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The Goals

  • Maximize tour bookings during the summer tourist season
  • Increase brand’s visibility online to connect with travelers earlier as they start researching their tour options
  • Better understand the customer journey to account for all search activity’s contribution toward final sales

The Approach

  • Set up a custom data-driven attribution (DDA) model with Merkle | Periscopix
  • Implemented target ROAS (tROAS) automated bidding strategy to optimize generic search campaigns

The Results

  • +33% revenue increase YoY from DDA bidding campaigns
  • +31% increase in transactions YoY from DDA bidding campaigns
  • +25% ROI increase YoY from DDA bidding campaigns


Published October 2017

Walks of Italy’s magic lies right in the name: The Rome-based company specializes in immersive walking tours around some of Italy’s most famed destinations, including Rome, Florence, Venice, and Sicily, and recently expanded to offer tours in New York, Turkey, and Paris.

Like most online tourism companies, Walks of Italy’s busiest season is summer. With more than 70 available tours and services led by an international team of guides, Walks of Italy was focused on maximizing its number of tour bookings going into the crucial summer season.

Adapting to a long and winding customer journey

Knowing that many of its customers shop around online before booking their tour tickets, Walks of Italy primarily used search ads to engage with potential travelers as they began researching their options. However, 34% of the brand’s conversion paths involve two or more touchpoints, and optimizing across the entire search path has historically posed a challenge.

The reality is that a lot of travelers start their research with more general search queries, such as “rome tour” or “florence tour guides,” and then narrow their options with branded searches like “walks of italy rome tour” before booking a tour. In the past, last-click brand searches like these accounted for 48% of the brand’s tour ticket sales. But that approach to attribution failed to account for all of the searches, impressions, and ad clicks that led to a final conversion.

To make the most of its search ad spend, the brand needed to make sure it accounted for impact across the click path to optimize its generic campaigns.

Setting up a custom DDA model in DoubleClick Search

Walks of Italy’s performance marketing agency, Merkle | Periscopix, saw an opportunity to move the brand away from last-click attribution and take a fresh, data-driven approach. The agency set up a DDA model in DoubleClick Search (DS) to give Walks of Italy a clearer view of its entire customer journey—from the first generic search to the final ad click—and assign credit to each online checkpoint.

DDA uses machine learning to analyze online users’ interactions before they booked a Walks of Italy tour, and just as importantly, when they didn’t book at all. That allowed the brand to measure the impact each online touchpoint had on driving overall tour ticket sales.

The introduction of DDA to the account has added so much value in terms of seeing which campaigns and ad groups were previously being undervalued. We’re now a lot more confident in allocating budget to areas where we previously didn’t see too much value.

Roisin O’Sullivan, Marketing Director, Walks of Italy

After analyzing its DDA data, Walks of Italy saw that its generic search campaigns were generally being undervalued in favor of last-click brand searches.

With a fresh set of insights in hand, Merkle | Periscopix applied the model to a tROAS automated bidding strategy to optimize the brand’s bids toward high-volume, generic keywords. This allowed Walks of Italy to increase its online visibility and engage potential travelers in their early online research moments.

DDA bidding campaigns spark a sizzling summer season

Compared to 2016’s summer season, Walks of Italy’s DDA bidding campaigns led to a 33% YoY revenue increase as opposed to just 6% for its other non-brand campaigns. The DDA campaigns also boosted ROI by 25% YoY, and ultimately led to a 69% increase in tour ticket sales.

Success from using DDA and automated bidding strategies inspired the brand and Merkle | Periscopix to continue exploring how they can adopt a similar approach to drive even better results in the future.


Further reading:

Office Depot uncovers the impact of online ads on in-store transactions

    Office Depot has invested heavily in their digital advertising campaigns, but they wanted to find out how much these can influence sales outside of the web experience — namely, in stores and over the phone. With the help of their partners at the marketing agency Merkle, Office Depot set out to solve this challenge by comparing the different offline customer experiences to see how they are influenced by digital ads. By understanding this connection better, they hoped to increase Office Depot’s total sales volume and customer base. 

    Connecting the dots

    Without the critical link between in-store and online data, Office Depot couldn’t get a clear picture of their customers’ journeys. While they suspected that many in-store and phone purchases began with online research, they needed to connect the dots to prove this theory. 

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