Expedia marketer: predicting the future and 'advertising as a service'

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 24 February 2016
Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing for Expedia chats with Steve Hunt from Tube Mogul.

Test, test and test again were the strong words from Expedia's director of brand marketing, Vic Walia, who was speaking at today's programmatic Summit in Sydney, organised by IAB and Ashton Media.

In addressing more than 400 ad tech lovers at the Hilton hotel, after showcasing the brand's ad sizzle reel, Walia began by stressing the importance of the firm's willingness to test varying ads.

"Test and learn - it's about gathering insights, hypothesising, developing experiments and testing" he says.

"We have a great culture of trying out new things - test and learn, use those opportunities and if you fail, move on - and test again."

Walla discussed the brand's testing and learning strategy using programmatic. It also uses a "meta DSP" to aggregate data - meaning it uses a tech that pings more than one DSP to gather the info.

He says the brand is building varying cookie pools to target set groups and could "predict where any person will travel next."

"People who live in LA travel to Las Vegas, San Diego and Palm Springs more than any other destination," he begins. "If a display ad featuring Vegas, San Diego or Palm Springs is served to people in LA, there will be incremental bookings from LA."

It trialled varying methods across a 'test group' and a 'control group'. As an example, it showed two Expedia ads showing sunny Palm Springs, but only mentioned the destination name in one ad. Results showed there was a 2.4% uplift in bookings from those who saw the ad mentioning the actual destination, compared to those who just saw the ad without.

As another example, it found by showing two versions of an ad, one with the price and one without, it saw a bookings lift of 7.4% from the viewers that saw the ad with the price.

Walla added that dynamic creative content and experiencing with APIs was also high on the agenda - with Expedia seeing up to 10% lifts in bookings when changing imagery in an ad.

"Dynamic creative is where we and as and industry are moving," he says.

He added that beyond near real-time dynamic creative, micro-segmentation, tapping into global nuances,experimental design and programmatic ad format testing, the future was also about 'advertising as a service", whereby advertising can actually service you as opposed to simply just being an aesthetic or needed brand prompt. He gave an example of where a customer may have booked a trip, but if the price goes down, Expedia can notify you and then credit your account with the difference based on the new cheaper price.

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