Are you an adventure traveler or a luxury traveler?
(I lean towards the adventure side!)
Regardless of the type, if you’re any kind of traveler, you have heard of Airbnb.
But guess what?
Airbnb is more than just a stay-booking business.
It’s a whole university of marketing in itself.
Thanks to all the experimentation they do.
And today we’re decoding one of their clever campaigns that took the idea of advertising to a whole different level.
Going Back in Time a Bit
Airbnb used to be very heavily reliant on performance marketing from the start.
Especially on the conversion part.
Meaning, they only targeted people who were ready to buy.
And they were paying to acquire those customers.
- FB and Google Search Ads
- YouTube Ads
- Affiliate marketing
But things changed, and acquiring customers started getting expensive.
They realized that this was not gonna be a sustainable approach to building a brand.
Hence they started shifting their focus from just performance marketing to a full-funnel marketing strategy.
Targeting users at all levels of the funnel.
The campaign we’re decoding today was a part of that bigger strategy and was used to launch their new product ‘Airbnb Adventures’. (Now ‘Experiences’)
An experience for people who want to “ditch the tourist trails.”
“and go deeper with wildly unique adventures around the world.”
This is how they defined it.
In simplest terms, they were predefined packages and all you had to do was show up.
But this was more for adventure seekers than regular travelers.
So it needed to be marketed that way.
The Start of The Campaign
They invited six random people, complete strangers to each other to try ‘Airbnb Adventures’.
The adventurers had no idea about where they would be going.
They were told to simply pack their bags and get ready for their next adventure.
Where did they end up?
Throughout the trip, Airbnb filmed short videos – capturing authentic footage of the travelers having fun and sharing experiences.
Use that footage for their ads.
The Campaign Strategy
This time they weren’t just going for the conversion.
They also wanted to educate people i.e. raise awareness, build interest, and then get the conversion.
For this, they created several ads highlighting ‘Airbnb Adventures’.
This included 6-second bumpers, 15-second ads, and a long-form ad around the six travelers’ journey.
They heavily focused on storytelling and building that intrigue.
This is where it gets interesting.
They used ads for all stages of the funnel to tell the story.
- Ad 1 for awareness or capturing attention.
- Ad 2 for interest or building engagement.
- Ad 3 for conversion.
Doing all of this for the same person.
But who was that person? The target audience?
They weren’t just targeting random people who were interested in ‘traveling’ in general.
They were very specific with their targeting.
Using affinity targeting.
(Reaching users based on what they’re passionate about and their habits and interests)
Targeting people who would most likely try Adventures.
For example, if someone was searching for a tropical holiday, they’d see an ad like this:
And if someone was searching for something like ‘sand-boarding’, they’d see an ad like this:
The campaign drove significant awareness for ‘Airbnb Adventures’.
- Nearly 8M impressions on YouTube and over 40 million views across various platforms.
- 50% increase in ad recall and a 22% lift in purchase intent.
- The conversion rate was 40 times higher than the overall account average – showing people were interested in visiting the ‘Airbnb Adventures’ website to learn more.
The goal of this case study isn’t to share a fancy campaign by a big brand.
There’s nothing fancy about it.
Any brand can do something like this with a minimal budget.
- Make use of authentic experiences by involving real people and sharing thoughtful narratives to connect with your audience.
- Tell the story of your brand and build interest (don’t just run vague performance ads)
- Use affinity audiences and reach specific people with specific messages
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