As per United Nations, Internet users are going to reach 3 billion at the end of 2014 which is almost 40% of the world’s population. It also gives insights about mobile broadband penetration approaching 32%. Since the inception of internet businesses is no longer dependent on a specific geographical location, it now can target audience from all over the world. The internet has not only given businesses new customers, but how do they interact with their employees and most importantly to their customers.
According to eMarketer’s estimates, worldwide spending on ads served to internet-connected devices including desktop and laptop computers, mobile phones and tablets will reach $137.53 billion this year. Digital spend is 14.8% over 2013 and for the year 2015; the advertising spend will be $154.29 billion.
The online advertising is less expensive, wider geographical reach, easy measurable and can reach target audience. The enormous scale of the internet, the growth of data, and the resulting growth of a variety of advertising networks, let businesses identify who they want to reach and actually reach them in a cost environment that didn’t really exist before online advertising developed.
Jack Loechner, in his article, mentions that one of the most important benefits of online advertising is targeting and measurability. The writer reviews the new Marin Software study, conducted by Forrester Research. The key findings of the study show that brands value online advertising because it is flexible, targetable and drives immediate revenue income. Few of the key results of the findings were that 68% of respondents’ who chose accurately targeting as among their top three choices. The second most important benefit was that 49% respondents chose campaign measurability, followed by more efficient marketing operations. The most interesting part of the report was that 78% businesses still rely on traditional paid search ads.
Airbnb is a global brand present in more than 190 countries and to reach its target audience; online advertising is the best medium. The brand has followed an online advertising model to reach its target audience rather than offline model. Businesses want efficient ways to grow their customer base, and online advertising is one of the major pieces that enables, cost-effective customer growth. Measurability is important for every business to sustain in the marketplace. The Forrester Research report mentions that 69% respondents used site traffic as their metrics to measure their online ad program effectiveness. Any campaign the brand executes, measuring the traffic on the website from different sources like, banner ads, affiliates, and blog can be measured by sites traffic source. Airbnb relies on their website for any transaction as that the only place a traveler and the host would meet.
Airbnb successfully targets its customers through, Google and Facebook. Google lets advertisers reach the biggest audience online that are intent on finding all kinds of things (i.e. products, places, services). Facebook lets you reach just about anyone based on personal data like jobs, personal interests, and connections to other brands. These are a few of the larger networks. There are many more networks that help advertisers target specific audiences around the web.
Airbnb launched its first global ad campaign in nine markets in May 2014. The campaign has 60-second spot, along with 30- and 15-second cuts and display ads that link back to micro-sites where people can peruse bookable Airbnb listings in their native language. The ads will appear on publishers including AFAR, YouTube, Dwell, Lonely Planet, Buzzfeed, the BBC, Facebook and Twitter. The campaign seeks to explain Airbnb’s value proposition for its online marketplace of people. It is for people who are looking to rent their apartments, rooms and houses to short-term visitors: that traveling can be a more personal experience from within someone else’s home. The brand has successfully crafted their digital marketing strategy where targeting and measurability plays an important role.
Advertisement on the Site
Airbnb promotes homes, apartments and villas from around the world on its website. Airbnb CTO, Nathan Blecharczyk mentions that hosts are their partner and their customers. Airbnb promotes their partners on the website for travelers to find it and go ahead with the bookings. The brand promotes cities on the website, weekend gateway on the website with pictures of the cities. Once clicked on these cities, the site displays different kinds of rental with pictures and cost. The site also displays Google maps to show the location of the rental property which gives an idea to the traveler.
Airbnb promotes community on its website, which gives visitors option to make their own Airbnb logo. It provides with share you Airbnb section that visitors can share and initiate a conversation. The community also provides an option for travelers and homeowners on how to travel and how to host.
Airbnb is a marketplace that connects travelers and homeowners through one platform. Airbnb’s website is user-friendly, great content and can be easily navigated. Homeowners who advertise their home on Airbnb’s website are the advertisers, who do it for free. Airbnb allows them to use their platform to advertise their homes. It is beneficial to both the parties, where the brand earns the commission when a sale goes through, and homeowners earn when travelers book their home. Airbnb does not offer many products; instead they concentrate on travelers and homeowners, like, homes for travelers and vice-verse.
Airbnb projected itself as a hospitality company and launched their new products in November ‘2013 – the superhero program, stories, and group for hosts. The superhost program is an alliance of “extraordinary” Airbnb hosts who create unique and meaningful stays for their guest. The Stories program is a feature, where hosts and travelers can share their personal experiences with Airbnb. The group for hosts program is where hosts can connect with other hosts nearby. Airbnb is heading towards the hospitality industry by projecting itself as a community that connects people. The brand has running a trial on cleaning service where hosts will have the opportunity to set up recurring, professional cleaning appointments for their space. This service is meant to provide hosts with an affordable, easy to schedule, cleaning option to help them better prepare their space for guest arrivals.
Airbnb has taken steps to engage users through relevant content. It publishes Airbnb Neighborhoods, guidebooks that break down the most visited cities by neighborhood and provides location-specific travel tips. In the same window, users see available housing options in each neighborhood. Airbnb is most likely to come out with local companion feature which will allow travelers to connect to locals at the holiday destination. Travelers can ask them local companion about best restaurants; best places to visit and many more local things.
Airbnb does have an affiliate program to promote its referral program. Ryan Gargiulo (2014) explains in his blog about the Airbnb referral program provides credit for referring someone. The first deal is that one can earn travel credit of $25 when their referred friend completes a qualifying reservation as a guest. The second deal is that once can earn travel credit of $75, when their referred friend completes a qualifying reservation as a host. He further explains the process of how to get going for the referral program. After someone invites a friend to join Airbnb, the friend has to join Airbnb for the referent to claim their credit.
The catch in the whole offer is that it is valid for new account sign-ups and not for existing users. One can redeem the credit after opening the account through their Facebook or Email address. The writer explains that after opening an account, one can redeem the offer by reserving a qualifying Airbnb reservation of $75 or more. The payment towards the offer can be through Airbnb website and dealing directly with the hosts outside the network will be termed as service violation. If the booking is cancelled, the credit of $25 is also gone and the offer is valid for three years from the date it is issued.
Communication from the Website
After signing in, Airbnb has sent only one newsletter as a communication. It could be a different strategy by the brand, first to send communications to existing travelers and homeowners. The second part will be sent to people who have just made an account without any transaction. Usually every year, Airbnb creates a tool that allows travelers to send holiday greetings to hosts they had stayed with or guests they have accommodated. The campaign has no promotional copy nor did they have any sales-oriented call-to-action, but still generated good responses and bookings.