5 Lessons Strategists Would Share About Digital Paid Media Campaigns, If You Let Them

August 11, 2022

Do we really need to talk about the secrets of digital media campaigns anymore? For destinations worldwide, it’s clear that traditional advertising – TV spots, printed sponsored content, print ads – are not the way of the future. If you’re reading this blog post – online – surely you already know that the internet is, you know, here.

Digital advertising works because it creates new opportunities for destinations, connecting them to audiences in more engaging and efficient ways. It’s so much more than banner ads on a website.

And unlike traditional media, it comes with a dashboard that gives you control over your marketing. You can see traffic reports and results in real time, helping inform future campaigns and advertising possibilities. Efficient. Effective. Enlightening. Digital paid media is where it’s all happening, but we know it isn’t easy to master.

DCI’s own digital strategists weigh in on some of the lessons they are itching to share with destination organizations.

1. Harvest a cornucopia of first-party data

If you don’t have thoughts on first-party data, then you’re missing the boat on what a digital advertising campaign can offer. Instead of relying on a third party to supply data, engaging in your own digital advertising program allows you to optimize and personalize the data you are collecting from your campaign. 

While you set goals that are quantifiable and incremental, first-party data allows you to follow your progress. It allows you, the destination organization, to customize everything you do and collect, and to have full ownership over your campaign. That means total control, which is a rare luxury in today’s ever-changing digital world. As Google pushes to do away with third-party cookies, destination organizations need to consider how they’ll track potential customers when the jar is ultimately empty.

Third party data is phasing out, so it’s high time to refocus your efforts to favor efficiency and value-driven ads in order to win over potential travelers. User-shared data is the way forward, even if that means creating more transparent privacy policies. Destinations need to rethink their digital strategies and realize that working with first-party data is less of a trend and more of a necessity moving forward.

2. Engage in a truly customer-centric campaign

Data guides your decisions, but don’t forget that every data point relates back to a potential customer who is scrolling Instagram or searching Google to find out more about your destination. The power of exploiting search data and learning how customers – or rather, future travelers – find your destination is key to personalizing your tactics and campaigns. You may think people are finding you simply by entering your destination name into a search engine, but that’s likely shortsighted.

Engaging in digital advertising practices that uncover the search habits of your target customers will undeniably help you better connect with them across all channels. Search behavior screams volumes about what today’s travelers are looking for, and being able to serve it up to them is essential to achieving your goals.

And remember, when prospective travelers search and arrive at your destination – online, of course – be sure the experience is engaging, convenient, and straightforward. Landing on a messy DMO website is akin to landing at an airport where nothing works right. The visitor may just be inclined to turn around and go home.

3. Respect and Revere AI and automation

Both artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are superb partners in any digital advertising campaign. But partners don’t mean they are creative decision makers. While some destination organizations may see them as the heavy lifters, we strategists insist that they are more like flashlights shining lights on your campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. Treat them such and you’ll be able to take the appropriate human steps based on what AI is showing you.

They are exciting components of a digital paid media campaign, if used effectively. They can help destinations better target potential visitors and track conversions. Ultimately, however, they will help the destination organization decide what its next step should be, if the messaging is working, or if you should totally rethink your campaign.

4. Acknowledge all digital spaces

There’s nowhere online that destinations aren’t splashed across a screen. From social media and news sites to OTAs and YouTube, there are seemingly endless possibilities to advertise. But even more than these “traditional” digital advertising landscapes, destination organiztaionis must think about the developing OTT/CTV markets, pairing with at-home streaming services to get brands in front of customers.

Bringing personalized content to viewers at home is just another powerful way digital paid media strategies can get your destination out there. There are organic ways destinations can work with streaming services, but digital advertising methods are equally productive. You’ll find fewer perfect moments to push your destination in front of receptive audiences than during a travel documentary or show on the latest streaming service.

Overwhelmed by the potential of digital paid media? We get it. That’s why DCI offers digital and social media marketing services to help guide destinations through their digital advertising journey. Get in touch with Susan Brake at [email protected] to learn more about what our destination marketing agency can do for you.