Tourism Australia pushes ahead on data-led strategy in a cookieless world

While international borders have been shut for over a year and look set to remain shut for the foreseeable future, Tourism Australia is continuing to work behind the scenes on how to increase tourism once borders open.

Tourism Australia, GM of digital and transformation, Paul Bailey, said the national body had been working with its agency, UM, and partners to better understand its target travellers and to create “the path of least resistance”.

Paul Bailey

The tourism body started work nearly two years ago to to build out a unified ID, before being interrupted by bushfires and COVID.

“We work with our strategy team and UM to define our high yield traveller. It is key we understand who we want and need as a country,” Bailey said. “And then find the channels we can influence them.

“We work with online partners and onshore partners to drive audiences to them, because we know that the consumer travel purchase flow is not a linear flow.”

Since October last year, the team have refocused on a cookieless world, and what that means for the funnel of customers to Tourism Australia.

“I don’t think any brand right now can say we’ve solved it for a cookieless world.

“But, we are learning that we can stitch data together and get insight from that data which is hugely valuable,” Bailey said.

The organisation is now live with a proof of concept involving the Northern Territory, TA’s data warehouse and a data provider, Eyeota, as well as its own channels.

“What we have not done yet, is turn it into actionable data,” Bailey explained. “We have not thought past insight, and the reason for that is we are looking at the changes, Google, Facebook, Apple, GDPR, California State.”

What they are using that data to do is adapt content and creative in response to that data. “If we know that the people coming to our site, and that they are all coming for Queensland, we might then change the creative to focus on Queensland.”

During COVID the organisation ran a series of videos in Japan which resulted in significant increases on the brand’s local website, while everywhere else around the world was haemorrhaging visitors.

He said it showed the brand how strong, rich, engaged creative and an outlet for people to see and engage more could work well for the brand, and it is now looking to do the same in the UK and US.

Looking ahead, after pushing out five “very specific” campaigns already this year, including the  $3 million New Zealand travel bubble campaign, Bailey said he is looking forward to getting back to working on campaigns that “elevate the industry back to being inspired again – instead of being tactical”.


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