Case Study

Digital and data combine, driving more than 24 million visits to Expo 2020 Dubai


How do you convert millions of visits to a global event, while adapting to new data management requirements at short notice?


Bring in a rapidly deployed, highly sophisticated, structured customer data platform (CDP) to inform strategic audience engagement and drive ticket sales and attendance.


Using the Tealium Customer Data Hub for customer targeting, Expo 2020 Dubai achieved 24.1 million visits, improved its conversion rate by 37%, and upsold events to visitors throughout the show.

 Jad Hindy, SVP Marketing, Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “While we were excited to get the green light to execute on our marketing plan for Expo 2020, the timeline put us under pressure. Tealium’s integration was swift enough to be implemented without compromising the project plan. Furthermore, once put in place, its sophistication meant that the integrity of data flowing across platforms and from external marketing channels was higher than with the previous DMP. Delivering against such ambitious targets would not have been viable without the quality of data offered by the CDP.”

Expo 2020 Dubai brought together some of the greatest architecture, most ground-breaking technologies, the finest cuisine, and hospitality from over 190 countries through six months of entertainment. For the organisers, this global event brought with it the expectation of visits in the tens-of-millions.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused Expo 2020 Dubai to be delayed, with uncertainty about when, exactly, it would take place. Once the event was given the green light to open its doors in 2021, it was essential to accelerate the attraction of attendees to ensure a successful event. However, the Expo 2020 Dubai team had previously been using a cookie-based data management platform (DMP) to inform strategic customer engagement, which resulted in all data being lost once the event was postponed.

As such, the team needed a CDP to handle the fresh, first-party customer data resulting from the large-scale, high-impact, digital marketing programme, led by global media agency OMD. It was key that lost momentum was rapidly regained.

Viktor Maksymov, Director – eCommerce & Performance Marketing, OMD MENA, stated, “Marketing an event of this scale, within such a tight timeframe, from the ground up, to hit a target of over 20 million visits, felt like a near-impossible task. It demanded the marketing infrastructure that would allow us to personalise customer targeting at huge scale. Tealium’s Customer Data Hub made identification, personalisation, and segmentation possible. To achieve the conversion rates that we did, in such a short timeframe, is nothing short of miraculous.”

Deploying Tealium’s Customer Data Hub enabled the media buying team to retarget potential visitors more efficiently, with the CDP facilitating a more responsive and accurate understanding and therefore targeting of customers.

Given the compressed timeframe, it could have been tempting to simply keep investing resources into broad-reach marketing activities. Use of the CDP, however, enabled more targeted marketing, and, with it, better management and optimisation of resources.

Driving ticket sales was one objective. But with visits being a key metric alongside this, ensuring that ticket purchasers actually attended the Expo was essential.

The CDP enabled the team to identify those customers with long-term Expo 2020 Dubai passes but who hadn’t yet redeemed tickets, and prompt them to visit multiple events or buy a repeat ticket.

Exclusive passes, promotions, and offers were presented to the relevant customers for the days they had booked tickets for. For example, a particular global artist appearing on the Infinite Nights programme could be promoted to those who already had tickets for the relevant day. Specific events became an important incentive to drive ticket holders to the Expo.

Targeting audience segments via the Tealium Customer Data Hub enabled Expo 2020 Dubai to improve conversion rate by 37% across the six months of the event. It was this targeted engagement strategy that enabled the team to surpass its target, securing 24.1 million visits in total.

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