The evolution of how consumers search and book travel online has created a digital ecosystem which can be extremely difficult for marketers to navigate. In our latest State of the Industry: The 2019 Report on Travel Advertising, we surveyed more than 600 travel marketers around the world to better understand the challenges and successes they face in navigating the complex, and ever-changing, travel advertising landscape.
The Digital Ecosystem for Travel Marketers
Digital was almost half of all advertising spend in 2018, and that number will rise, with two in three travel marketers planning to spend more in 2019.
And along with increasing digital ad budgets, the number of available advertising channels, platforms, and tools continues to grow—creating both massive opportunity, but increased complexity for marketing practitioners. Layer on top expiring inventory, managing multiple distribution channels, and travelers demanding tailored messaging and experiences based on their trip intent, and the task of marketing effectively to travelers seems insurmountable.
Thus, 46 percent of travel marketers chose “personalized ads and offers in real-time” as their top challenge, followed closely by “achieving ROI and profitability targets for advertising investments,” “targeting travelers during a specific point along their path to purchase,” and “keeping up with the fast-paced advertising and technology landscape” (all at 45%).
Without complete and real-time visibility into a traveler’s buying behavior, brands will continually be challenged to deliver effective and personalized advertising to efficiently increase their ROI.
To see how marketers can effectively reach consumers in this ever-evolving digital landscape, let’s take a look at three trends we uncover in our 2019 Report on Travel Advertising:
Trend #1: Increased Usage of Social Media
The growth in ad dollars flowing into Facebook’s platform is still accelerating, reaching nearly $33 billion in 2018. Why? Because the combination of Facebook’s massive global scale and the ability to target ads to niche segments makes it appealing to all industries. As Facebook and Instagram continue to launch advertising products to help travel marketers and address their specific needs, you can expect travel marketers to continue spending on the platform (55% said they plan to spend more this year), to reach and influence their audiences.
Trend #2: Marketers Embrace Visual Storytelling
Through the power of video, travel marketers are able to showcase their properties and experiences in a more engaging manner—creating excitement among prospective and booked travelers, whether it be on social or YouTube.
In 2019, 54 percent plan on using YouTube advertising, 50 percent plan on using Instagram Stories, and 49 percent of travel marketers report that they plan on using Facebook Stories to actively engage travelers. And with the growing use of live streaming video and connected television, using programmatic ads on video will allow marketers advanced audience targeting capabilities.
Trend #3: Using Data to Close the Gaps
Even the most sophisticated and well-resourced marketers may only see when a customer interacts with their brand—giving them limited visibility into the many other interactions a traveler has along their customer journey.
Today’s most successful travel brands are going beyond what data they already know and asking about what data is left unseen. 61 percent leverage data for the ability to target travelers based on intent and/or where they are in the path to purchase, 60 percent said data gave them better visibility into traveler behavior across websites and apps, and 59 percent activate data to understand where they’re winning or losing customers across the path to purchase.
With the complete knowledge into a traveler’s cumulative path to purchase and the travel patterns of individual travelers over time, including what motivates them trip to trip, brands gain a deeper understanding of who their customers are, and where they are across the buyer’s journey to more intelligently plan future campaigns and their overall digital strategy.
Looking for more detail on the key challenges travel marketers face, how they’re allocating advertising budget across channels, where they are finding success, and what technologies may impact the future of marketing?
Download our full State of the Industry: The 2019 Report on Travel Advertising today.