Microsoft signs major deal with Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook has joined forces with Microsoft Advertising to unveil a major campaign and introduce cutting edge online search tools.

 

The first phase of the campaign, which runs until March and is understood to be the single biggest travel deal in the UK signed with Microsoft, sees Thomas Cook take over the MSN Travel home page on strategic days during the peak selling period.

 

The partnership also sees MSN launch a virtual agent tool to provide consumers with inspiration and help them find their ideal holiday.

 

Through a series of eight steps consumers will drag different images into a box and hone down their search before being linked to the relevant page on thomascook.com.

 

Through the virtual agent, Thomas Cook holidays will be visible on both the MSN travel pages and life and style pages.

 

Thomas Cook UK & Ireland e-commerce director Russell Gould said he would also like to see the virtual agent tool built on the operator’s own site in time.

 

The campaign also involves paid search activity and behavioural targeting whereby consumers who have already been on a travel site will be presented with relevant display ads.

 

Gould said: “It’s about keeping a warm lead warm and reminding them of special deals. It’s a much more targeted approach rather than shotgun.”

 

He declined to confirm how much the campaign is worth although it is believed to be a six-figure sum.

 

“All the activity we undertake from an online perspective we operate to a distribution cost. We spend to achieve a return on investment that is acceptable and the arrangement here is very acceptable.”

 

Caroline Mastoras, Microsoft Advertising’s travel category development manager said: “We have built a travel hub across our travel channel as well as life and style which offers Thomas Cook the opportunity to showcase different holidays.”

 

She said that traffic would be driven to the hub using the Microsoft advertising platform and the new Microsoft Media Network.

 

Gould added that the focus for the campaign is thomascook.com, which now functions as a full-service travel agency because of the recent launch of its e-commerce platform, Starfish.

 

Cooks is also taking running homepage takeovers promoting several of its brands across a number of other ISPs this weekend as consumers see their first pay-cheque of the month.

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