Event-booking company wins big with paid search in Vegas
More than 42 million people visit Las Vegas, Nevada, annually.1 Regardless of whether you prefer what happens there to stay there, the so-called “Entertainment Capital of the World” drives crowds to the desert in spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Of course, you must get there first, which is where Vegas.com comes in.
Just as the name suggests, Vegas.com specializes in Las Vegas travel and entertainment. “We sell all things Las Vegas,” says Juliana Dean, Vegas.com digital marketing manager. The online travel agency strives to offer the best rates on hotel bookings as well as sweet deals like up to 60% off shows, sinful and sinless clubs, bucket-list attractions and more. For those who want a day’s adventure outside the city, the company can also book tours of nearby landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. You can even get recommendations for a wedding chapel should the romantic or soon-to-be-regretted mood strike.
I can try new things like the In-market Audiences pilot, where I can rely on the intelligence of the system to guide me on who may be ready to purchase. We tapped into a larger audience and was excited to see nearly 27% increase in return on ad spend.
— Juliana Dean, digital marketing manager, Vegas.com
Online travel agencies work within a very competitive industry in which customers tend to go where the best prices lead them. Survival often depends on service and finding a niche. Vegas.com has achieved that and more by focusing on delivering great, discounted experiences for one specific location. “I think our biggest advantages are pricing and the ease of making a purchase,” says Dean. “We’ve increased our conversion rates a lot by looking at our customers’ habits and addressing their demands.”
Year in and year out, shows have been the site’s bread and butter. “We're surprised by how much we're still able to grow ticket sales,” Dean says. “As far as Las Vegas shows go, we have a pretty strong hold on the market.” Part of that comes from getting into the online market in 1998, before most others did. Another part comes from exclusive ticket deals and discounts such as on mobile or last-minute sales. The site also provides a wealth of information about shows. “Our visitors can see pictures, videos, reviews — kind of everything a user would need to make a decision.”
Juliana Dean, digital marketing manager, Vegas.com
Vegas.com recently turned its focus toward increasing hotel bookings. Because the city is one of the top destinations for travelers, the site doesn’t focus on any particular crowd, but it does target an audience between the ages of 25 and 54. “Everyone comes here for different reasons or celebrations,” says Dean. “There’s no core audience or single mold.” This is what makes search engine marketing (SEM) so important to the company.
Paid search often serves as the first step for customers planning a vacation. That makes getting in front of them in the moment vitally important. To help with that mission, Dean uses multiple paid search platforms, including Bing Ads. The results she has seen with Bing Ads in particular have driven her to increase the percentage she commits to the platform. For example, return on ad spend increased by 27% in the first half of 2017. “We’ve mimicked our highest performing campaigns from other platforms on Bing Ads,” Dean says. “Return on ad spend is consistently strong, proving Bing Ads to be one of the most reliable platforms. ”
Similar metrics within the same time frame further illustrate Dean’s point. The click-through rate increased by 65%. As for conversions, the cost per conversion decreased by 20% while the conversion rate of visitors to the site increased by 30%.
Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas, Nevada
Dean loves using Bing Ads as a test avenue, experimenting with features such as In-market Audiences to target consumers that are in the market and ready to buy for the travel industry. This feature is currently in pilot, using the intelligence of the Bing platform in order to identify the ideal segment of consumers based on their digital behavior. For Dean, this feature wasn’t about missing an audience, but an opportunity to explore the Bing Network volume and capture all leads. Vegas.com was so excited from the initial results, they decided to break the campaign out further from Bid only to Target and Bid in order to help them focus on personalizing the message through ad copy and extensions.
The result? 65% increase in CTR, close to 35% increase in conversion, 20% less in cost per conversion, and 27% increase in return on ad spend. “I can try new things like the In-market Audiences pilot, where I can rely on the intelligence of the system to guide me on who may be ready to purchase. We tapped into a larger audience and was excited to see 27% increase in return on ad spend.”
A lot of the successful partnership comes from the collaborative spirit between Dean and the Bing Ads team. “Their people give me ideas to test that can mimic what I'm doing in other paid search channels,” Dean says. “We work together closely. I really trust their expertise and performance data.”
She also likes that the team takes a proactive stance over a reactive one. “The Bing Ads team lets me know what upcoming betas or tests we should try,” confides Dean. “I appreciate their candidness when they come to me and say, ‘Here's what's new and what I think will work or won’t.’“
I find Bing Ads very easy to manage and help us gain visibility into our account structure. I can quickly drill down into different campaigns, which has proven invaluable.
Dean has been with Vegas.com since 2012, working her way up from merchandising and product promotions to overseeing the site’s digital marketing spend. The transition has been fast and somewhat furious, but she has proven herself very savvy with the task at hand. She credits the Bing Ads team with helping her a lot. “We’ll meet every other week to discuss changes or track performance,” she says.
Overall, she says, Bing Ads is user-friendly. “I find Bing Ads very easy to manage and help us gain visibility into our account structure,” says Dean. “I can quickly drill down into different campaigns, which has proven invaluable.”
Day to day, she uses features such as Bing Ads Editor to create and manage her online advertising campaigns. She also likes labels, which help her organize campaigns, ads and keywords into groups as well as filter and run reports. “The Bing Ads reporting suite really keeps us on top of everything,” says Dean. “We can see a ton of different slices and dices of our audiences and campaigns.”
With the customer shift to mobile, Dean has found delivering a user-friendly mobile experience a must. She believes the format offers huge potential. “We're in a unique position where we often interact with users during the planning stages of their Vegas vacation, but we can also re-engage with them while they’re vacationing and looking for things to do. By using audience segments, mobile-specific campaigns and location targeting, we can message shoppers in real time, allowing us to capitalize on last-minute show ticket and attraction purchases."
For Dean, that means reaching people during critical shopping moments and advertising last-minute tickets and mobile-exclusive discounts, while they're out and about in Las Vegas. “That’s where we want to make sure we're capturing maximum user and search demand,” declares Dean. “I think the ability to have mobile-dedicated campaigns really plays in our favor.”
To those unfamiliar with or on the fence about using Bing Ads, Dean believes they need to test it out. “I think the Bing audience is important,” shares Dean. “It's in different places on the web where you maybe wouldn't think to advertise. I feel Bing Ads can help you capture many more people searching for the stuff that your company has to offer.”
View or save the infographic to see how Vegas.com grew its click-through rate by 65% and decreased the cost per conversion by 20% using Bing Ads in its paid search strategy.