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The Goals

  • Flight Centre: Increase year-over-year travel inquiries by 20% and travel bookings by 10%
  • Trade Me: Grow revenue by using proprietary audience data

The Approach

  • Flight Centre: Delivered customized banners in real-time to the most relevant audience
  • Trade Me: Used first-party data to create precise audience segments, and the DoubleClick stack to consolidate available ad inventory and make audience segments accessible programmatically

The Results

  • 137% increase in new revenue stream on Trade Me
  • 68% year-over-year increase in travel inquiries on the Flight Centre website
  • 28% year-over-year increase in bookings on the Flight Centre website


Published September 2017

Just under two weeks before Christmas, Flight Centre, the biggest travel retailer in New Zealand, challenged their digital advertising agency, FCB New Zealand, with a seemingly impossible task: increase year-over-year travel inquiries on the Flight Centre site by 20% and bookings by 10% — all before the Christmas holiday.

Finding the ideal target customer in “settle shoppers”

Though Google data shows that the week leading up to Christmas has the year’s lowest search volume for flight and travel-related terms, FBC accepted the challenge. The first step of FBC’s approach was to find the right target audience. After reading a study of New Zealand’s Christmas behavior, FCB learned that the week before Christmas, over 25% of people still hadn’t started buying presents.

FCB called this segment “settle shoppers” to characterize those (mainly men) who, with the mounting time pressure of the Christmas holiday, make hasty purchases.

Finding the right online destinations to advertise

With the “settle shoppers” target audience identified, the question was: how do you find and then engage with them? The answer came from Trade Me, New Zealand’s leading online marketplace and classified advertising platform. With Trade Me’s vast reach across categories—from books to electronics, clothing, real estate, jobs and more — Trade Me has an extensive collection of first-party search data.

Trade Me had also recently partnered with DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) to update their ad-serving technology. They used DFP to consolidate their site’s ad inventory and DoubleClick Data Platform (DDP) to convert their first-party data into audience segments they could sell to programmatically providing advertisers with better targeting — and users with more relevant ads.

DFP’s advertising stack allows us to connect audience data, onsite inventory and programmatic buying platforms seamlessly with far less fuss and effort than solutions from multiple vendors.

Josh Borthwick, Head of Advertising, Trade Me

Reaching target customers with dynamically-generated banner ads

FCB leveraged Trade Me’s new data setup to target “settle shoppers.” They identified items that customers were seeking, and as they continued on their digital journey, Flight Centre, delivered customized banners in real-time using DoubleClick, featuring the products they were looking for and showing them a holiday destination as an alternative gift.

DoubleClick Studio allowed them to develop ads where the image and the message were dynamically created according to the data feeds.

For example, someone searching for necklaces on Trade Me the week before Christmas would see a display ad with this messaging: “Sure, you could give her something like this,” with an image of the necklace they had previously searched for on Trade Me. Then the viewer would see a frame saying: “Or, you could take her some place like this”, showing Bali — the destination chosen to be advertised based on the demographics of the person and Flight Centre’s available product inventory.

Next, a sense of urgency was created with text such as “24 tickets left to buy” along with the last day of the sale: December 24. Finally, customers were shown prices with the option to buy. This combination of Trade Me’s search data with demographics and Flight Centre inventory allowed for literally thousands of different ads, which were tailored to various types of settle shoppers.

Results that exceeded expectations

The campaign ran until Christmas Day, driving a 68% year-over-year increase in inquiries and a 28% year-over-year increase in bookings — well over the initial goals set by Flight Centre. The deals, destinations and budget remained unchanged from the prior year, demonstrating that the data-driven nature of the campaign had been a key factor in the results. Digital tracking shows that FCB’s campaign for Flight Centre directly drove an ROI of 2.4:1, taking into consideration inquiries, bookings and growth to the retargeting pool.

The team at Flight Centre was thrilled with the results and the powerful impact of data-driven advertising, saying:

It’s this type of innovative thinking, advanced targeting and rapid execution that highlights the value of our agency partnership. After the success of this campaign there has been global interest in taking this approach and applying it to other markets.

Jodie Burnard, General Manager Marketing, Flight Centre

Monetizing their audiences offsite allowed Trade Me to generate a new revenue stream, which grew 137%. The results show in revenue and their ability to improve the user experience by surprising and delighting users beyond what they were searching for in the first place.


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