Gianluca Armando, Director of Sales, Expedia Group Media Solutions APAC
In today’s digital era, firms across the globe are relying on online platforms to attract, retain, and engage with customers. But how do organizations display their brand, products, or services to consumers to improve their business? Digital marketing emerges as a definite answer. However, a brand’s success and its digital marketing strategies are highly dependent on how they utilize advancements in technologies. In an interview with CIO Advisor APAC magazine, Gianluca Armando, a director at Expedia Group Media Solutions, APAC region, shares his insights on how technology and digital marketing go hand-in-hand in every industry, especially the travel sector.
In your opinion, how has the digital marketing landscape evolved over the years? What are the myriad advantages of virtualization for businesses today?
The digital marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years as advances in technology, targeting, and personalization have improved brands’ abilities to reach out to customers and connect with them. The most significant shift relates to marketers being able to use consumer targetting and engagement data to develop their marketing strategies, helping them measure, track, and adapt advertising campaigns more dynamically than ever before.
I would also like to point out that online marketing can help brands gain meaningful insights from their consumers to create successful strategies. Another beauty of digital marketing is that it is 100% measurable and adaptable, unlike many offline marketing techniques.
Expedia Group, for example, has a global audience of more than 144 million unique visitors across its brand portfolio, who are searching for travel deals across flights, accommodations, car hire and other transportation, adventure activities, and more. Such actions result in the generation of billions of data points that our digital media experts can tap into to help our marketing partners target the right consumer, at the right time, with the right message to drive marketing results. Thereafter, we help them analyze insights and learnings for future campaign strategies.
What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing digital marketing today and how can they be effectively mitigated?
There are a couple of significant challenges that stand out, the first of which is understanding the customer.
Technology offers brands and marketers the opportunity to break through the noise and reach consumers by stimulating their senses beyond the purely visual
We are aware that not all brands have access to the same level of data, which could assist marketers in making smart decisions regarding digital marketing, thus partnering with the right firm to retrieve data insights is vital.
Another challenge is to keep pace with cutting-edge technologies. Travelers are looking to gain rich and life-transforming experiences from their trips. As a result, suppliers and tourism organisations need to work harder, as well as smarter, to grab their attention. The opportunity is to really evidence, via creative marketing, that their accommodation, airline or destination can deliver on those expectations. However, it’s not always easy to stay up to date with the technologies and marketing channels that are available in the market. That is where partnering with a real expert can add value.
Which are a few technological trends influencing digital marketing today? What are some of the best practices businesses should adopt to steer ahead of competitors?
Travellers are looking for new ways to discover and explore new destinations, and emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) provide them with the ability to explore such places. We, at Expedia Group, anticipate that AR and VR will become a significant part of the marketing mix in the future, particularly in consumer technology.
Additionally, technology offers brands and marketers the opportunity to break through the noise and reach consumers by stimulating their senses beyond the purely visual. This new wave of technologies will prove crucial for the travel sector, allowing travelers to explore and engage with destinations in meaningful ways before and during the planning and booking phase.
A great example of technology in action is our multi-award-winning campaign with the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). Expedia Group Media Solutions teamed up with HTA to develop a unique digital marketing campaign that leveraged bespoke facial recognition software and drone footage to connect with travelers, especially millennials.
Another example is a recent campaign we ran with Brand USA, which helped bring the cities of the US to life through immersive 3D audio experiences. Visitors simply needed to connect headphones to their computer and select an audio clip relating to a US destination. While the clip played, an on-screen animation dissolved into a first-person point of view photo, allowing them to visualize them self in the experience they were hearing.
Do you have any suggestions for industry veterans or budding entrepreneurs from the digital marketing space?
The first is to become a true partner. Marketing is a collaborative art, and it works best when partners are aligned over their objectives and open to working together with trust and reliability. We always treat our partners like extensions of our team, which means being supportive of their business needs, but also honest when necessary.
I would also stress the importance of being locally relevant, globally; this is a significant focus area for Expedia Group, and it is vital for any business that aspires to work internationally. For digital marketers, this means, understanding why a campaign may be successful in one market, but might not resonate in another, and how to adopt appropriate practices accordingly. In the end, everything comes back to the point around data, because you will only be able to reach customers when you understand them, and smart use of data plays a crucial role here.