Strategies & Tactics to Expand Your Upper Funnel in Cookieless World

January 7, 2022

In our last blog, Preparing Your Data for the Cookieless World, we shared tips on what data you should collect, how you can collect it, and how to get it into a database. In this blog, we’ll look at how to activate data in a cookieless world. The key is activating with a full-funnel, multichannel approach. 

Targeting travelers online can be complicated. Travelers have over 500 touch points during their research for a single trip, and can do so across both desktop and mobile environments. As a travel marketer, you need to engage with them throughout that journey from “dream to destination”. This is very important now and it will be even more important in the cookieless future.

Go Multichannel

We hear from our customers that they’re challenged with getting in front of travelers before they complete the booking. This makes channels like Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and metasearch, where travelers are actively telling you that they’re planning for a trip, even more critical. However, focusing only on these channels, which are highly competitive, can get costly. 

This is why a multichannel strategy, expanding channels and tactics you’re using in order to engage travelers who are already in the plan to book phase, is key. This is where channels like Facebook, Instagram, and other social channels become highly valuable. On average, Sojern customers that adopted three channels: display, Facebook, and SEM, saw their number of conversions double. 

Oftentimes in the travel industry, full-funnel marketing is focused on the bottom of the funnel. But in the cookieless world, we recommend expanding your full-funnel marketing to reach travelers in the dreaming stage, before they have selected a destination. 

Again, a focus here would be social channels like Facebook and Instagram. SEM is important here as well as a lot of travelers will start their “dreaming” with a search. Your SEM strategy should include not only branded key terms (like the name of your hotel), but unbranded keywords (like “hotels in Dubai”) to drive conversions. 

In the cookieless world, some channels will actually be even more powerful as you are collecting hashed emails, and this applies to channels like Connected TV. As we’ve noted, hashed emails are the new digital passport. In order to watch anything on Hulu, Amazon Prime, or other on-demand channels, you use your email to sign up and login. Sojern can connect those hashed emails with viewers on Connected TV.

Contextual Targeting & Cohort Advertising 

Contextual targeting will be important to expand your awareness marketing strategy, or advertising to people that are looking at content that aligns with the context of what you’re offering. It matches ads to relevant sites on the web using your keywords or topics, among other factors. For example, for a user looking at beaches in Hawaii, there’s a pretty good likelihood that they’re looking to travel to Hawaii. As a hotel marketer in Hawaii, this would be a key person to target using the contextual model, and this strategy can be very effective. 

Finally, cohort advertising solutions will be a piece of the cookieless world. Cohort-based advertising solutions target anonymized groups of people who share common interests and online behavior, similar to look-a-like models. Understanding a block of users that are aligned with your interests or aligned with what you’re trying to target against, for example “people who have booked hotels in Paris”. You’re targeting those users, but you’re targeting them as a group. 

You won’t get the feedback around performance at an individual level, but you receive feedback around the performance of that cohort. For example, you’ll see based on the specific group you targeted whether they came to the site or engaged with another piece of content. However, this is more valuable as an upper-funnel tactic, because as you get into the bottom of the funnel, you’ll likely want to get that understanding at an individual level, if you targeted someone, did they convert? 

Work With Trusted Partners

The cookieless world will be complex, and the key is to work with trusted partners who can help you collect and organize data effectively, turn that data into audiences, and then activate those audiences across multiple channels, driving real-time performance and reporting to make your campaigns successful. And most importantly, those partners stay up to date on changes and ensure your advertising has a privacy-first approach. 

2022 is here and it’s time to get started transitioning to the cookieless world. Speak with an expert at Sojern to get started. 


About Christy Jobman

Christy is Sojern's Marketing Manager, US, Canada, & LATAM. She loves all things communications and she's so happy to be using the Communications/Journalism degree she earned at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. When she's not building relationships and cross collaborating to build out collateral for the sales teams and account managers at Sojern, she's coaching at her gym, dabbling in the non-profits world, exploring, and cooking new dishes.

LinkedIn | Posts by: