A Fantastical Journey Into Data

2017 | New Zealand

Air New Zealand safety videos are this country’s best known social media campaigns, each one packing a global impact.

But since they first launched the competition has intensified, and for our latest campaign we needed to deliver audiences in the tens of millions, with the mission-critical period of just 72 hours. To achieve this Air New Zealand needed scale optimisation and reporting, all in real time.

Slight problem: that technology didn’t exist.

So we used our specialist developer skills to design and build a live reporting tool that could monitor across 10 time zones and tens of millions of views. We called it Flight Deck.

With Flight Deck on board, we not only exceeded our global audience target by 40%, we doubled it YOY. It’s the powerful new engine driving Safety Videos to new heights.



An iconic brand asset

The safety video is usually the least-interesting part of a flight. In 2010 Air New Zealand revolutionised the humble safety video, making it entertaining both on and off the plane.

Since launching, their safety videos have starred the All Blacks, Bear Grylls, Betty White, even the cast of The Hobbit, becoming iconic globally.

High Expectations

Air NZ sets the challenge for each new video to be the most watched in the world. No easy challenge when we were about to launch their 14th safety video.

‘A Fantastical Journey’ featured Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr. promoting New Zealand’s beauty in a visually fantastical way.

We had one huge media objective:

Achieve 10 million views across 10 global markets– +38% YOY!

Markets were – NZ, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore & Germany.

To achieve 10M views, we definitely needed a new model.

Research uncovered three pain points:

The first 72 hours are make or break

For people who want to be viewed as opinion leaders, being the first to discover new content acts as a powerful motivation to share.
Being ‘new’ has an expiry date, 300 hours of content uploads to YouTube every minute. We needed to act swiftly to allow immediate discovery. Past video data proved that 72 hours was when new became old.

Agile optimisation essential
Global content distribution requires management of multiple publisher’s performance data, across countries. With a 72-hour deadline, the need for live and accurate performance data was critical. Globally this ability did not exist…yet.

Real time reporting
The client required real time reporting for the launch, across all time zones, wherever they were. Previously this was being collated manually and updated via spreadsheet, not ideal!

By engaging our internal technology team, we developed a technology solution that forever changed the launches of Safety Videos for Air NZ.



We designed and built a live reporting tool for Air NZ with functionality that monitored real-time view performance across 10 global time zones. We called it Flight Deck.

The interface visualised live performance data and was developed for both desktop use and as a mobile app.

It enabled a single source of truth for real-time global safety video performance, enabling us to make informed optimisation decisions instantly during our crucial 72-hour window.

How we developed it?

We developed the blueprint, but no third-party vendor in NZ had this capability yet. With only months to launch, we became the tech developers and created our own proprietary tool.

We gained access to every market’s ad reporting account.

Ideally, we’d be able to change placement IDs across markets using identical naming conventions, but this wasn’t the case due to discrepancies in reporting conventions across the 10 markets. Using Datarama we implemented a lookup table that overrode IDs, establishing common naming conventions and enabling a seamless data interpretation.

We circumvented publishers usual reporting practices; 24-hour data feed updates and three-day reporting windows.

Bespoke API feeds with Giant, Spotify, Snapchat and Twitter plus data from YouTube and Facebook fed Flight Deck.


‘A Fantastical Journey’ launched 9th of July 2017, 5am NZT and Flight Deck went live.

5am also saw the ‘war room’ at Air NZ spring into action with one core mission – as many views as possible. Agency staff and client teams set up ready to optimise in real time based on insights delivered by Flight Deck. All clients had Flight Deck on desktops and mobiles for live, anywhere reporting.

Flight Deck enabled us to make the biggest impact in the first 72 hours

Standard self-serve platforms take 24 – 48 hours to auto optimise meaning actionable insights are only able to be accessed 24h later. Flight Deck used live data feeds, enabling us to develop learnings faster than automated platforms. This meant we optimised the campaign when needed, driving live views and more effective budget allocation.

Flight Deck’s data visualisation saved us having to analyse 70 lines of data every hour, instead a live view counter pooled all API feeds into a total view count per market. This meant less time spent organising data and more time actually optimising views.

Within 72 hours of launch, Fantastical Safety became a trending video on You Tube.

Agile optimisation became a reality through Flight Deck

The first 12 hours of the campaign revealed insights that enabled us to make smarter optimisation decisions.

Japan kick-start their day with video

Within the first two hours of going live, Japan was outspending New Zealand. Analysing view data through Flight Deck we saw that people in Japan were watching video content as early as 4am. So, we shifted budget and up-weighted Japan specifically for this day part.

The point of diminishing video views
Like television, online video reaches saturation point where increasing spend won’t increase views. It’s easy to miss this tipping point with standard reporting. Flight Deck’s live reporting allowed us to maximise budget allocation efficiency in relation to this.

Facebook video outperforms Google
Initial budgeting had equal allocation between Facebook and Google. But, a quick look at live view performance by platforms showed that Facebook was outperforming Google 2:1. So, within hours of launching we shifted budget from Google to Facebook, exponentially increasing effectiveness.

Argentina watches in bursts
Argentina had an effective overall CPV but view performance wasn’t consistent and limited to a three-hour burst each day. Flight Deck helped us identify this pattern and were able to optimise accordingly.

Giant was kicking butt in North & South America
Video distributor Giant was initially planned for use across all markets. Flight Deck showed that it was most effective in USA, Canada, Brazil and Argentina so we reallocated spend to match.


Hourly reports were finally just a click away

We created Flight Deck for mobile and desktop, with access enabled for both the media and the client team. This meant that all parties from our local client team in NZ to the CMO in Alaska, had a single source of truth, which drastically sped up the client approval process.

Our Air NZ global client and media teams could also see exactly how their markets were tracking, which gave them flexibility to increase or decrease investment. They were also able to use it to update the business on progress without additional reporting required – another pain point removed!




We smashed the targets!

Objective: Achieve 10 million views

>>> we achieved 14 million

Fantastical Safety became #1 on YouTube in New Zealand during the first five days of the launch (without a single kitten in it!).


“We’re delighted with the results from this safety video campaign. Flight deck was revolutionary, giving real time insights on how our audiences were reacting to the content, allowing the team to optimise media investments effectively.”

Jessica Yip Senior Manager, Digital & Social Media Marketing | Global Brand & Content Marketing at Air New Zealand
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