“The Results of Automation are Immediate”, Logitravel CMO, Sergio Martínez de Cestafe
As one of the largest and fastest growing Online Travel Agencies in the world, Logitravel is a clear success story of the digital age. We talked with CMO, Sergio Martínez de Cestafe, to discuss the role ad automation technology played in their continued growth.
How to scale a business with ad automation technology? Just ask Logitravel
Spaceboost: Many companies are reticent when it comes to the change that the use of technology in online advertising. How did Logitravel come to the conclusion it was necessary to automate the generation and optimization of your ad campaigns?
Sergio Martinez de Cestafe: As we grew, we started to see that it was quickly becoming impossible to create, modify, and optimize our campaigns. You have to realize that at Logitravel we combine all the possible flights we can offer together with all the possible hotels, always keeping in mind the individual’s departure date, return date, and other variations like a client booking more than one hotel for each day of his or her trip. Therefore, the volume of holiday-based promotional material we were managing was impossible for a team to manually manage all our campaigns.
SB: To what degree would you say that the automation of your online advertising has been responsible for the growth and continued expansion of Logitravel?
SMC: Ad automation has been an extremely important part of our strategy – it is what has allowed us to scale the business according to our own needs. Of course, automation technology today is not confined to online ad campaigns, but also for other actions like web content, email, notifications…
SB: How did you start to automate your ad processes? Were your products and structures already structured to facilitate the integration of technology?
SMC: We were lucky enough to have been in an ideal situation to automate. We have always been a technological company and so a lot of our business data was already organized within a well-defined structure. For that reason, when we started to automate our out-going media, all we needed to do was create a “translator” of our internal format to the external channel which we wanted to automate. In this way, as well as being simple, we could be sure that what we were seeing internally would always appear the same way externally.
SB: Did you see immediate results?
SMC: The results you get from automated campaigns are immediate. Perhaps not in the amounts of conversions we saw (bookings) as in the travel sector the average decision making time is relatively high, but what we saw straight away was the jump in other metrics like bounce rate, the amount of pages visited by each acquired user, etc.
SB: What element of PPC automation technology has brought you the most value?
SMC: Technology has brought us an irreplaceable value in basically all the aspects of our company. It is responsible for the creation of the ads which we show as well as how they are optimized to ensure they are correct for the different audience segments we are targeting, the personalisation of the creativities we show to each user according to their interests, and the adjustments we make for device, time of day, and location.
SB: One of the most persistent fears about the current technological model of advertising is the substitution of jobs with automation tools. How has the way your PPC team works changed since you switched your strategy to incorporate automation tech?
SMC: Thanks to the automation we’ve taken on at Logitravel, what we have achieved above all is that our team doesn’t have to spend their time carrying out repetitive tasks. Instead they’re more focussed on strategy. In terms of results that has had two consequences. One is that the day-to-day lives of our team members is more interesting on an individual level. The other is that, naturally, we’re simply more efficient as a company, which has allowed us to expand at a faster rate. So we’ve actually increased our marketing team since taking on automation tech.
SB: Do you think there is any aspect of online advertising which can’t be automated or more effectively managed with Machine Learning or AI?
SMC: Although I am a defender of artificial intelligence, machine learning and more generally the use of all the tools which are becoming increasingly perfected additions to business today, I also believe that human beings on a behavioural level are defined by the fact that they are curious and unique. For that reason I don’t think that any machine (for now) is able to comprehensively automate everything that a person can see and/or hear; I think we need to leave at least part of the process of automation up to randomness.
SB: How do you see the future for Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)? It’s a sector that has most comprehensively changed with the rise of Search. Is customer loyalty a thing of the past?
SMC: From my point of view, it’s essential to understand the differential argument of each brand for their clients. In our case we centre our business in two pillars: product and service. When it comes to the product, our focus is on everything to do with holiday – the experience we have gathered over the years means we can be sure to provide a quality that is difficult for our competitors to replicate. And in terms of service we believe that in such a competitive sector, assessing the client and solving whatever problem they might have is an area in which a travel agency can really distinguish itself. Therefore, I would say that the loyalty of our customers is fundamental; it represents how successful we are in dealing with our two strategical differentiating pillars.