Named in 2014 Best North American Leisure Airline, Air Transat knows its business. It also knows that to maintain this position, it needs to effectively connect with today's online travel customer. To ensure that its marketing is having the right impact, it recently undertook a unique study to understand how traditional media performs against digital media. Of special interest was how Google placements compared to print, TV and other digital media in influencing brand perception and consumer behavior. Learn more in this Canadian case study.


  • Examine if the campaign improved awareness, opinion and perceptions, (including "Sun and European destinations" perceptions) of Air Transat
  • Understand the impact of the Google media buy compared to all other media


  • Tested target audience who has taken an all-inclusive vacation in the past three years and plans to take one soon


  • Google placements outperformed print, TV and other digital ads
  • The company positively affected brand response in the areas of favourability, intent to travel, recommendation and more
August 2014

Air Transat was named the Best North American Leisure Airline at the 2014 World Airline Awards, which means it has earned respect within the airline industry. But how aware are potential customers of all Air Transat has to offer? The company wanted to execute an advertising approach using Google, and it was important to measure how a digital campaign fared against more traditional methods. In particular, the valuable "Sunny and European destinations" target was studied—€”how would consumers' perception of Air Transat be improved?

Of special interest was the unique research methodology as it included a re-contact strategy for digital exposure. This re-contact recruitment strategy was employed with control respondents pre-recruited and later re-interviewed after natural campaign exposure, using the same blinded survey, ensuring a control vs. exposed comparison within a sample, with perfect propensity for exposure to digital media (Google and others).

As part of an overall research plan, Google placements were tested against print, TV and other digital ads. The creative was simple and attractive, which made for ideal testing in different mediums. Could this campaign perform and change customer perception with just a few short lines and better targeting?

Most of our travel customers are online. It is where they research, it is where they are influenced and it's where we need to be too.

The results showed that while the offline ads were memorable for the test audience, the TV ads were only helpful when it came to reinforcing sun destination perceptions. In contrast, Google placements positively affected most brand metrics: brand favorability, travel intent, intent to recommend Air Transat and several brand perceptions (for example, "takes care of everything").

Effectiveness was higher when the offline and Google ads worked together synergistically. Large scale offline media helped awareness, while Google proved to be particularly standout in enhancing key metrics, such as favorability and intent.

Air Transat determined that Google placements were the star performers, clearly shifting metrics and attributes after multiple exposures, and that this warranted continued inclusion of Google placement in similar efforts. There was an increase in several key brand metrics including brand favorability, travel intent and intent to recommend Air Transat. These were likely influenced by improved perceptions such as "more leg room," "good in-flight entertainment" and "takes care of everything," pointing to the positive impact of Google placements on consumer purchase intent.