Lastminute.com is helping advertisers do market research programmatically

Lastminute.com expands Travel People

Lastminute.com has launched a new tool called Travel Insights that promises to help brands target people with market research surveys within display ad formats that will be served on both its own site and those of third-parties.

It’s part of the brand’s wider investment into its in-house media business, which opened up to the market last summer under the steerage of Alessandra Di Lorenzo, chief commercial officer of media and partnerships, as a way to protect its revenues against the threat of the digital giants, namely Google but increasingly Facebook.

Dubbed The Travel People, it’s effectively an ad tech offering that services both the sell-side businesses of the Lastminute.com group as well as the buy-side for advertisers (its clients).

Revenues for that division are up 30% year-on-year, with some 1500 campaigns from over 300 different advertisers now under its belt.

“It’s going really well,” Di Lorenzo told The Drum. “What we’re doing now is building out different things that play on our data strength because at the end of the day, as a publisher, our biggest asset is data. So, we’re taking that and rolling out the Travel Insights product.”

The Insights tool was born from the group’s acquisition of social travel network WAYN, which used similar technology to gather over 25 million user-generated ideas to enhance its own content offering.

In this iteration, it will use the Lasminute.com group’s rich first-party data on its 43 million monthly users as well as partnerships with key third-party data providers to provide brands with what it claimed is “unique and valuable insights about their customers.”

Where Facebook and Google can deliver data against relatively broad categories, Di Lorenzo said that her big pitch to potential clients is “boutique travel data” that can’t be found on the mass market (especially on the hard to reach young, affluent audience).

A “gamified survey” in the form of an ad, hosted in standard IAB formats, will deliver feedback from a cross section of this audience. Participation is encouraged through incentives like automatic entry into a 'Win a Holiday' prize draw or discounts on a trip.

“If you think about a classic market research study what [a marketer] would do is go out, find people to sign up and [respondents] would give you answers to questions. But we’re using cookie technology [to find the right people] and creating display advertising units with engaging creative and questions which we run on our site or third-party sites. And we do the profiling based on programmatic technology. Which means we have infinite scale,” she explained.

“Asking questions is the most humble and mature way to run a business and every business should be humble enough to ask the right questions. If a marketer thinks they know everything about their customers… that’s a bit worrying.”

Depending on the client, Lasminute.com anticipates that it will receive between 800 and 2000 responses that are “statistically relevant” over an average two-week campaign.

The “cool factor,” Di Lorenzo said, is the competitive pricing which will be priced based on advertising metrics such as number of responses.

“I work closely with the chief marketing officer on planning and buying. So, we buy media for our own brand as well as on behalf of clients. That comes back to the pricing, which is based on response, but the underlying cost for us is the CPM.”

In the first months of launch it is aiming to sign up tourism bodies, which Di Lorenzo said are lagging when it comes to how they can use digital for consumer insight.

Travel Portland – the marketing organisation for the city of Portland, Oregon, which has recently received a bump in its marketing budget – is one of the first organisations to pilot the Insights tool.

It’s using a survey to provide greater insight into the demographic of potential UK travellers to Portland and to inform its future strategy to increase the number of Brits who visited the city in 2016.

“But this product could be interesting to any brand that’s trying to sell products or services to travellers," she continued.

"It’s just a different way of actioning and using the data we have at hand. It’s helping brands get information rather than sitting in an office and assuming things."

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