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Pathmatics Blog

Brand of the Week: Alaska Airlines

January 05 2018 by Jordan Kramer
Do you ever find yourself browsing Facebook, only to be targeted by a creative for an airline deal? You aren’t alone. Airlines have increasingly become more interested in targeting on social, shifting dollars away from display, mobile, and video advertising to focus their digital budget on Facebook. Some of the largest airline companies are spending over half of their digital dollars on social, indicating a shift in how travel brands are trying to target consumers in an increasingly competitive space.
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Alaska Airlines is one of those brands, allocating nearly three quarters of their digital advertising budget in 2017 to social alone. Between the competition from online booking companies such as Priceline, in addition to head-to-head competitors, and an increase in consumer spend on travel, brands are fighting for not only dollars, but online audiences. Here’s a look at Alaska Airlines' strategy over the last thirty days leading into the holiday season, and how their YTD advertising compares to other airlines in the travel sector.

Social Trending Up

Year-to-date, Alaska Airlines ranks as the 154th top travel advertiser by spend across display, mobile, and video (both desktop and mobile). But, when looking at social spend on Facebook mobile, the brand is in the 15th top spot. As consumers are spending more time on social networks, the airline company has clearly found ROI with their social spend and has been steadily increasing their presence on Facebook over the course of this year. Over the last thirty days, social alone accounted for 81% of the travel brand’s total digital spend.
During 2017, Alaska Airlines has released over 1,600 unique social creatives targeting California as the top geo, and more specifically, Los Angeles as the top metro. Social spend peaked for the airline peaked in September and November, spiking to three times what was being spent on social in January. While display is still a component of Alaska Airline’s digital strategy, besides a spike in July the brand has kept their display campaigns to a minimum. 

That's How We Fly

The top social creative for Alaska Airlines over the last thirty days was a link post that appears to be targeted towards the millennial demographic. A younger female is lounging on a unicorn float, sipping a tropical cocktail with messaging encouraging you to “Live the fly life.” Nearly one hundred of Alaska Airlines’ social creatives in 2017 used the text: “That’s How We Fly” making the tagline one of their top messaging combinations.
“Buy one ticket, get one for just the tax and fees” was another one of the brand’s top messages carried throughout social creatives. Alaska Airlines’ top social and digital creative for the year used this copy to promote their “famous companion fare offer.” So famous in fact, the brand trademarked it.

Now Boarding: Increased Competition

How does Alaska Airlines’ strategy measure up to other airline companies? During 2017, only three other competing brands spent more on social including Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. 
Interestingly enough, Delta, the leader overall for airlines in digital ad spend, concentrated the majority of their yearly budget on desktop video in 2017, putting relatively little focus on social. While JetBlue has devoted a third of their budget to social, the majority of their advertising campaigns still run on display. 
Currently, Southwest and United are the top airlines to beat when it comes to cross-device strategy. They both are in the top 20 for ad spend in the travel category across display, mobile, and video, and in the top ten on social. 

See Alaska Airlines' Full Digital Advertising Strategy [Free Report] 

While Alaska Airlines is not one of the top overall spenders for the travel category in the digital advertising space, they are becoming quite a contender on social. Based on historical trends, we can expect the airline to keep shifting digital spend to Facebook and increasing their budget in 2018.

To learn more about our panel-based, social advertising intelligence solution, contact our team here and download the full brand report detailing Alaska Airlines' digital strategy below.

Download Alaska Airlines' Digital Ad Strategy

About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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