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HotelTonight advertises on Instagram, shows new side of branding

Last-minute hospitality booking application HotelTonight is the latest brand to run ads on Instagram as it launches its first national campaign juxtaposing mundane everyday situations with the potential of where one can go when booking spontaneously.

Ads on Instagram are designed to support brands focused on reaching large audiences with memorable, high quality content. This aligns with the way consumers and brands are already using the platform: to share photo and video content that capture a moment, inspire others, or shift perceptions. But instead of showcasing its offerings through vivid imagery, HotelTonight highlights people doing ordinary things instead of depicting them in a dream destination setting. 

?We?ve done very well at being ?the first? to test new platforms. Early responses and results from customers so far has been really positive with this campaign,? said Mr. Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight.

?They understand it and appreciate that we aren?t just throwing an ad out there; its thoughtful with a creative directive and artistic with photographs that are worthy of being hung on your wall.?

?This differentiate us form rest of the crowd. We think Instagram is iterating its ads as entertainment and content in a way that will also measure well for other advertisers,? he said.

Demonstrating possibility
The ?Tonight I Am? initiative features portrait photography that demonstrates the possibilities of instantly transforming an individual?s day and situation into something extraordinary.

HotelTonight claims to be the first start-up to run paid promotions within the app. Until now, most of Instagram?s marketers were big brands and retailers such as Banana Republic, Ben & Jerry?s, McDonald?s and Taco Bell.

The app?s focus on branding signifies a Renaissance movement in its approach to advertising, which in the past was geared towards performance-driven app install ads targeted towards specific demographics or social platforms such as Facebook and Foursquare.

Its current business model pushes the ease and time-centric booking process through messages that seek to convey that reserving a room only requires ?three taps and a swipe.?

"That?s a hard message to tell in one photo that?s also creative, evocative and memorable," Mr. Shank said.

Following the winners
Metrics such as reach, ad recall and awareness are the biggest indicators that reflect the value and effectiveness of brand campaigns. And although Instagram is a social hub, comments, likes and followers do not directly translate to value proposition.

When investigating the successfulness of recent Instagram ad campaigns, Levi?s reached 7.4 million people in the U.S. across a nine-day period, targeting people aged 18-35, and Ben & Jerry?s reached 9.8 million people in the U.S. over eight days, targeting people aged 18-35.

The marketers achieved a high impact with a very low average frequency of ad impressions per user. Across the two campaigns, there was a 15-point incremental lift in ad recall per campaign for people who were repeatedly exposed to a particular campaign versus control groups according to Instagram.

There was also a five-point incremental lift in brand message awareness per campaign for people who were repeatedly exposed to a particular campaign versus control groups. In particular, 17 percent of people who saw a single ad for Ben & Jerry?s Scotchy Scotch Scotch-flavored ice cream not only became aware of the new flavor, they also associated it with the brand.

While these initial results are promising for HotelTonight, early campaigns may benefit from an overall increase in awareness of ads on Instagram due to their recent introduction.

?We wanted to reach customers and tell them a story of why they should use us,? Mr. Shank said.

?Whether it be through more traditional channels or segmenting different customers and inspiring a new set of customers through Instagram.?

 Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York