Today’s booming travel industry has created a crowded, competitive market across the air and hotel categories in APAC. To soar ahead of the competition, HK Express, Hong Kong’s first low-fare airline, invested more than half of its marketing budget in an ambitious digital promotion that leveraged YouTube’s TrueView. The result was a successful campaign that far exceeded the brand’s initial goals and expectations.
- Boost brand awareness
- Drive 70% increase in ticket sales
- Used YouTube TrueView with dynamic ads made for the platform
- Ran one-day masthead on YouTube
- Used in-market and affinity targeting
- Ran Brand Lift study for mid-campaign optimization
- Drove 145% increase in sales
- Masthead drove 10M impressions
- TrueView campaign earned 1.3M views and 2.9M organic impressions
HK Express is Hong Kong’s first and only low-cost carrier, offering flights to top cities in the region. The airline launched just three years ago and is still relatively new to APAC’s booming, competitive travel industry. As a newcomer in travel hub Hong Kong, HK Express was in search for a way to increase awareness and differentiate itself from the competition.
The airline turned to YouTube to promote its third anniversary celebration and promotion with one ambitious goal: drive a 70% increase in ticket sales during the campaign.
Embarking on a maiden voyage with YouTube’s TrueView
HK Express had traditionally relied on other channels to reach customers, but it decided to change direction and shift its marketing focus to video and YouTube. The thinking was that putting more than half of its marketing budget into YouTube would allow it to get in front of as many new potential customers as possible in a short period of time.
YouTube’s TrueView served as the main hub of the campaign, and made-for-digital video creative ran in five key Asian markets. The brand also used a one-day YouTube masthead to drive awareness and lead users to the HK Express website. This new digitally focused approach allowed the brand to reach millions of consumers quickly and efficiently.
Targeting savvy travelers across Asia
Overall awareness was important, but HK Express particularly wanted to make sure in-market audiences were engaged on YouTube. To do this, the airline leveraged custom affinity audiences for YouTube viewers in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Macau. “As a low-fare airline, we are always seeking new and innovative ways to increase the cost efficiency and reach of our ad spend. Our robust audience pools allow us to drive the most qualified consumers—and, in most cases, those who have the highest propensity to travel—to our website,” said Michael Lim, marketing manager at HK Express.
HK Express also used dynamic creative to serve tailored, compelling messages to specific affinity audiences, including “family vacationers,” “travel buffs,” “thrill seekers,” “outdoor enthusiasts,” and “shutterbugs.”
The airline also ran a Brand Lift survey to measure and improve campaign effectiveness. Knowing what ads were driving such key performance indicators as ad recall and purchase consideration helped it adjust and optimize the campaign on the fly. “Because our promotional campaigns are very short, one of the biggest benefits of YouTube is the ability to make real-time changes. That level of control is ideally suited to our business objectives,” said Lim.
Dynamic creative helps HK Express fly high
The YouTube campaign exceeded expectations and drove a 145% increase in ticket sales in the allotted campaign period—2X more than the initial sales goal. Most surprising was that not only did overall sales increase by 145% during the campaign, but the brand stayed top-of-mind for consumers even after the campaign ended. HK Express saw a 98% increase in the number of ticket sales for an additional four weeks after the campaign period.
The one-day masthead drove around 10M impressions—and the targeted TrueView campaign earned 2.9 organic impressions for the brand with 1.3M views and a 26% view-through rate (VTR).
The brand supported these strong results with additional TrueView and always-on search campaigns in the weeks that followed, not only reaching customers at scale but also staying relevant after the campaign ended. By combining an enticing offer, the scale and reach of YouTube, and custom audience targeting, HK Express was able to fly high in clear skies—and drive campaign results above and beyond its sales goals.