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Case Study: Dynamic Hotel Retargeting

September 12, 2016

Dynamic travel ads with in-banner room rates boosts retargeting campaign performance.

The advertiser: a US hotel chain.

Campaign goal: drive incremental bookings from abandoned website visits and Booking Engine sessions.

Dynamic creative strategy: retarget bounced visitors with ads for the specific hotel property the visitor viewed, and include actual pricing for that property.

First iteration: personalized retargeting

Initially, Canned Banners produced personalized dynamic creative that would show each retargeting viewer the hotel property he or she viewed on the advertiser's website.

The personalized retargeting ads were used as lower-funnel display creative that would complement upper-funnel branding creative. Canned Banners kept the design for the lower-funnel dynamic retargeting creative in-line with the advertiser's overall brand identity and existing upper-funnel creative.

Canned Banners imported all hotel information from an XML feed of all the advertiser's properties. The XML feed included attributes like city, landing page URL, and photos. Once imported into the Canned Banners platform, each hotel could be individually trackable and its content available to be used in dynamic ad creative.

In-banner photo gallery
 

Hotel room with a view

The advertiser had high-quality, professional photography of every hotel property, so each ad featured a small photo gallery featuring the exterior of the hotel, the room interiors, and the pool. The individual hotel properties had invested heavily in remodeling and upgrading their rooms and facilities, so communicating the high quality of the accommodations was very important to the advertiser.

Tracking hotel views in multiple environments

In order to capture as much audience intent as possible, Canned Banners set up its Dynamic Ads pixel to track hotel property views and searches both on the advertiser's marketing website and in its Booking Engine website. For the marketing website, Canned Banners used the URL directory path to identify the hotel, and for the Booking Engine, the Hotel ID (an eight-character alphanumeric value) served as a "needle" and was parsed out of the URL using the Canned Banners pixel "haystack" param.

Second iteration: current pricing and availability and demographic imagery

Soon after the first iteration of dynamic ads launched, Canned Banners began working with the advertiser's Booking Engine platform vendor to collect daily pricing and availability for each hotel property. This information was to be used in the ads to feature the most competitive nightly rate for retargeting viewers.

Connecting to the Booking Engine API
 

Diagram illustrating how the Canned Banners ad platform queries the Booking Engine API to find room pricing

Canned Banners connected to the advertiser's Booking Engine XML API and created queries that collected the lowest available nightly rate for each hotel property. To keep up with ongoing availability changes, these queries were performed twice daily (every 12 hours).

The Canned Banners platform needed to be whitelisted by the Booking Engine API, therefore the server performing the queries needed to be at a static IP address.

The process of researching the Booking Engine API documentation, developing custom scripts, and testing the code was time-intensive. But based on performance gains (read more below), the project was more than worth the effort.

Dynamic hotel creative

The second iteration of ad creative with photo gallery and room rate for personalized location.

Demographic imagery

Canned Banners collaborated with the advertiser’s media agency to understand the kinds of broad demographic buckets that could be targeted within the advertiser’s retargeting pool. Based on available impression volumes, the following demographic groups were identified:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Family
  • Senior
  • Business

For each group, the advertiser supplied high-quality photo assets, and the demographic-themed images were set as static backgrounds, meant to set an emotional tone for the creative.

Ad tag params support creative execution
 

Sample ad tag customized using the Canned Banners 'lpApp' and 'ci' params

Canned Banners used its Custom Inputs (ci_*) dynamic ad tag param to feed the ad's demographic background image into the creative via the ad tag. This ensured that a single creative could support new and updated imagery without having to duplicate the entire creative. This also ensured that each demographic theme could have its own UTM params set using the Landing Page Append (lpApp) dynamic ad tag param.

Strong performance gains

The addition of pricing helped personalized retargeting performance tremendously. CTR more than doubled, and conversion performance reached new highs.

  • CTR up 137% versus ads without pricing
  • Click-to-conversion up 90% versus ads without pricing

Obviously room pricing and availability is useful to travelers in making their final booking decision.

If Canned Banners can help you develop custom dynamic travel ads, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Contact us to learn more about the Canned Banners Dynamic Ads platform.

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