Shifting to data-driven attribution with AdWords ECPC bidding strategies delivers 23% more bookings at 17% lower CPA for Hostelworld

October 2017

As the largest online hostel-booking platform, Hostelworld uses AdWords to buy engaged traffic across the world. In order to optimise campaigns and drive marketing efficiency, the team was keen to move away from using a last-click attribution model since they felt it didn’t appropriately value each click and campaign in customers’ conversion paths. In fact, data-driven attribution had shown that last-click was under or overvaluing certain campaigns – sometimes by up to 100%.

About Hostelworld

The largest online hostel-booking platform sparking social experiences around the world

33,000 properties across 170 countries


Maximise paid search effectiveness

Bid more efficiently using real-time bidding signals


Moved to data-driven attribution in AdWords

Tested if Enhanced CPC (ECPC) bidding with data-driven attribution signals could create a performance uplift


With AdWords ECPC and data-driven attribution

Conversion rate increased by 26%

Cost per acquisition declined by 17%

Bookings grew by 23%

As a test, Hostelworld used AdWords campaign drafts and experiments to set up a 50/50 split for the original control campaign (which used bids from a third party) and the experiment campaign. 

In the experiment campaign, the Hostelworld team layered their third-party bidding tool with Enhanced CPC (ECPC), a bid strategy that adjusts the cost per click in real time to help maximise conversions. This strategy helped the team to raise bids in situations that were more likely to lead to a sale or other conversion, and lowered bids for situations that were less likely to lead to a conversion. Enhanced CPC also made it possible to add new signals to the bidding, such as data-driven attribution, location, time of day and so forth.

Hostelworld ran the test for seven weeks, then waited for the 30-day conversion window to expire before conducting a full analysis. The results showed that bidding with data-driven attribution via the ECPC campaign produced a 23% growth in bookings and 26% increase in conversion rate, resulting in a 22% decrease in impressions until conversion and a 17% decrease in cost per acquisition versus bidding with the third party alone.

"The difference in results when using data-driven attribution bidding, as opposed to last-click, helped us to reshape our strategy and to expand our upper funnel campaigns."

- Corinne Ferguson, PPC Team Lead, Hostelworld Group

"Data-driven attribution gave us a much clearer and more accurate view of our media spend and campaign performance, allowing us to be more flexible and to adjust our strategy towards more productive areas of search."

- Lena Vasileiadou, PPC Manager, Hostelworld Group

“Layering ECPC and using data-driven signals on top of our third-party bidding tool allowed us to access the potential of real-time bidding and to have a much faster reaction time to customer signals than we otherwise would have achieved”, says Andrea Parapini, Senior PPC Executive at Hostelworld Group. The improved efficiencies enabled the team to reinvest and expand campaigns, and target more top-funnel keywords. Once the test period was concluded, Hostelworld immediately rolled out ECPC to all dynamic search ad campaigns across markets. The second phase of the rollout was to enable ECPC in all non-brand campaigns in all markets. It’s now an integral part of Hostelworld’s bidding strategy moving forward.

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