Hawaiian Airlines took on the challenge to build brand awareness and change the consumer perception that turned Hawaii into an expensive, unreachable tropical island getaway, as the economy took a dive.
Working with the digital agency Razorfish to develop and serve up display ads, the airline tapped into the Google Content Network, which consists of millions of Web sites and online services that use Google's AdSense program to serve up ads.
The display ads highlighted Hawaii's attributes as a tropical vacation destination by running the campaign "What Island Am I?" The application asked people five simple questions about their interests and lifestyle, then recommended the appropriate island for them to visit. The display ads were tapped to fuel search campaigns and reinforce campaign messages.
"Image ads that display banners, on top of the Google Content Network, exceeded some of the marks we put in place," says Reid Ichiki, senior manager Internet marketing at Hawaiian Airlines, Honolulu, Hawaii. "Danny at Razorfish suggested we use display ads and incorporate rich media, giving people something to interact with."
Hawaiian Airlines has begun to increase its focus on online ads. In fact, more than 15% of the company's total online advertising budget -- millions of dollars -- now goes toward the Google Content Network. The campaign increased advertising revenue by 3% year-over-year during a challenging time for the airline industry. Although Razorfish isn't involved in the airline's social media campaigns, ads also run on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.
Travel search queries on Google are up, but people search more before buying. Consumers once conducted five searches before booking a flight, but that number has jumped to eight prior to finalizing vacation plans, says Rob Torres, Google's industry director of travel. Torres says Google optimizes and manages the network, similar to AdWords accounts, so if account managers see that something isn't working, they drop one site and add another.
The next step, tentatively scheduled to take off in October, is to delve into the third-party ad-serving through the Google Content Network using a cost-per-thousand model. "Then we can compare the results from management to display at a CPM buy, versus a more controlled CPC buy through search," says Danny Huynh, associate search director at Razorfish. "It will tell us how to get the most from the campaign, whether through a CPM, which gives us greater reach, or CPC model, which has a more limited reach through the Google Content Network."
In the past few months, Google has rolled out several Google Content Network features aimed at helping advertisers and agencies create display campaigns. The service includes a product called Display Ad Builder, which helps agencies and advertisers create display campaigns with templates.
The display ads can include Twitter functions, rich media and video units. Google Ad Planner, a free research and media planning tool identifies Web sites, as well as expandable ad units, and pre- and post-roll videos for gaming and video sites. Behavioral targeting has also become available within the past year.