How we helped Flight Centre’s enquiries increase by 68%

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, Flight Centre challenged their digital advertising agency, FCB New Zealand, with a seemingly impossible task to increase travel enquiries by 20% and bookings by 10%. The answer came with our extensive collection of first-party search data.

Identifying the ideal customer

Google data showed that the week leading up to Christmas has the year's lowest search volume for flight and travel-related terms. The first step of FCB’s approach was to find the right target audience. After reading a study of New Zealand’s Christmas behavior, over 25% of people still hadn’t started buying presents at this time.

This segment was named the ‘settle shoppers’ to characterise those (mainly men) who, with the mounting time pressure of the Christmas holiday, make hasty purchases.

Engaging the audience

With our extensive collection of first-party search data and partnership with Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) ad serving technology, we used DFP to consolidate the first party data into segments that could be sold programmatically, providing advertisers with better targeting and in turn, users with more relevant ads.

Our Head of Advertising, Josh Borthwick, adds that “DFP’s advertising stack allows us to connect audience data, onsite inventory and programmatic buying platforms seamlessly with far less fuss and effort than solutions from multiple vendors.”

Reaching the ‘settle shoppers’

Our new data setup was leveraged to target ‘settle shoppers’. We identified items that customers were seeking, and as they continued on their digital journey, Flight Centre, delivered customised banners in real-time, featuring the products they were looking for and showing them a holiday destination as an alternative gift.

For example, upon searching for necklaces on Trade Me the week before Christmas, the person would see a display ad with this messaging: “Sure, you could give her something like this,” with an image of the necklace they had previously searched for on Trade Me. Then the viewer would see a frame saying: “Or, you could take her some place like this”, showing Bali — the destination chosen to be advertised based on the demographics of the person and Flight Centre’s available product inventory.

A sense of urgency was created with text such as “24 tickets left to buy” along with the last day of the sale: December 24. Finally, customers were shown prices with the option to buy. This combination of Trade Me’s search data with demographics and Flight Centre inventory allowed for literally thousands of different ads, which were tailored to various types of settle shoppers.


The campaign ran until Christmas Day and exceeded expectations, driving a 68% year-over-year increase in enquiries and a 28% year-over-year increase in bookings.

The deals, destinations and budget remained unchanged from the prior year, demonstrating that the data-driven nature of the campaign had been a key factor in the results. Digital tracking shows that FCB’s campaign for Flight Centre directly drove an ROI of 2.4:1, taking into consideration enquiries, bookings and growth to the retargeting pool.

The team at Flight Centre were thrilled with the results and the powerful impact of data-driven advertising with Jodie Burnard, General Manager Marketing at Flight Centre, adding that “it’s this type of innovative thinking, advanced targeting and rapid execution that highlights the value of our agency partnership. After the success of this campaign there has been global interest in taking this approach and applying it to other markets.”

This case study was first published by DoubleClick by Google.