Norwegian Airlines harness the power of automation to increase revenue and reduce costs

April 2019

Faced with the challenge of driving efficient growth in an already competitive environment, Norwegian Airlines leveraged Search Ads 360’s powerful inventory management and automation features.

Norwegian Airlines is the largest airline in Scandinavia, serving over 150 destinations worldwide. Operating in a challenging and highly competitive market, the brand has a growing need for both technical and creative talent. According to Nicola Riva, International eCommerce Manager at Norwegian Airlines, the importance of developing and retaining digital skills was a key driver behind the brand’s decision to bring their paid search marketing in-house, and to focus on a strategy that embraces the power of machine learning and automation.

Aligning search strategy with business strategy

“We are creating a new market with low-cost long-haul flights, alongside our domestic and short-haul range” says Mario Garcia, Digital Advisor at Norwegian Airlines, “so it’s vital that our paid search strategy is aligned with our business priorities: increasing average order value, protecting our position in mature markets and exploring how to achieve incremental sales.”

With different seasonalities, destinations and varying levels of brand awareness in different national markets, Norwegian Airlines required a paid search approach that was cost-effective but also broad enough to reach a huge potential audience. “We have a limited budget and large search volume, so it makes sense to be more visible for searchers who are more likely to buy our most profitable products, while reducing visibility for loyal customers or where an organic sales baseline is already established,” Mario explains. “But to pursue this kind of strategy at scale, we needed the machine-fuelled intelligence of an automated optimisation system.”

Search Ads 360 provides simple, powerful automation

Norwegian Airline’s research into automated optimisation eventually led them to Search Ads 360. They began by using the upgraded inventory management feature, generating individual campaigns for each of their departure airports, ensuring that seasonality, price and availability were all taken into account. To make use of inventory management, advertisers set up an inventory feed containing a list of products and their associated attributes, such as descriptions, pricing and capacity levels. The system then uses this feed to create campaigns, ad groups and ads tailored to the products and product attributes, adding or removing keywords as availability fluctuates.

Bidding on these campaigns was also fully automated using a Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) bid strategy. Audiences were targeted using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) built with data from Google Analytics 360, allowing the campaigns to prioritise audiences with higher potential profitability. This approach was automated using the adaptive RLSA feature in Search Ads 360, which enables the system to create and remove remarketing targets in order to drive maximum conversions, while adaptive location targeting was also applied to optimise geographic performance.

Increased revenue, reduced costs

Since in-housing their paid search management and adopting Search Ads 360, Norwegian Airlines have seen a 40% increase in revenue and an 11% reduction in costs, year-on-year. “Bid automation has been a very helpful solution for us,” says Mario Garcia, “and inventory management has saved lots of time in campaign and ad group generation. Now we’re looking forward to refining our optimisation systems further with business data, and focusing on incremental sales with data-driven attribution and multi-moment bidding.”

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