How Singapore Airlines is using artificial intelligence to build its brand and drive sales

EyeforTravel spoke to the person who is heading up the new digital campaign to hear more about the results

In October last year, Singapore Airlines embarked on a new journey in digital marketing in the UK using artificial intelligence to better target new customers. The airline, which had typically focused its marketing efforts on two key booking periods, decided it wanted a better level of exposure all year round.

It wanted to acquire new customers by educating the travel buying public about the more offbeat destinations it flies into. It also wanted to boost direct sales, in particular from regional Manchester Airport from which it flies daily.

“One of the problems we had is that many people know us for flying to Australia and we really wanted to diversify and make people aware of all the other different places that we fly to across Asia,” says Singapore Airlines marketing executive, Matt Donaldson.

Like any corporate, the airline went through a formal request for proposal but after shortlisting five companies, eventually settled on working with Rocket Fuel, a firm that uses artificial intelligence to target users based on online behaviour.

Take a look at this fully searchable video to understand better how Rocket Fuel technology works


In October last year, the two companies began working together on an on an ad hoc basis but in May cemented the relationship to continue with what Donaldson describes as always-on marketing activity.

So far there have been notable results including:

  • Average cost per acquisition (CPA) has halved 
  • An uptick in bookings to more off-beat destinations like the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar
  • 14% of total website bookings during the period were made after seeing a Rocket Fuel powered ads

To date, Singapore Airlines’ typical customer is the 50+ traveller visiting friends and relatives in New Zealand and Australia. It’s also used by the high-end affluent leisure travellers to destinations in Southeast Asia. Although many people viewed the airline as a more expensive brand, this wasn't the case but it was a perception it wanted to change. It did this be delivering key messages through ‘creatives’ designed for the banner adverts powered by its technology partner.

“Right now our key messages are to focus one the network and frequency, as well as our premium economy offering, food and beverage onboard and sale fares,” explains Donaldson, adding that Rocket Fuel optimises based on which creatives are generating most clicks.

Regional results

One of the interesting results of the campaign is the impact it’s had on bookings from a regional airport, something that many airlines struggle with. Typically airlines have tried to generate bookings by geo-targeting within a few miles of a city but that hasn’t really worked terribly well. By using artificial intelligence to model off converting customers, there is now a way to serve adverts more effectively by reacting to those customers that are more likely to book.

In conclusion, Donaldson says that this campaign is part of an overall strategy to grow online and reduce costs. “We know that the cost per sale of an online booking is much less than through other channels,” he says.

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