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Skyscanner Marketing

Skyscanner plots 2020 marketing overhaul as it opens up to agencies

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

September 24, 2019 | 5 min read

Skyscanner has rebranded, revealing a slick new look in preparation of a marketing push next year that will mark its biggest investment to date as it shifts from direct advertising to “brand campaigns”.

Skyscanner

Skyscanner plots 2020 marketing overhaul as it opens up to agencies

The 18 year-old Edinburgh-based company has been largely built on word of mouth but most of its marketing spend has gone into paid-search and SEO according to its most recent marketing hire, Jo McClintock, who joined as brand director from Moonpig just a few months ago.

She tells The Drum that it’s “worked brilliantly and continues to work brilliantly”. Nonetheless, it wants to “reorganise” its marketing around annual campaigns that will drive "a singular message".

It’s hired some heavyweights into its team in preparation for this. A few months prior to McClintock joining it tapped Joanna Lord, previously from workout booking app ClassPass, as its global chief marketing officer. She’s brought an ethos that’s focused on “storytelling” on an “emotional level”, said McClintock, and wants to stop focusing on how Skyscanner can simply help people find the best price for flights and instead encourage them to plan full trips using its services.

“We've hired in some people like myself and others to make sure that we've got the right skills and experience in different functions such as brands and lifestyle marketing," she explained.

While McClintock declined to comment on how much it plans to increase its advertising spend to support this effort, she said it will go up by the “hundreds of percentages” over the next year.

Until now it’s worked with agencies on a project basis. Now it hunts for partners to develop its long-term advertising output.

“We haven't hugely invested in this before we are having conversations with third parties. Fundamentally, to get to deliver great campaigns, we're going to need the right mix of media, insight, creative and pull that together from a production perspective across the globe,” she said.

“We’re still discussing whether it's a project model over a more traditional retained model.”

And with in-housing the current hot-topic of the industry, it is also on McClintock's radar. “I've always believed in a hybrid model,” she said. “I’ve not seen a brand that's been able to do 100% wholly-owned and absolutely knocked the work out the park.

“It’s an exciting time for us because our new brand mission is giving us permission to start thinking about this.”

At the heart of future advertising will be its new brand mission, centered on the idea of “leading the global transformation towards modern and sustainable travel”.

This has been underpinned by the roll out of a rebrand today (24 September) across 52 markets which features a redesigned typeface and a new logo across its app stores, desktop, mobile web and owned social channels.

This is the most significant update to Skyscanner, which now has 100 million monthly active users and an app with 90m downloads. 60% of users now interact with the brand via a mobile device, it claims.

As part of this commitment, it has recently began showing lower emission flight options on search results. which have been clicked on over 10 million times today. It has also joined the Duke of Sussex’s sustainable travel initiative, Travalyst, global collaboration with TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Ctrip, and Visa aimed at encouraging sustainable travel.

“People are looking for employers on brands that make meaningful impacts to lead the charge and lead the way,” said McClintock.

“What we can do is commit to greater understanding and influence with partners to give consumers choices. We can lead the industry change. We don't expect consumers to have to understand that and know everything.”

It is developing its ideas for the next year's advertising campaign. It will talk up its sustainability credentials to fend off competition from the likes of Kayak and Expedia.

“We've got such a great and authentic story to tell,” added McClintock. “In a competitive market it’s important to get consumers to pick Skyscanner. Any campaigns are going to be orientated to effectively making this brand top of mind when it comes to travel choices and travel.

“The choices absolutely are about whether it's sustainable and it’s about simplicity.”

Skyscanner also hopes this will improve the returns its seeing from its advertising business. Though the largest portion of its revenue derives from affiliate sales (it takes a cut when someone books a hotel, flight or car through its comparison tool) an increasing portion comes from brands directly advertising on the site.

It currently has some 460 advertisers that spend on its site, ranging from airlines and hotels to tourism boards and non-travel brands.

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