Welcome to the Travel Marketeer, a weekly series where we examine data, insights and ideas around marketing, creative testing, and ways travel brands can improve the online customer experience. In this week’s installment we explore why ad creative impacts site conversion rates.


It’s sometimes quite surprising the extent to which ad creative impacts site conversion rates. After all, changing the ad copy doesn’t make the site more or less user-friendly. Ad variations don’t impact the shopping cart flow or the ease of navigation which are things marketers typically think about when optimizing for conversions. So why, then do we so often find that one ad has a significantly higher conversion rate than another? There are two possibilities:


Ad creative attracts and qualifies different types of customers

Let’s say an airline uses two display ad creative options:


  1. Imagery that includes a laptop, a brief case, and glass of champagne on an airplane tray table that presides above ample leg room
  2. Smiling children coloring on airline logo-emblazoned napkins supported by clean tray tables


Clearly, these two ad variations will speak to and attract vastly different types of travelers: business and leisure travelers. The conversion rate of the two ads will be different simply because they are generated by different customer segments. But there is more to this story, which brings us to reason number two:


Ad creative sets and anchors customers’ expectations

Why do ads that attract roughly the same customer segments have different conversion rates? Let’s look at some hypothetical examples for similar ads:


  1. “Search here for the lowest prices on airfare, guaranteed.”
  2. “Up to 60% off airfare from major airlines.”


Presumably both of these ads would attract price-sensitive airline ticket shoppers. But let’s say one of them has a 20% higher conversion rate than the other. Why might this be? It’s because the ad has set the customer’s first impression.


Specifically, the customer’s first impression from an ad can trigger what behavioral economists refer to as “cognitive biases” that nudge customers toward decisions like purchases and bookings.


In particular, diagnosis bias was exhibited in an NBA basketball study. Researchers found that NBA draft order was a strong predictor of play time above and beyond what would be expected based on players’ actual performance throughout their careers. The implication is that coaches’ perception of player abilities is more heavily influenced by first impressions than on the players’ subsequent competence.


Similarly, if you visit a hotel that has really good reviews and your friends recommend it, you assume that you will receive great service. Cognitive biases may lead you to believe you are receiving great service even when there is some evidence to the contrary.


This is an important concept to remember when creating advertisements. The way in which marketers present offerings in ads can create lasting customer perceptions that can be difficult to change later.


If you truly believe that one site over another offers the lowest prices, you might be willing to persevere in making a booking even if the site is slow or difficult to use. But if you arrive at the site distrusting the 60% claims, you might bounce prematurely.


About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale.

The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.