Travelodge embarks on YouTube ads strategy

23 Sep 2010

Budget hotel group Travelodge is using YouTube as a platform to drive brand recognition and in turn boost room sales.

The hotel chain forged a partnership with online agency DublinScope to increase brand promotion and to trial it through a number of mediums, including online display advertising, the most successful of which turned out to be via YouTube.

Kamal Taibi, e-consultant with DublinScope, explains: “Travelodge is a household name in the UK but it has a lot of customers who travel to the UK from Ireland. Unaware of its existence, these customers would book with Travelodge UK rather than with Travelodge Ireland.

“So Travelodge approached us to help them to increase awareness of the hotel chain in Ireland, but as well as the domestic market; it also wished to promote its room sales internationally to consumers in France, the US and the UK.”

Travelodge did not originally regard YouTube as a major channel for advertising, however, the sales figures and correlation to the YouTube campaign quickly changed this perception.

What was initially a novel marketing approach has now become a cornerstone of Travelodge’s marketing strategy.

“We now regard YouTube as a ‘cost saving channel,’ ” said Seamus McGowan, managing director, Travelodge Ireland.

“It’s amazing the money that we have saved in comparison to other channels, for example, during an autumn sale campaign on CPM (cost per thousand impressions) alone, we achieved 200,000 impressions at an overall cost of €200.  For cost effectiveness and return on investment our display ad campaign on YouTube has been a revelation.”

Impact of YouTube campaign

The YouTube campaign also had a positive impact on organic searches for the hotel chain. “From the time we started the campaign on YouTube we were able to see a clear increase in Travelodge searches,” explains Kamal.

“With Google Analytics we could see very clearly that the traffic to the Travelodge Ireland website and subsequent sales were driven by brand recognition from the YouTube campaign.”

Travelodge started advertising on YouTube because of the huge audience available to advertisers. After several weeks of performance, Travelodge was able to measure the success of its advertising campaign and make adjustments to the types of ads used, to achieve a greater return on investment.

Measuring this success was possible using integrated Google products, including YouTube, AdWords and Analytics.

In addition, Travelodge and DublinScope were able to see, early in the campaign, the vital role played by new technologies available in Google AdWords, like view-through conversion reporting.

This feature measures the number of conversions that occur within 30 days after a user saw, but did not click, a display ad on one of the sites on the Google Display Network. Knowing this allowed Travelodge to determine the best ways and places to advertise, how best to optimise their display ad campaign and how to use their advertising spend most effectively.

“View-through conversions are really important,” said McGowan, Travelodge. “This tool has changed the way we manage our display campaigns as we think that it’s necessary to track when somebody has been exposed to our ad and doesn’t convert. The reason for this is that a lot of people who see the ad don’t click, but the image stays with them.

“For example, we held a St Patrick’s day campaign which showed that there were over a thousand view-through conversions, which meant that users who saw the ad subsequently converted to a sale through another medium having seen our display ad. It was one of the criteria that helped us to determine the success of the campaign,” McGowan added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years