Last week, Priceline CEO Darren Huston called out Facebook and Twitter as ad media, describing them as useless for him as a travel advertiser. “We haven’t found anything there,” were his exact words.
Most of his online ad budget goes to Google.
That criticism stings because Priceline’s online ad budget is a massive $US1.8 billion annually, according to Bloomberg.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees that Facebook and Twitter are useless to advertisers. After all, Facebook garnered nearly $US7.8 billion in ad sales last year, and Twitter booked $US665 million.
Jesse Pujji is the CEO of Ampush, a media buyer who places ads on both Facebook and Twitter. His clients include Keebler and Livingsocial. He thinks Huston has got it all wrong, and he shared with us this open letter to the Priceline CEO (below). Obviously, as a vendor the Ampush letter is self-serving — so take it with a pinch of salt.
But his main point is that plenty of travel brands get results advertising on Facebook and Twitter, so if Priceline isn’t seeing that then it’s likely Priceline’s fault, not social media’s. Here is the letter:
My name is Jesse Pujji and I’m the CEO of Ampush, an advertising technology company that specialises in planning and executing large Facebook and Twitter campaigns. Your comment about Facebook and Twitter advertising essentially “not working” for Priceline caught our eye. We see no reason why Priceline, or any other travel company, can’t drive return on ad spend on Facebook and Twitter if the right strategy and execution are in place.
Two years ago, when GM made a similar proclamation that “Facebook doesn’t work” the entire social world was put on its head and left second guessing the thousands of dollars in ad budget they’d poured into the platform. In 2014, this is no longer the case. Twitter, and especially Facebook, have proven their worth countless times over for brands and direct response advertisers with specific measurable advertising goals in mind – travel industry included!
Here are just a few Facebook & Twitter success stories in travel:
- Last-minute hotel booking app Hotel Tonight sees 10x higher click-to-install rate from Facebook mobile app install ads compared to standard mobile banner ads and 80% higher return on ad spend from Facebook Offers than average mobile advertising spend
- MGM resorts consistently sees over 300% return on ad spend by using CRM data and Facebook to create targeted audiences most likely to book.
What these brands know that Priceline doesn’t is that Facebook, Twitter and other mobile-first social platforms are the solution to reaching traveller intenders on mobile. By 2015, over one-quarter of all online travel sales will take place on mobile, a $US40 billion market. Seeing that 80% of all time on mobile is spent in apps and nearly 30% is spent on social platforms, advertising on Facebook and Twitter is extremely effective for reaching mobile consumers.
But placement is only one piece of the pie. Driving return on ad spend means acquiring high quality, loyal customers, at scale, and at the most efficient price. Facebook has all the tools necessary to achieve all three in tandem – pair this with the right strategy and great execution and you’re golden. There are four key strategies we see consistently drive out sized results for travel companies on mobile using Facebook & Twitter:
1. Drive Mobile App Installs at Volume.
Mobile users prefer to book travel in an app versus the mobile browser. Facebook and Twitter’s mobile app install ads deliver installs at a high velocity, resulting in a higher app store ranking and additional organic exposure.
2. Target & Engage Travel Intenders.
Don’t bother with branding – capture bottom of the funnel travel intenders using third-party data from Datalogix, Axciom, and Epsilon and create audiences of individuals that are highly similar to your current customers using data from your CRM.
3. Re-engage Customers Across Platforms.
Encourage in-app purchases post install by retargeting current users with mobile app ads that link to pages optimised for conversion. For non-app users, leverage a remarketing pixel to identify past website visitors and retarget them with ads on their mobile devices.
4. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Multi-touch attribution pulls back the curtain on the customer’s path to conversion. Assigning credit to all the channels that influence the final action provides the most accurate insight into an ad’s performance.
We’ve laid out the recipe for driving success on Facebook and Twitter for you – we believe you can make it work! We’ll even bet on it – if Ampush can’t achieve return on ad spend for Priceline, we’ll eat the cost of the campaign (but we’re positive that won’t happen).
Looking forward to continuing this conversation and changing your mind about the effectiveness of Facebook and Twitter.
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