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KAYAK
tourism services
Number of employees:
220
Using Direct:
since 2012

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KAYAK
tourism services
Number of employees:
220
Using Direct:
since 2012
KAYAK is an international service that searches and compares prices for flights, hotels and rental cars from different companies. KAYAK’s Managing Director in Russia and CIS Andrey Verbitsky explains why Yandex.Direct became their main tool for promoting on the Russian market right from the start.
— How did KAYAK start and how has it changed since then?

— The team that launched the service already had experience in creating successful online projects in the tourism sector. Ticket sales were actively developing on the Internet in the early 2000s in the USA. Both agencies and the airlines themselves were involved. As the number of offers grew faster, it became harder to compare them. As a result, the idea to create a resource which gathered together information on all offers into one place emerged.

It was important to get away from any association with ticket sales, so they came up with a name for the service that wasn’t directly connected with traveling or flying. The name had to be easy to remember and no bigger than six characters long. The word “kayak” was picked out of several thousand variants.

Today, KAYAK is one of the world’s largest services for searching travel offers. Each month we process more than 150 million searches, helping travelers quickly plan the best trip to anywhere in the world.

— Why are package tours now giving way to independent travel?
— People want to get away from standard package tours and at the same time don’t want to overpay for additional services. An online service saves a lot of time as booking or buying tickets takes just a couple of minutes. It’s possible to put more thought into planning out a trip, such as comparing alternative routes, reading reviews and finding the best deals. Independent tourism is developing around the world, and in recent years it’s become very interesting in Russia too.
— So KAYAK decided to enter the Russian market?
— Yes, Russia has one of the most promising markets with great growth dynamics. According to our estimates, the year’s total share of the tourist segment on the Russian Internet increased one and a half times.
— How did you begin attracting the first Russian users?
— First of all we localized the product correctly, using the power of the head office in the USA. Russia is one of the few countries where international services are noticeably less popular than the local ones. A different approach to promotion is required. Therefore the second important step is choosing the right marketing strategy. Our main channel of attracting customers has always been search engines. So, we focused on the advertising technologies of Yandex – particularly on contextual advertising in Yandex.Direct.
Now we have 9 million keywords and nearly a thousand ad campaigns
Promotion of the service is handled by the actual staff in other countries. Why in Russia did KAYAK decide to work with an advertising agency?
— Yandex.Direct was a new tool for us, so we decided to involve a local partner with the necessary knowledge – Artics Internet Solutions. We didn’t simply shift all the work to an outside agency, but integrated the agency into our processes. We managed to build trust, so that information about the growth and profitability of the business is always open to the agency.
— How have you arranged ad placement in Yandex.Direct?
— In the tourism business we work with a huge database of keyword phrases, and it took us six weeks alone to prepare for the launch of the ad campaign. We immediately decided to place ads for queries about all hotels and destinations, sorting them by country, grade, price range and popularity among users. Now we have 9 million keywords and nearly a thousand ad campaigns that we set up taking into account the seasonality of demand.
— What technologies or features of Yandex.Direct turned out to be particularly useful to your business?

— Templates for instance are very helpful in creating a number of similar ads. They can be easily configured to create similar advertising campaigns for different sites and regions.

Using the keyword selection tool, we can follow the change in frequency of queries in different seasons, which is important in the tourism business. In addition we use the Direct Commander application. It’s great for working with a large volume of advertising campaigns.

— What results have been achieved with the help of contextual advertising?
— Thanks to Yandex.Direct, from the very beginning we took the pace that was appropriate to our business plan. We properly configured ad placement, gradually got closer to getting a return on our advertising investment target and increased our Yandex.Direct budget. As a result, over the last year our business in Russia has grown by an average of 20-30% a month, and this is the most important result.
— If Yandex.Direct was a physical object or thing, what would you compare it to?
— I’d compare it to a spacecraft which has lots of different levers and switches on the dashboard. If you carefully follow all the instruments, it will lead any pilot to their desired goal.
— What advice do you have for companies planning to enter the Russian market?
— Yandex.Direct became our biggest channel for attracting a target audience. If you are an international player and want to successfully enter the Russian market, it’s essential to work with Yandex.Direct. The usual advertising tools seen in the West will not be sufficient here.
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