National Geographic Encounter
To drive more site traffic, we successfully experimented with Google’s automated bid strategy.
National Geographic Encounter – an immersive attraction in the middle of Times Square that simulates an underwater experience – was seeing a decline in performance in select display campaigns. Local parents are one of the primary target audiences as this is a great family experience, and to date, we had successfully used Google’s custom affinities to build parent audiences whose behavior indicated they would be more inclined to purchase tickets to this attraction.
Additionally, over time, we had shifted more budget to display campaigns in general given the strong performance we had seen, as the National Geographic brand name on its own carried a lot of weight with our audiences.
There were two particular custom affinities that saw above benchmark results with regards to returns on investment and cost per page visit in display campaigns in Q4’17 and Q1’18. Cost per page visit is a metric we created at our agency to evaluate the efficiency of our campaigns combining both post-click and post-view activities. The first one, ‘Cultured Parent Affinity’ was comprised of keywords related to different cultural activities such as museums and performing arts geared toward children in New York City. The second was called ‘Things to Do with Kids Affinity’ which was comprised of phrases related to the ‘things to do’ topic and specific publications that recommend children’s activities.
In general, website traffic was declining, which made sense as we were entering the period after school spring breaks yet before summer planning was on parents’ minds. Therefore, since we know National Geographic Encounter is a relatively new experience in the area, we needed to get more users to our website to learn more in order to move them further down the purchase funnel and ultimately buy tickets.
To drive more site traffic, we decided to experiment with Google’s automated bid strategy for these Google Display Network campaigns, specifically to optimize toward clicks. We set a max CPC of $2 for each campaign as the CPCs to date hovered around that cost.
This bid strategy went into effect on May 18, 2018, so we decided to compare the first two weeks of the campaign running with the automated bid strategy to the prior two weeks when we were bidding on viewable CPM.
We were not only extremely pleased with how efficiently we were driving site traffic to the website, but we also saw an improvement in the quality of site visitors directly driven by these campaigns. Users were now spending 30 seconds on average on our website as opposed to 14 seconds before we implemented the automated bid strategy. It’s worth noting that even with all these additional clicks, we did not affect bounce rate.
Overall, we were very pleased with the results and have extended this automated bid strategy to some other campaigns for this client so we can continue to grow site traffic in the lead up to summer.