Carsen is a digital marketer by day and a digital DJ by night. He has a great love for travel and adventure, connecting with new people, and spinning out only the funkiest of beats. No matter if he's marketing or DJing, Carsen has a talent for making people smile.

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Vovia Named Finalist for 2019 Google Premier Partner Award

Becoming a Google Premier Partner is no joke. It takes hard work and dedication to innovation to get this prestigious accreditation. So, what does it mean to be a Google Premier Partner? It means our agency is in the top 1% globally, earned on the back of high performance and volume of spend that we achieve through Google campaigns, products and executions. It also means we have a dedicated team from Google that supports us in finding opportunities for maximizing the performance of our campaigns and providing us with early access to beta programs and new ad formats before they are released to the general public. Place these tools and resources in the hands of our seasoned SEM specialists, and we have a winning combination.

Google Premier Partner Awards 2019 - Finalist

The Top 1% Gather in New York City

Each year Google celebrates its top partners with the Google Premier Partner Awards; bringing together the best of the best from all over the world to celebrate amazing work being done in the industry. All Premier Partners are invited to submit case studies under a variety of categories including: Search Excellence, Display Excellence, Shopping Excellence, Video Excellence, App Excellence, and Online Business Growth.

Applying and being accepted as a candidate for an award is a rigorous process, but provides an excellent opportunity to share the great work we are doing with industry peers and, of course, the chance to be recognized among the top 1% of the top 1% at the Premier Partner Awards.

For the second year in a row, Vovia was honoured to be an award finalist. This year, in the category of Search Excellence.

Today, I would like to tell you the story about how we landed in NYC for the work we did with the burgeoning ultra-low-cost airline, Swoop.

Learning to Fly

Swoop entered the Canadian market in the summer of 2018, and our good friend (and ex-Vovian) Mike Gaudet brought us in to help their SEM program take flight. Below is a summary of the work we did with Swoop to land as an awards finalist, so please fasten your seatbelt and put your table trays to the upright position.

The Challenge: The airline industry is incredibly competitive, with many carriers continuously adjusting prices and promotions, frequent changes of creative in response to competitive activity, a complex regulatory environment, and competition from not just other airlines but also travel aggregators.

Not only was the competitive landscape challenging, but as a new entrant to the market, Swoop had low brand awareness and as an Ultra Low-Cost Carrier, they were working with extremely thin margins as well. This meant that the customer acquisition strategy had to be focused on the most efficient means to maximize revenue.

The Strategy: Given that our primary mandate was to grow revenue, we focused mainly on Paid Search and Remarketing through Google Ads. To improve awareness, we also ran Display Ads (Google) and YouTube campaigns in select markets and used social channels to increase reach.

As an Ultra Low-Cost Carrier, pricing was Swoops’ key competitive advantage, so we knew that it was essential to get pricing into their ads and leveraged an Ad Feed and three separate Ad Customizers to do so. To optimize performance, we also introduced 3 different types of pricing ads – Everyday Price, Sale Price, and Short-term Same Day Sales (available for 4 hours only). We also looked at sales data to understand the maximum distance from airports that travellers would be willing to drive for a great deal on a flight and established separate geographic areas for each market. Working with our client, we also recommended the implementation of full e-commerce tracking, which allowed us to move from a CPA (cost-per-acquisition) model to ROAS (return on ad spend), in order to better capture differences in ticket prices and average order value.

The Results: The Google Search results were excellent and have seen significant growth, with the most significant realized once we moved to the ROAS model:

  • In our most recent week, an ROAS of 79.2 was achieved, easily exceeding the client’s target of 13. ROAS improved 70.5% over just the first 7 weeks of optimizing to ROAS.
  • Ticket booking volumes grew continuously, achieving 59% more bookings in the most recent 3-month period, compared with previous levels.

Needless to say, Swoop was thrilled with the results. Here’s what Mike had to say on the campaign’s success:

“Vovia used creative solutions in Search to surpass our ROAS target by 500+% and drive profitability in the competitive aviation industry “

Michael Gaudet, Senior Leader, Marketing, Digital, Communications & Product

One Day at Google NYC

Carsen and Renu at Google's NYC Office
Carsen and Renu at Google’s NYC Office

So now that you know how we got there, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the experiences we had in NYC with Google and our fellow Premier Partners. After a delicious morning meeting and breakfast with our Google team leads Todd Holden and Mellissa Grusche, we were invited to swing by the Google NYC offices for some learning. The office was everything you would expect it to be! Very cool atmosphere, neat art installations, and yummy snacks all day. Google also treated us to an amazing keynote from Alex Langshur from Cardinal Path, which taught us how to get to ‘flow’; a deep state of thought and focus, leading to high productivity. This was super inspiring, and I’d encourage you to check out more of his material here!

Following the keynote (and some more yummy snacks), we got to partake in a round table discussion with the Google engineer who created the Adwords editor (he made sure to tell us this several times). It was fantastic having a direct line to ask technical questions about cutting edge Google ad products and to learn a little bit more about where things are going in the space. Spoiler: machine learning and automation will continue to be a thing.

Premier Partner Gala at Gotham Hill

Carsen and Renu at the 2019 Google Premier Partner Gala

Feeling enriched from our day at Google, we then moved on to the black-tie event at the magnificent Gotham Hall. Here we got to enjoy a great meal and bump shoulders with the top 1% of the top 1%. It was both humbling and validating speaking with folks about the campaigns that brought them to the finals alongside Vovia and was so interesting speaking to agencies and likeminded people from all over North and South America. While everyone knows that Google is worldwide, this event truly made me feel like we were part of a high-octane global community. There is tons of cool technology and techniques being used in the space, and some very impressive case studies as a result.

The Awards

Table full of 2019 Google Premier Partner Awards
The 2019 Awards

Sadly, we did not take home the win this year; however, we did take home some serious intelligence and ideas to apply and test in our own practice. The winner in our category, Search Excellence, was Hanapin marketing (USA) for their work with Icelandair and Visit Denmark. Interesting approach to see two brands featured in their case study with the result being an overall lift in the vertical. No hard feelings and no love lost. I am certain we were very close, and it must have been a difficult decision for the judges.
Now back in Calgary with a full heart and inspired mind, we look forward to doing it all over again in 2020.