Digital marketers know that the consumer’s path to purchase is no longer linear or even cyclical. It’s become increasingly frenetic, involving multiple channels and devices, and often involves more than 100 individual online interactions before a booking is made. In response to this major shift, new advertising technologies have emerged that allow marketers to track and engage with consumers across multiple channels, creating connection points between data, and across media touchpoints channels that were not previously possible.
In previous ski campaigns, Destination BC had been capturing and reporting on direct referrals to ski resorts – meaning clicks from Destination BC-owned website properties or ads linking direct to a resort’s site. This provided a limited view of the consumer path to purchase, and of the true impact of the corporation’s annual digital marketing investment into ski.
As part of the 2016/17 ski strategy, Destination BC wanted to also measure indirect referrals, in order to better understand the effectiveness of marketing efforts – specifically in driving leads to ski industry partners. Capturing this information required working closely with ski resort partners on a collective approach to data sharing through tagging.
With the support of the Canada West Ski Areas Association and eleven of its thirteen ski resorts, a collaborative approach to tagging was established.
The goal was to create an attribution model that helps Destination BC understand which marketing activities drive consumers along the purchase path to book a trip to BC. Floodlight tagging is the first step towards building this attribution model.
Floodlight tags track how many visitors Destination BC refers to a partner website (called a referral), and how many bookings those visitors actually make, whether through a Destination BC-led campaign or a sector-led campaign.
Referrals and bookings are tracked as either post-click or post-view conversions:
This data helps Destination BC understand the effectiveness of marketing programs, and what content, and which channels, best result in conversions through the path-to-purchase, leading to better marketing optimization.
In August 2016, Destination BC, via its media agency, created two tags for each of the resorts:
Each resort was provided with the two tags, instructions on how to place the tags on their website, FAQs, and a point of contact to assist with any technical problems or issues.
Destination BC’s ski campaign launched on August 31, 2016 and ended on February 12, 2017. Some of the results that can be attributed to the tagging project include:
A total of eleven resorts placed referral tags on their websites, with tags added on a rolling basis at different times throughout the campaign.
Nearly 425,000 referrals were generated through Destination BC’s digital advertising activities. A few key highlights:
While referrals were the primary measure of success for the campaign, floodlight tags enabled Destination BC to understand how its digital marketing activities also influenced further actions, such as travel bookings or website engagement actions. Over 2,000 booking and conversion actions were linked back to Destination BC paid media activities.
These tags also allowed Destination BC to gather data and share insights on who was responding to digital campaigns. For example, the top referral converters of the campaign were predominantly male, between the age of 35-64, educated and affluent. They were outdoor enthusiasts and had an interest in travel, technology, and photography. Some of the popular sites they visited were wunderground.com, realtor.com, cnn.com and yahoo.com. Understanding these interests and visited sites can help guide Destination BC, and its ski resort partners, in increasing reach by building custom target audiences, seeking other ways to reach these audiences (i.e. partnerships), and targeting ads to the sites they visit most often.
With the support of the eleven ski resorts, in a collaborative approach to tagging, Destination BC has been able to improve the measurement of impact of digital marketing campaigns and share new information with the ski resorts. Building on the success of this pilot, Destination BC plans to expand this common floodlight tagging approach to an increased number of partners.
To learn more and to explore if Destination BC’s tagging project can help you, contact ConsumerMarketing@DestinationBC.ca.
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