ListsVideo MarketingYouTubeHow to plan an Actionable Video Ad Campaign similar to Airbnb?

Sidharth Jena2 years ago

A normal social media text post says a thousand words, a social media post with a picture shows a thousand feelings but a video post on any social media platform is priceless. That is why, many leading brands and content creators around the world opt for video content over any other form. Digital video has always been more engaging. With higher reach, audience retention & conversion rate, video content showcases an immersive & real-life experience thereby enabling better conversions, especially when it comes to travel & tourism industry. Here in this blog, we will take the example of Airbnb, a global leading homestay aggregator. This blog will analyze how Airbnb is leveraging video ad campaigns to expand globally and at the same time ensuring higher customer retention. 

Number of video uploads & video watch time on social platforms have quadrupled in the last 5 years with over 87% marketers opting to invest in digital video ads.

Airbnb Video Ad Campaign 

Much before the innovation and digitalization of travel & hospitality industry, people used to travel and also share their travel experiences with others while travel companies used the non-digital way of promoting travel packages and experiences to customers. 

Source: Google Images

Welcome to the 21st century! The period dominated by social media. Today, there is a high chance of every active social media user coming across a post related to travel that would eventually influence the user to plan and book the same trip. But it’s the second & third stage, i.e planning and booking, that matters the most to marketers and this is where the need for innovation and creativity carves in.

Now, here is the deal-breaker question? Can you bring down those potential customers down the purchase funnel for your travel based company? 

Check out how Airbnb achieved this feat using actionable video marketing campaigns.

Globally, Airbnb has over 5 million homestay listings in over 81,000 cities. With great power comes great responsibilities and even greater challenges to achieve goals. Some of the challenges for Airbnb team were: –

1) Increasing customer awareness about the brand and most specifically in Latin American region. 

2) Compete with already established businesses in the same industry vertical, specifically in Brazil. 

As mentioned earlier, a video post on any social media platform is always priceless and for video ad promotions, there cannot be a better platform than YouTube. Pundits at Airbnb also felt the same way and they turned to YouTube to actually influence the Brazilian population to go out, travel and to choose Airbnb for their accommodation options

Video Content Strategy by Airbnb for Video Ad Campaign

Rather than going for a typical advertisement content, folks at Airbnb chose a storytelling approach for their video content. Six real-life Airbnb hosts were selected to feature in the video and showcase the real Brazilian culture, warmth & hospitality with a glimpse of greenery, oil paintings etc all saying, “Pode Entrar”, which translates into, “You may come in”. 

The idea was to showcase real-life stories with real people in real homes with real experiences.

Google Ads Strategy by Airbnb for Video Ad Campaign 

Now, all that Airbnb needed to do was to target properly followed by selecting the right budget and then most importantly analyze the analytics from the video ad campaigns. In order to do all this, Airbnb team came up with 4 tactics to ensure effective fulfillment of the goals.

4 point tactics applied by Airbnb are: – 

1) A Small Testing campaign in the initial phase: – The video ad campaign was initially launched during the offseason to visit Brazil. This helped the marketing team to test many performance tools with ease and without any budget pressure. One such performance tool predominantly used by Airbnb was the TrueView for action. The CTA (call to action) used by Airbnb was “Reservar” or “Reserve” that took the users directly to the website of Airbnb to search accommodation options with dates. 

The smaller campaign helped the team to understand various permutations and combinations for performance tools, the right budget, the right time, the right content before going all guns blazing for the global video ad campaign. 

2) Targeting the Right Audience through Machine Learning: – Having an account on social media and being actively involved in social media are two different things. Folks at Airbnb identified this difference to perfection and choose the latter, i.e active or most engaging social media users that are most likely to convert, all this were done using machine learning. This new technology was used to identify the most engaging audience groups and search terms with high search volume that would ensure higher conversions for the homestay aggregator company. 

Looks easy on paper but the key to success here is patience because a TrueView action performance tool needs time before it can deliver a video ad campaign with flawless results and accurate targeting.

3) Tailor made Creatives for Affinity Audience: – The best way to leverage the power of digital video ads is to always keep on expanding your TG audience. This was achieved by Airbnb when they choose to follow a simple advertisement strategy. The San Francisco based company came up with different video content, each depicting a new experience, adventure or an interest. The only thing in common was the message all carried at the end, “Pode Entrar”. 

Next, Airbnb went for a targeting option that is mostly used by the best marketers globally, i.e Affinity Audience. This targeting method helped them to target those people who have a greater chance of watching a video on travel where the video ad content would play either as a bumper or pre-roll ad. 

A travel-related video playing an ad related to travel. It’s like showing your ad to the audience just when the user is thinking about travel.

For Example: – A user frequently watches videos related to water sports on YouTube. In such cases the user is more likely to see an ad on that video, where a host who is an expert in surfing or scuba diving would be sharing his expertise and how he can make his holiday a memorable one if the user opts to book the homestay through Airbnb. 

NOTE: Airbnb also lists adventures as experiences in their app clubbed with accommodation options.

4) Measure the Marketing Funnel: – Any user looking to travel is a potential customer for Airbnb and the folks in the company also think the same. This is the reason their marketing funnel starts when a user starts planning a trip and goes down till the same user finally books an accommodation on their site or app. Including the trip planning stage in the marketing funnel resulted in the extension of the campaign analysis period to 120 days rather than the traditional 30 days period followed by majority of marketers for an actionable video ad campaign. This extension however reaped great numbers for the company.

Result of having an extended campaign analysis period: –

142% increase in search volume for branded search terms (Data Source: Think With Google) 

14% rise in bookings (Data Source: Think With Google)

Genius is Eternal Patience


Video ad campaigns have the power to drive in results for your company overnight because of its higher reach and being a more engaging form of content but at the same time if a video ad campaign is planned with such precision targeting and planning, like that of Airbnb then giving it time to grow is always a good idea.

Custom Video Insights

Sidharth Jena

Sidharth is a Sports and Travel Enthusiast with keen interest in the field of Marketing especially Digital Marketing. He finds ultimate happiness in small things and doing simple yet un-common things. Helping brands/companies go Online.

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