Marketers have been watching Internet giants like Facebook for years to see where they go in targeting travel. The latest is here: the social network is aiming to become better “friends” with airlines through an expansion of Flight Ads, a solution that enables carriers to reach more potential travelers based on visits to other flight-related pages, websites, and apps.
Up until now, airlines could use Facebook ads to retarget customers who had visited their websites or apps searching for a particular flight. Now, they can reach more people
who have expressed an interest in travel.
Christine Warner, who leads Facebook’s travel team in the U.S., said the company knows how important it is for travel advertisers to reach the right people with the right message, personalized depending on where a traveler is in her decision journey. With the expansion of Flight Ads, she said, advertisers can now reach more people who have expressed plans to travel — from new customers still deciding on a final destination to those who know where they’d like to go and are zeroing in a specific flight.
Warner said the initiative emerges from the rise of mobile, which has moved to become more personalized, “raising the game” of what people expect in their trip planning. She said half of smartphone users are now comfortable with planning and booking trips on mobile devices; half of all travel sales by 2020 will be on mobile.
Flights Ads are now less about targeting, she said, and more about optimizing ad experiences for consumers with different levels of intent. A traveler does not need to have visited a company’s website or app, but only to have expressed interest in a destination or supplier on any device. With that data, said Warner, Facebook can reach more people with more tailored ads distributed across its own pages, Instagram and the Audience Network (which feeds ads to other apps and mobile websites.)
For instance, let’s say someone is looking at holiday trips to Mexico by browsing several
airline sites and flight-pricing apps. An airline can now use Flight Ads to reach those people with personalized ads promoting relevant flight routes. Or in a different instance, travelers who visited
a travel-related Facebook Page but had not yet chosen a trip destination may see an ad to visit an airline brand's site.
The new tool has already seen successes in
the marketplace, according to Facebook. In a test with advertisers, Air France used Flight Ads to acquire new U.S. customers, driving targeted search volume to its site, while lowering cost per search
by 66%. And Hopper, an airfare forecasting app, saw a 20% drop in its cost-per-app install using this new prospecting option.
Now in addition to incredibly broad reach, Facebook is promising extremely targeted marketing. Check it out if you think you would like to be closer friends with Facebook.