How San Francisco Travel earned 1600% more bookings with Sojern and DoubleClick

San Francisco is packed with amazing food, rich culture, and a whole lot of fog, putting the City by the Bay on the top of many a traveler’s list. But how do you turn that traveler’s dream into an actual visit?

San Francisco is packed with amazing food, rich culture, and a whole lot of fog, putting the City by the Bay on the top of many a traveler’s list. But how do you turn that traveler’s dream into an actual visit?

In an effort to draw even more people to the Bay Area, San Francisco Travel turned to Sojern and DoubleClick to test out an industry-first, programmatic native marketing campaign, that produced unprecedented results .

San Francisco Travel drives the conversation with content

One of the biggest challenges facing San Francisco tourism is the perceived sticker shock:

“Some people have a bit of a money hump about San Francisco; they’re eager to visit, but they worry it might be expensive,” says Karen Lau, Manager of Digital Marketing for San Francisco Travel.

Rather than focus solely on cost, Karen and her team wanted the city’s numerous offerings and activities to drive the conversation for travelers. They created engaging articles highlighting a multiplicity of activities and events around the city. But now, they just needed to drive travelers to them.

Sojern finds the audience and DoubleClick delivers the message

In the summer of 2016, Sojern suggested a new solution: reach in-market audiences with Sojern’s advanced technology, then reach them with programmatic native ads in DoubleClick.

Native ads, unlike traditional banner ads, consist of high-quality content that integrates with the website they’re displayed on by looking and feeling like they are part of the page. Native ads, then, aren’t as disruptive to the user experience. When served programmatically, as we did here, native ads can be done at scale: bidding for the user and automatically assembling and distributing the ads over a diverse number of websites.

A benefit of programmatic native ads is their scale. Marketers can now get custom content that seamlessly integrates with a wide variety of websites, instead of having to create numerous ads for each platform and user experience. What’s more, with Sojern’s deep data, these native ads are served to people who show a desire to engage with them in the first place.

Christina Jacobson, regional sales director for tourism at Sojern, thought the partnership was a perfect fit, “San Francisco Travel was one of the first partners I approached for this project because they’re already running a lot of native advertising and being able to offer them a unique solution to test running native programmatically seemed like a no brainer. Plus, they’re such a creative and innovative client, we knew working with them on this new type of campaign would be successful.”

Sojern specializes in finding people interested in traveling to a specific destination, understanding when they’re shopping for that destination, and then placing highly-targeted ads in front of these in-market travelers to influence their booking behavior.

For example, using Sojern’s historical data on search and booking trends, we found that users who were searching for travel around the Labor Day or Columbus Day weekends had a strong propensity to book. These insights allow Sojern to deliver ads at the right time to the right audience to produce the biggest impact.

DoubleClick’s programmatic native solution and impressive inventory allowed San Francisco Travel to deliver the right message and to test and iterate on their efforts. “We were able to see what resonates best with potential visitors and serve up content that’s meaningful to them as they make their travel decisions,” says Lau. “That’s helping us turn ‘maybe’ into ‘yes.’”

Partnering for real results

By partnering with Sojern and DoubleClick, San Francisco Travel drove 1600% more bookings than their previous direct response  campaign, all while decreasing cost per acquisition by 92%. And these travelers are spending some serious time in San Francisco: staying for three or more days to perhaps visit Alcatraz, shop, or go to any number of the amazing Michelin-star restaurants in the Bay Area.

Cutting-edge travel marketers, like San Francisco Travel, are continuously looking out of the box to create smarter campaigns and programmatic native helps fuel such efforts. Creating engaging and educative content and serving it in a way that is friction-free for the user, as we see with native advertising, is becoming of ever-increasing importance. With programmatic, native ads can pack a real punch since we find users already interested in engaging.

Our VP of Marketing, Jackie Lamping said: “Thanks to our work with the San Francisco Travel team and Google, programmatic native ads in DoubleClick are now a proven method for driving direct bookings. We know that native advertising is already a $16 billion business and is expected to more than double in the next three years, so we’re excited to be able to offer this opportunity to all of our clients now.”

Want to learn more about how you can partner with Sojern? Connect with us today.

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