Experiment: How Airbnb sparked travelers’ interest across their planning stages

May 2019

What we set out to test

Can advanced audiences on YouTube spark interest and unlock relevant results with audiences at different stages of their decision-making journey?

The background

Airbnb is the global leader in vacation rentals. Looking to build its brand in APAC, the company identified India as one of its focus markets. Airbnb wanted to increase consideration with Indian travelers who were in the “dreaming” and “planning” stages of their travel-planning journey as well as customers ready to book their stay. To do so, the vacation rental company leveraged TrueView ads on YouTube during peak travel season to position itself as an alternative to hotels for international travel.

This campaign let Airbnb experiment with different audiences and explore what works best to help the company identify the optimal signals in various stages of the decision-making journey and achieve its campaign goals of brand recall, consideration, and consumer interest.

How we set the experiment up

To reach Indian travelers, Airbnb ran YouTube TrueView video ads featuring India’s top influencers, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, in the country’s five biggest cities. The vacation rental company set up three customized audiences, each with separate campaigns:

  • Custom affinity: based on signals exhibited by individual customers
  • Custom intent: based on what customers were searching on Google
  • In-market audience: based on users in the market for travel 

Test group: Airbnb used three different video creative across its three different audience segments.

Control group: Airbnb ran general ads in cities outside the top five.

By testing different audiences on YouTube, Airbnb was able to identify optimal search signals in the various stages of travel planning.

Solutions we used

What we learned

Custom affinity audiences made it easy for Airbnb to reach travelers in the “dreaming” phase, capture their attention, and spark their interest using broader audience segments based on individual consumer signals.

Custom intent and in-market audiences helped Airbnb connect with consumers in the “planning” stage of their travel journey and drive purchases for those ready to book.

airbnb centered

This case study is part of the Experiment with Google Ads program.

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