Top Digital Advertising Channels for Canadian Budget Airline Brands in 2020-2022
Advertising Channel Scan™
- Brands in the competitive set spent the most on Paid Search ($14.5M), followed by Facebook ($13.7M) and Display ($3.3M). YouTube ($1.9M) saw the lowest ad spend allocations.
- Amongst the competitive set, ad spending in 2021 increased by +99% YoY, followed by a +20% YoY increase in 2022.
- All platforms except Paid Search saw positive YoY growth from 2020 to 2022, with YouTube leading the way with a +662% increase in 2022. Paid Search, however, had a +39% rise in 2021 but experienced a -42% decrease in 2022.
- All brands, except WestJet, experienced positive YoY growth in ad spending in 2021 and 2022. WestJet had a +87% increase in 2021 and a -6% decrease in 2022. Lynx saw the most significant growth, starting with $0 in 2020 and reaching $251K in 2022. WestJet had the largest budget amongst the competitive set at $26M.
- Emphasizing Value: Across all brands and platforms, a trend emerged among ad creatives that emphasized value and affordability, as demonstrated in phrases such as WestJet's "Everyday Low Fare" and Flair's "Fair Fares for All."
- Destination-centric Messaging: Many ads highlighted specific destinations, aimed at increasing awareness of service to those destinations and attracting travellers from those areas or those interested in visiting those destinations.
- Creating Urgency: Ads promoted limited-time offers, required travellers to book by a specific date, or used phrases like "Book early for great deals" to create a sense of urgency.
- Non-Stop Flights: Ads highlighted direct flights as a USP, such as Swoop's ad headline, "Fly non-stop with Swoop."
- Addressing Customer Concerns: Brands acknowledged and addressed customer concerns in their ads, including safety, flexibility, travel anxiety, and baggage claims.
The following companies were included in the competitive set for this analysis:
From 2020 to 2021, the competitive set spent $33.3M on digital advertising, increasing its yearly spend by +99% YoY in 2021 and +20% YoY in 2022.
All brands, except WestJet, experienced growth in their yearly ad spends in 2021 and 2022. WestJet had a +87% increase in 2021, followed by a -6% decrease in 2022. Lynx saw the most significant growth, starting with $0 in 2020 and reaching $251K in 2022.
All platforms except Paid Search saw positive YoY growth from 2020 to 2022, with YouTube leading the way with a +662% increase in 2022. Paid Search, however, had a +39% rise in 2021 but experienced a -42% decrease in 2022.
Between 2020 and 2022, Paid Search received the largest budget allocation at $14.5M, followed by Facebook at $13.7M. Display was allocated $3.3M, while YouTube had the smallest investment at $1.9M among the competitive set.
WestJet spent an average of $723K per month on digital ads from 2020 to 2021. The company’s greatest spends were in Q4 2021 and Q4 2022. Ad spend spiked in March 2021 at $1.8M, with Paid Search making up 99% of it, with WestJet’s ads focusing on safety and COVID-19 procedures.
From 2020 to 2022, WestJet had the largest budget amongst the competitive set at $26M.
51% of their budget went towards Paid Search ($13.4M), followed by Facebook at $10.1M and YouTube at $1.3M.
From 2021 to 2022, WestJet experienced a shift in its budget allocation, redirecting advertising budget from Paid Search (-50%) and Display (-86%) towards Facebook (+66%) and YouTube (+559%).
WestJet divided its $13.4M Paid Search budget equally between Desktop Paid Search (50%) and Mobile Paid Search (50%).
Paid Search Tactics
Westjet spent $13.4M on Paid Search from 2020 to 2022. March 2021 saw the highest ad spend of $1.8M.
Emphasizing the Value:
- Ad descriptions highlight the value of WestJet flights, such as "getting amazing deals” and “Everyday Low Fare”.
Focusing on Safety:
- Both ads mention "Safety Above All" to assure potential customers of WestJet's commitment to safety.
- Ads mention specific destinations to showcase that WestJet services these popular locations.
- WestJet used Paid Search ads to promote its Black Friday Sale, with ad copy emphasizing that they have “3.5 Million Seats on Sale”.
On Facebook, WestJet budgeted $8.2M toward Link Post ads (81%) followed by Video Post ads at $1.3M and Carousel Post ads at $608K.
WestJet spent $10.1M on Facebook ads from 2020 to 2022.
- WestJet's "Born in the '90s" birthday sale ad showcases retro graphics and targets millennials raised in that decade. The campaign aims to stir nostalgia and attract travellers to take advantage of the sale.
- This ad promotes WestJet’s flights to Heathrow and Gatwick in London, utilizing destination-focused messaging to attract travellers seeking to visit the city or to raise awareness of their flight offerings to London.
Spend: $123K | Imp.: 25M | CPM: $4.85
Spend: $97K | Imp.: 22M | CPM: $4.42
Porter experienced a +149% increase in ad spend in 2021, followed by a +95% increase in 2022. In 2022, ad spend spiked in December 2022 at $573K promoting their “elevated economy air travel“ campaign.
From 2020 - 2022, Porter spent $3.5M in digital advertising.
Top digital advertising spends are focused on Facebook ($1.7M), followed by Display ($1.4M) and Paid Search ($321.6K).
From 2021 to 2022, Porter experienced a -24% decrease in its Paid Search spend, while significantly increasing its spend on Facebook (+89%), YouTube* and Display (+139%).
On Facebook, Porter budgeted $1.6M toward Link Post ads (91%) followed by Video Post ads at $138K (8%).
Porter spent $1.7M on Facebook from 2020 - 2022.
- In both ads, the sun is depicted through illustrations. Additionally, this ad incorporates the phrase "warm welcome onboard." The purpose of this creative strategy is to evoke a warm and inviting brand image.
- Porter's Spring Sale ad creates a feeling of urgency by requiring travellers to book by a particular date, encouraging them to take advantage of the limited offer.
Spend: $97K | Imp.: 23M | CPM: $4.25
Spend: $24K | Imp.:5.4M | CPM: $4.41
Porter budgeted $1M toward Image display ads (77%) compared to $334K on Gif display ads.
Porter invested $1.4M in Display ads from 2020-2022, with the highest spend ($431K) in December 2022. During this month, Porter advertised its elevated economy travel, flying from Pearson to Vancouver, Montréal, and Ottawa.
- In the ads shown, Porter builds anticipation and curiosity for their launch by using the headline "Big changes for you" accompanied by a CTA to "Get the news".
- Porter consistently placed its logo in the top right corner of each display ad, promoting a consistent brand image and enhancing brand recognition.
Swoop significantly increased their ad spend by +427% in 2022 from $288K to $1.5M. This spike was driven by spend in Q2 and Q4 2022, promoting their SWOOPON promo code campaign and their Charlottetown to Toronto flight.
From 2020 - 2022, Swoop spent $2M on digital advertising. 56% of their budget went towards Facebook ($1.1M), followed by Display at $462.2K.
From 2021 to 2022, Swoop increased its budget across all platforms*, with Paid Search increasing by +702%, Display by +630% and Facebook by +282%.
On Facebook, Swoop budgeted $1M toward Link Post ads (94%) followed by Photo Post ads at $45K.
Swoop spent $1.1M on Facebook from 2020 - 2022.
- This ad promoted Swoop’s “ModiFly” add on, which allows travellers to make a one-time change of date and/or time of their flight for an extra $15.
- Both ads highlight that the flights are non-stop is a selling point, as it emphasizes convenience and efficiency.
- Swoop boosted its newsletter sign-ups through the advertisement on the left by presenting a 15% discount incentive and emphasizing the insider benefits, making travellers feel as though they will receive exclusive information.
Spend: $55K | Imp.: 11M | CPM: $4.77
Spend: $45K | Imp.: 11M | CPM: $4.17
Swoop budgeted $378K (82%) toward Gif ads followed by $83K on Image ads.
Swoop spent $462.2K on Display from 2020 - 2022. Swoop allocated 55% of its Display budget in Q2 2022.
- Swoop promoted its SWOOPON promo code through display ads. Offering a promo code increases conversions and provides measurable results for tracking the campaign's effectiveness.
Focusing on Location:
- From 2020 to 2022, 33% of Swoop’s display ads mentioned “Edmonton”. By mentioning the departure city (Edmonton), the ad targets a specific audience and appeals to those located in or near the city.
Flair experienced a +4159% increase in ad spend in 2021, followed by a +119% increase in 2022. In 2022, ad spend spiked in June at $284K, allocating $184K to its “Fly for Less” campaign on Youtube.
From 2020 - 2022, Flair spent $1.5M in digital advertising. 41% of their budget went towards Facebook ($641.8K), followed by Paid Search at $437.4K and YouTube at $321.6K (21%).
From 2021 to 2022, Flair increased its budget across all platforms, with YouTube increasing +451%, Display by +294%, Paid Search by +209% and Facebook by +282%.
On Facebook, Flair budgeted $552K toward Link Post ads (86%) followed by Video Post ads at $58K.
Flair spent $641.8K on Facebook from 2020-2022.
- This ad captures the viewer's attention and distinguishes itself from other content in the viewer's newsfeed through the use of a shocking and entertaining headline on the ad image, "our planes smell”.
- This ad showcases a 20% discount code in the caption, image, and headline of the ad.
- This ad uses language that speaks directly to the customer, such as "where do you winter?" and "visiting family and friends across the country," to make them feel valued and heard.
Spend: $26K | Imp.: 6.2M | CPM: $4.16
Spend: $18K | Imp.: 4M | CPM: $4.44
Flair budgeted $240.2K toward Mobile Paid Search (55%) compared to $197.2K on Desktop Paid Search.
Paid Search Tactics
Flair spent $437.4K on Paid Search from 2020- 2022. December 2022 saw the highest ad spend of $46.2K.
Addressing Customer Concerns:
- Flair highlights the ability to "Adapt your plans to any situation" and "Change the date, time, and destination" with their travelFlex option. Additionally, Flair acknowledges common travel anxiety around baggage claims by offering the option to "Reserve carry-on space in the overhead bin."
- Flair emphasizes their budget-friendly prices through phrases such as "Low Fares for Canada & USA," "Fair fares for all," and "Cheap Flights" in their ad copy.
Lynx did not start advertising until the end of 2021. In 2022, Lynx allocated $215.2K to digital ads, with a significant increase in December 2022, reaching $101.5K, for their holiday ad campaign promotion.
From 2020 to 2022, Lynx spent $218.6K in digital advertising. The company spent 39% of its budget on YouTube ($86.1K), followed by Facebook and Paid Search at $64.3K and $43.2K, respectively.
Lynx did not start advertising until the end of 2021, allocating $3.4K to Facebook ads in 2021. In 2022, Lynx allocated the most to YouTube ($86K) followed by Facebook ($61K) and Paid Search ($43K).
On YouTube, Lynx budgeted $84.5K toward ads 15 seconds in length (98%) and $1.6K towards 6 second ads.
Lynx spent $86.1K on YouTube from 2020-2022.
- Lynx allocated $63K on YouTube for its holiday campaign, which ran from November 19th to December 19th, 2022. The two top videos featured a child's wishlist to Santa asking to visit grandma and grandpa for Christmas and another video with animated Santa hats filling up the screen paired with text saying, "Seats are filling up fast."
- In both videos, Lynx uses a strong CTA such as "Grant their wish book now" and "Book early for great deals." These CTAs use a large green button to help grab the viewer's' attention.
Spend: $37K | Imp.: 2.8M | CPM: $13.22
Spend: $25K | Imp.: 1.9M | CPM: $13.21
On Facebook, Lynx budgeted $51K toward Link Post ads (79%) followed by Video Post ads at $13K.
Lynx spent $64.3K on Facebook from 2020-2022.
Responding to Comments:
- In this ad, Lynx responded to negative comments and mitigated the conversation to be taken off social. By responding to the negative comments, Lynx demonstrates that it values its customers and is committed to providing excellent customer service.
- Lynx highlights affordability with "Ultra-affordable" in both ad headlines to target cost-conscious travellers."
- Lynx creates a sense of urgency by encouraging travellers to book early to save.
Spend: $5.4K | Imp.: 1.3M | CPM: $4.13
Spend: $2K | Imp.: 483K | CPM: $4.14
*Ad spend includes Facebook, Display, Search, & YouTube.
*Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.
*Digital Ad Spend in Canada (USD)
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