Facebook Updates Flight Ads to Go Beyond Retargeting Users

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

The summer holiday season is over but it won’t be long before consumers start booking their flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas. With so many airlines, travel agencies and online ticket retailers, it can be difficult to reach a target demographic. Facebook recently announced some updates to their Flight Ads that could make the platform more appealing for advertisers.

Facebook has provided retargeting for flights and flight-based apps, but those could only be targeted to people who had used the app or the airline’s website. In an update to make Flight Ads more useful to advertisers, Flight Ads will now enable airlines to target an audience based on people’s visits to other flight-related Pages, websites and apps.

In a blog post announcing the update, Facebook said: “For example, let’s say people are looking at holiday trips to Mexico by browsing several airline sites and flight pricing apps. Airline brands can now use Flight Ads to reach those people with tailored ads promoting relevant flight routes. In addition, travelers that visit a travel-related Facebook Page, but have not yet chosen a trip destination may see an ad to visit an airline brand’s site.”

This may seem like a strange route to take given the Facebook’s recent purge of ad filters to prevent overly targeted ads. The Flight Ads will rely a heavily on user behavior and it won’t be particularly subtle. However, Facebook is making it easy for users to opt out of these ads entirely from within the Preference settings. This will hopefully mitigate any backlash and Facebook has stated, “as with all advertising on Facebook, flight advertisers can reach customers without learning personal information about them.”

The updates to the Flight Ads produced positive results during the beta period. According to Facebook, Air France used Flight Ads to acquire new US customers, driving targeted search volume to its site, while lowering cost per search by 66 percent. Similarly, Hopper, an airfare forecasting app, saw a large drop in its cost per app install using this new prospecting option.

According to Simon Lejeune, the Head of User Acquisition at Hopper,  “Opening up prospecting for Flight Ads has made a huge difference on our campaign performance. Our cost per install dropped by almost 20 percent on Facebook and the interaction rates skyrocketed due to the increased relevance of the ads,”

Airlines and flight-related apps should consider using the new Flight Ads as a way to reach new audiences. The intent-centric algorithm makes it easier to find the right customer at the right moment to make a sale. In a way, it creates the “happy coincidence” when a customer is looking at travel pages and sees an offer for an incredible deal on a flight to that location.  

The new ad format will be rolling out over the next few weeks to audiences around the world. Besides regular Facebook placement, the updated Flight Ads will be available for Instagram and the Facebook Ad Network audience. By greatly expanding the reach of Flight Ads beyond a simple retargeted audience, Facebook has given airlines and flight-booking apps a way to find new customers.

For more news about recent changes to social media ads, read this article about Twitter’s new political ad rules which will go into effect on Sept. 30th.

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