News Article ————

Oban International shortlisted for Global Search Awards!

Author image Published by Leenesha Friend
Published Date 27.06.2023

Oban International is thrilled to be shortlisted in the Best Use of Paid Search (Travel & Leisure) category at this year’s Global Search Awards.


Oban International specialises in international growth

Founded in 2002, Oban International is a Brighton-based digital marketing agency which specialises in international growth. By identifying the biggest opportunities for global expansion – and avoiding costly mistakes – the agency helps ambitious brands hit tough global targets. Oban has a network of Local In-Market Experts – called LIMEs – in 80 countries, who provide the digital, linguistic, and cultural insights that shape client campaigns. Core services include SEO, paid media, content marketing, and international UX and CRO.


Oban International’s work with Big Bus Tours

Oban International has worked with Big Bus Tours since 2016. With a presence in 23 cities in 11 countries, Big Bus Tours is the world’s largest operator of open-air sightseeing tours. Before 2020, the company was smashing growth targets every year – then the pandemic hit.


Covid-19 was devastating for tourism, but Big Bus – focused on some of the busiest cities in the world – was especially affected. Ticket sales went off a cliff. Years of growth ground to a halt. Oban’s Global Search Awards entry tells the story of how one of the biggest names in sightseeing was able to bounce back from the pandemic, bigger and better than before.


How Big Bus bounced back

This cross-border campaign was managed centrally by a UK team, using input from Local In-Market Experts in the relevant cities. The paid media activity was based around three pillars:



  • Reviewed the entire campaign structure to ensure solid foundations



  • Rolled out Smart Bidding in line with best practice
  • Restructured 120+ live campaigns to ensure the best framework for Smart Bidding
  • Revised how keywords were grouped by intent
  • Revised location targets
  • Used a careful combination of manual and automated bidding for optimal impact



  • Refreshed creatives
  • Tested a Broad Match strategy to drive reach
  • Tested Dynamic Search Ads
  • Overlaid internal data with keyword research to identify more non-English language opportunities
  • Constantly iterated the campaign with incremental improvements to deliver sustainable competitive advantage


Compared to 2019 (the last year before Covid-19), paid media results for the period of this award entry were very strong:

  • Traffic up 16%
  • Revenue up 33%
  • CTR up by 66%
  • ROAS up by 7%


Our target audience was broad: namely, visitors to the world’s most iconic cities looking for the best way to explore those cities. A key challenge is that each city has its own characteristics – different seasonal peaks, competitor sets, weather conditions, and market challenges – which means each city requires an individual paid media approach. This was a truly cross-border campaign which focused on 23 cities in 11 countries, attracting tourists from all over the world.  


Why Oban’s work for Big Bus Tours was shortlisted

All tourism businesses were badly affected by Covid – but what set this entry apart was four things:

  • The degree to which Big Bus Tours were affected by the downturn.
  • The extent of the bounce back – not just recovering to the pre-pandemic position, but far exceeding it to build back bigger and better than before.
  • The degree to which our international focus ensured that non-English speaking opportunities (in French, German, and Spanish) were identified and maximised, using Local In-Market Experts to provide linguistic, cultural, and digital insights to guide strategy.
  • The degree to which we’ve embraced Smart Bidding and used it to our advantage – given the scale of the campaign, clever use of automation was essential. In particular, doing this across 23 cities which each required a bespoke approach demonstrated cross-border excellence.


What the Global Search Awards means to us

Sarah Jennings, CEO of Oban International, said: “These awards recognise excellence in Global Search – so to have our work shortlisted in this way is an honour. The extent to which Big Bus Tours bounced back from a challenging situation is impressive.”


Are you looking to expand your business internationally?

If you’re looking to expand your business internationally using digital marketing techniques, Oban International and its network of Local In-Market Experts can help. To find out how, please get in touch.


For regular international marketing insights, please follow Oban International on LinkedIn.

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