Using automation to support Virgin Australia’s ‘Happy Hour’ sale


Every Thursday at 4pm, Virgin Australia (VA) release a selection of heavily discounted routes to their anxiously waiting consumers. They call this the ‘Happy Hour’ Sale.  VA is looking to increase the promotion and personalisation of this sale across more channels, primarily promoted through Facebook.

Previously, our SEM activity was not personalised for the sale due to the 48 hour (or less) turn-around time period from route briefings to live sale.

Analysis of these routes’ performance during the Happy Hour Sale showed that they were seeing stronger performance during this time period without personalisation. Imagine what could be achieved with a bespoke script which we could use to amplify the specified routes at scale?


  • These routes change on a week to week basis and are communicated within 48 hours or less of the sale
  • There is no sales specific feed which can be utilised
  • Updating the creative at a route level is a labor intensive task

Overarching Strategy

Based on our past learnings, customers searching for a flight are more likely to interact and convert on ads that feature sale-themed messaging and a competitive price point. We needed to find a way to implement this on a week to week basis.

The strategic platform focused on three key pillars:

  1. Data Input Protocol
  2. Automated Data Management
  3. Automated Output Delivery


Working with Google we developed a bespoke script that reads an internal sales file, mapping the routes to an ad group level and building a business data feed specific to the sale.

The script continues to run the following steps:

  1. Pausing all ad copy for the specified routes at the start of the sale
  2. Activating route specific sales creative that utilises ad customisers pulling in real time prices and a real time countdown towards sales end from the business data feed
  3. Applying a bid modifier to the routes on sale to increase their average position for the duration of the sale
  4. Returning all variables back to their presale state at the end of sale


Following the implementation we saw our strongest Happy Hour Sale to date and have continued to achieve stronger results than previous non-personalised campaigns.

Comparing results ‘with VS without’ the script we’ve already seen the below:

  • Clicks: 60% increase WoW
  • Orders: 174% increase WoW
  • CPA: 28% decrease WoW

This script is now being repurposed to further optimise bidding based on historical learnings and a performance scale to be utilised across any and all sales. We continue to support VA’s sales in a sophisticated and efficient manner, delivering better results each week.

Share this Post!

About the Author :

Copyright 2015 - Columbus Agency - All Rights Reserved.