Expedia’s innovative use of TV reaps rewards


Key Points                              

  • Expedia needed to find a way to stand out from their competitors and drive sales without increasing their budget
  • They created a highly contextual campaign combined with a discount offer
  • The campaign delivered an ROI of £1.30 for every £1 spent

The Challenge

In 2014, there were a host of new entrants into the market plus a number of re-launches for existing travel retailers which meant that the category spend had increased by a massive 44% (Source: Nielsen). In 2015, it was clear that Expedia would struggle to compete when it came to budget levels, as their competitors had deeper pockets. They needed to find a way to compete with the ever increasing number of travel brands without significantly increasing their budget.

They had to find a solution that meant they could stand out in an engaging way whilst supporting their established ‘Travel Yourself Interesting’ message. Their key objective was to find a cost effective way to drive attributable sales for Expedia.

The TV Solution

Expedia’s ‘Travel yourself interesting’ positioning plays to a key insight that the social capital of sharing knowledge and experiences is a huge part of what we all love about travelling.  In addition, research from Flamingo showed that TV viewers have six need states throughout the day, one being the need to “escape” and immerse themselves in their favourite TV programmes. Advertising works best when it reflects the need state of the viewer and so for a brand that literally sells escapes, this would be the perfect match.

Expedia’s media agency PHD put together a plan that was a contextually perfect combination of the right message at the right time to the right audience. In the travel retail category, by far the busiest time of year is between Boxing Day and early February and so PHD felt that by extending the campaign over a longer period (Q1 and Q2), they would deliver better results than focussing solely in January, as many of their competitors would be doing.

The Plan

PHD created a highly targeted media strategy that harnessed the glamour of big budget TV locations in order to stimulate viewers’ interest in high value destinations. In addition, each ad had a contextually relevant ‘travel yourself interesting’ message.

They negotiated a partnership with Sky Media which allowed them to hand pick programmes from across its entire channel portfolio. This meant access to programmes with glamourous foreign locations in genres like drama, sport and movies.

Each ad started with an interesting fact about the location of the show being watched and concluded with a prompt to go to sky.com/expedia to get £100 off your next holiday at Expedia.co.uk. On this microsite, viewers were able not only to collect the code but also to book flights and hotels there and then.

Sky Creative produced 22 different contextually relevant ads. Examples include ads with a fact about:

  • Washington that went out in Scandal
  • Iceland that went out in Fortitude
  • Barcelona that went out in a UEFA Champions League Game featuring Barca FC
  • New York that went out in The Wolf of Wall Street movie

EXPEDIA-contextually-relevant-adsAcross the campaign, there were on average 34 spots a month from January to June. Each week, PHD analysed the best performing redemption spots which allowed them to optimise upcoming programming accordingly. 

To support the TV activity, there was activity on social media that was timed to match every TV ad’s transmission. In addition there was support with VOD on Sky Go, Sky On Demand and Sky PC VOD. The contextual ads ran in the same, carefully selected shows on-demand. They also ran contextually relevant display ads online.


  • 96% of total traffic to the Sky.com/expedia hub came within 15 minutes of the contextual TV spots airing which demonstrated that not only did the ads cut through but also generated an immediate response
  • Redemption of the unique sky.com discount code generated sales that delivered an ROI of £1.30 for every £1 spent
  • The average campaign booking value was 98% greater than the average basket size

We loved this idea from the start – it cleverly tapped into the essence of ‘Travel Yourself Interesting’ and allowed us to heighten it with contextual relevance, around great TV content. Not only was the idea creative and smart, it also showed how quality and context can really deliver measurable results and ROI – all in an incredibly competitive category.

Melanie Stonier Head of Marketing EMEA Expedia


Sector: e-commerce

Brand: Expedia.co.uk

Campaign objectives: To drive cost effective sales

Target Audience: All adults

Budget: Between £500,000 and £750,000

Campaign Dates: The campaign ran from 1st January to 28th June 2015

TV Usage: 20 and 10 second spots

Creative Agency: Sky Creative

Media Agency:  PHD

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