It’s hard to overstate how much mobile has impacted consumer behavior in recent years. Simply put, it’s where consumer attention is now. For travel consumers in particular, it’s where they go to find inspiration, research, book, and share their travel experiences.
This new reality requires travel brands - from airlines and hotels to online travel agencies and cruise lines - to think differently about how to engage customers. Driving growth in this new environment means standing out in a sea of mobile content and advertising.
As such, creative is now one of the most important performance drivers. In fact, according to Nielsen, 56% of a brand's sales lift from digital advertising can be attributed to high-quality creative.
And as machine learning becomes increasingly sophisticated at finding relevant travelers throughout the journey, it’s now more important than ever for advertisers to invest in creative that captures attention and drives action.
The creative that wins in the mobile world is not only relevant, it’s also visually-engaging, captivating and emotional - in short, it needs to be thumb-stopping.
Evolve from mobile-adapted to mobile-first
While many advertisers adapt their existing creative assets to work on mobile, we’ve seen travel brands succeed by actually designing creative for mobile.
This means planning for the mobile environment from the very first concept in order to truly take advantage of the unique formats provided by mobile platforms.
In part, that's why we’ve seen the popularity of Instagram Stories explode in recent years. The Stories format is designed for the way consumers want to engage on mobile: vertical screen orientation, interactive elements, and short-form video that quickly captures attention.
When building mobile-first creative, some best practices to consider include:
- Add lightweight motion to images to clearly define product benefits in a “thumb-stopping” way that is more informative and feed-friendly than a static image alone.
- Highlight the brand early, within 3 seconds of a video’s start to drive conversion lift.
- Stop thumbs with attention-grabbing thumbnails and product shots with vivid backgrounds and contrasting colors.
- Consider mobile asset specifications at the time of production.
As an example of putting these best practices into action, Facebook Watch built a video ad campaign to drive higher viewership of its original docu-series Stephen vs, the Game. Relevant and engaging full-screen vertical video ads were created for Facebook and Instagram.
One video ad captured attention by capitalizing on Steph’s reputation as the man who “ruined the game” due to his prolific 3-point shooting and unique talent. Here, he appeared to “ruin the phone” by throwing a basketball at the viewer’s screen - cracking and breaking it.
With thumb stopping creative like this, it’s no wonder the campaign resulted in 75% higher lift in show watch hours.
Understand the duality of direct response and brand advertising
On mobile, travel consumers’ attention doesn’t discriminate between direct response (DR) and brand advertising. In fact, despite having differing goals and outcomes, brand and DR campaigns often share a screen and even the same feed.
Traditionally, DR advertising in travel relies heavily on product, price and reasons to buy now. But too often overlooked in this equation is a strong visual brand identity. It takes less than half a second to trigger a reaction from the human brain.
Having sharp visual cues - with consistent colors, fonts, logo, tone and feel - are key in effectively representing a brand and breaking through in the minds of consumers while still driving direct response.
As an example, Hotels.com created a mobile-first campaign that incorporated consistent value messaging with the tag: "Be There. Do That.” as well as strong brand elements to encourage travelers to book their next trip.
Commit to experimentation and measurement
To stand out with creative, travel brands should continually experiment and measure the impact on their audiences.
Measurement tools such as Facebook’s Creative Split Test help understand the impact of creative variations and optimize toward those creatives that work best.
This process isn’t a one-and-done exercise. It’s important to implement an always-on testing model to adjust to changing customer needs and to replace under-performing assets.
Let travel consumers choose how they interact with you
Mobile has not only transformed consumers’ attention, but also their intention. Whether it’s a swipe, click or a scroll - just about everything is done with intention.
Travelers interact with creative formats in different ways, so giving them options in how they interact with your brand is a winning approach.
In our study of 3,000 brands we found that a portfolio-style approach to video ads works best to improve brand lift. So, instead of showing audiences one single type of asset three times - such as a six-second video - it’s better to expose audiences to 3 different assets of varying lengths and interactivity styles.
Not only does this allow customers to interact in their preferred format, it also provides the advertiser with additional signals about what each audience responds to.
Enjoy the journey
Looking ahead, one thing is for certain: travel consumers and how they behave on mobile will continue to evolve.
That’s why it’s imperative to apply proven best practices while constantly experimenting to learn what’s resonating with your customers.
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For more inspiration to help your creative strategies, check out Facebook Creative Shop’s inspiration page.