Apex Car Rentals drives global reach with dynamic search

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Grant Hoben February 2018 Search, Travel and Hospitality

Grant Hoben, Apex Car Rentals' head of digital marketing, explains how machine learning and dynamic search ads helped the brand efficiently reach a wider global audience of travellers.

Goals
Expand reach to a wider global audience at scale
Improve audience engagement with more relevant ads
Drive profitable incremental bookings
Approach
Launched Dynamic Search Ads campaigns to capture consumer interest
Implemented an automated Smart Bidding strategy
Scaled to 40+ global markets
Results
50% increase in conversion rate
49% decrease in CPA
25% decrease in cost per click

Since founding Apex Car Rentals in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1992, we’ve built a strong reputation for providing customers with exceptional service. After launching our first Australian location, we quickly established car rental branches in all major cities along the country’s eastern seaboard.

In the past, we had successfully used search ads to reach new consumers, but only invested in specific keyword-based campaigns. But with so many new car hire companies popping up and giving us stiffer competition, we needed to find a more efficient way to achieve greater reach with both domestic and international travellers.

Exploring the power of DSA

The way people search online is evolving—15% of searches on Google are new everyday. This presented an exciting opportunity for us to capture relevant incremental site traffic. Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) allowed us to capitalise on this opportunity by expanding our presence within the market and increasing our bookings.

Apex operates a large fleet of vehicles in Australia and New Zealand. As fleet utilisation changed with the seasons and fluctuating consumer travel patterns and demand, DSA helped us harness our website content to deliver more relevant ads and landing pages.

Using machine learning to match a brand’s site content to each search query, DSA populates custom ad creative relevant to what consumers are searching for. This shortens the path to conversion by taking users directly to what they’re searching for, straight from their search results.

DSA also captures relevant search queries that might otherwise be missed by only targeting specific keyword lists. This has freed up lots of time for our marketing team to focus on strategy instead of researching and building keyword lists. It automatically gave us the coverage we needed for a tailored advertising experience.

Making the leap to automated bidding

Despite my initial skepticism, our DSA test period was incredibly successful—so successful that when we saw the results, we immediately allocated additional funds to the campaign. Our next step was to move from manual bidding to an automated target cost-per-acquisition (tCPA) smart bidding strategy. tCPA uses machine learning to optimise bids for every auction, enabling us to capture more conversions at our target CPA.

“With the help of DSA’s smart bidding technology, we’ve seen a significant increase in conversions at a much lower cost per booking.”

Then we rolled out DSA campaigns to target over 40 global markets. DSA worked side by side with our keyword-based campaigns. The campaign cost effectively closed our keyword gaps and expanded Apex’s global reach.

Fueling future growth

DSA and smart bidding helped us boost our conversion rate (CVR) by 50% while also delivering 49% lower CPA and 25% lower cost-per-click (CPC) compared to standard search campaigns. Our marketing team also saved 20% of their time per week, allowing for more focus on strategy.

AU-Apex-results-nug

We needed to find a new way to reach a wider audience without breaking the bank. With the help of DSA’s smart bidding technology, we’ve seen a significant increase in conversions at a much lower cost per booking. As a result, we’ve moved more of our marketing budget to DSA and are working closely with our Google AdWords team to further optimise conversion opportunities.

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