Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency – Tnooz

Little has been written about Expedia Media Solutions, the small but fast-growing advertising agency arm of the online travel giant Expedia. In 2015, the division is estimated to have generated about $200 million in revenue. That’s pocket change for the Bellevue, Wash.,-based parent company, which earned nearly $2 billion in the third quarter of last year alone.

Yet Expedia Media Solutions — or MeSo, as it’s known internally — is notable for its solid growth. The division had a 23% annualized growth rate on a nine-month, trailing period, as of the third-quarter, according to a Tnooz analysis of the parent company’s filings, which was corroborated by Kevin Kopelman, director of research at investment firm Cowen and Company. (Expedia declined to break out official numbers for this story.)

Fractured market

Expedia Media Solutions helps clients — primarily travel ones, such as hotels, airlines, and tourism boards — by creating and running ad campaigns aimed at boosting bookings, visitor numbers, and awareness. In a rare competitive advantage, it knows how much value a client earns from an ad because the bulk of its ads link-in to Expedia-owned brands, where it can measure changes in demand and user behaviour before, during, and after a campaign.

A hotel chain, for instance, could see if a sponsored listing in search results generated meaningful returns in room-night growth or if a brand campaign coincided with a lift in intention-to-buy among consumers. Expedia Media Solutions is notable for its attempt to bring enterprise-scale solutions and thinking to travel marketing — a sector that might be broadly described as being small-bore, fractured, and still heavily analogue. Director of product management Wendy Olson Killion noted in an interview:“

For hotel franchises, for example, there are different budgets: there are national budgets, local budgets, regional budgets. You’ll see regional travel groups, maybe a certain set of hotels, or brands of hotels in a location.”

Similarly, the destination marketing organization (DMO) side is practically a cottage industry of boutique advertising agencies, small publishers (such as travel magazines), and tourism officials. In short, travel marketing at the ad-unit level is not an obvious hunting grounds for an enterprise-scale company like Expedia.

Expedia Media Solutions has had to fight an island-by-island campaign to gain market share. It has made gains recently by adding several high-profile clients, such as Tourism Australia last June. It has done work for the destination marketing organizations of Britain, Denmark, Dubai, and the Netherlands.

Despite the big clients, Expedia Media Solutions said it is “well equipped to help the individual small supplier.” Matthew Reichek, senior director of product and analytics, cited this hypothetical example:

“If I own a B&B in Worcester, Mass., let’s say, and you represent a big chain across town, you and I can compete on a level footing using our TravelAds product…. “I can have a thousand dollars to spend, you can have a hundred thousand dollars to spend, yet if I bid more than you for certain targeting parameters, I’m going to get the positioning I want for those targeted customers until I hit my budget and you won’t, provided all the other things are equal.”

Simplicity is another factor that the division touts. A client can also come speak to one sales person to target a broad spectrum of types of travelers worldwide.

Sharper targeting

Just because it works at an enterprise scale doesn’t mean that Expedia’s ad agency arm takes a one-size-fits-all approach, said division head and global senior vice-president Noah Tratt:

“We are pretty good about identifying the nuances in people’s goals and building campaigns that are customized. We use our research and analytics to inform your creative; how much content you need to invest in; the pitch, your approach. We can target based on a lot of activity that people do on Expedia and then we can layer on other kinds of targeting variables as well.”

“For example, clients can request ads be displayed to specific demographics in specific geographic locations who are using particular types of devices and exhibiting particular types of search behaviour.”

“If I’m marketing, say, Holland to a Brazilian or to an American or someone from the People’s Republic of China, we know from booking behaviour that visitors from those destinations are going to come for a lot longer, on average, than ones from, say, the United Kingdom and Germany.”

“We would tailor our campaign for a destination according to our research from booking data on each target nationality’s typical behaviour and interests.”

Shaking up destination marketing

Expedia Media Solutions thinks it has a few competitive advantages over its boutique ad agency rivals. It said that it excels at enabling a DMO to target customers across Expedia-branded sites that match its preferred customer profile. Other shift-share reporting services can tell any given tourism board what its competitive set looks like. But Expedia’s reports may be more comprehensive than its competitors’ are when analysing at the ad-unit-level behaviours like click-through rates and impressions.

An official in, say, Macau, could choose to specifically display ads to, say, Canadians in a city whose travel buyers have recently shown a disproportionate interest in searching and buying flights to Macau and its competitors.

Reichek added:

“Targeting may sound kind of antiseptic, but if you talk about intention-based advertising, that’s what we’re doing, because, when users come to our site, they conduct certain activities that are expressing intention, where they want to go and what they’re interested doing, and you can divine a lot of meaning from that.”

Source: Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency – Tnooz

Link

Mount your headsets and get ready. Virtual reality (VR) is fast-tracking its way to possibly reinventing the way travel is marketed and sold.

The highly engaging, interactive VR environments that are already taking the tech and gaming industries by storm offer the travel industry an entirely new platform for selling travel as the technology is rapidly becoming more accessible to the masses.

“The travel industry is going to be one of the industries that will be most impacted by the onset of virtual reality,” said Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit, which helps create and distribute VR video content for various companies, including numerous travel suppliers such as Carnival Cruise Line and destination marketing organizations.

“How do you give somebody a sense of what it’s really like to be somewhere without principally being there?” Mandelbaum said. “Why do people go on TripAdvisor? Because they want to get a better feel for the place. We see [VR] as a very natural evolution that has taken place [in travel marketing], from text to photos to videos to virtual tours to virtual reality. The main thing that makes the virtual experiences unique is that they’re interactive. That interactivity leads to immersion, and that immersion leads to conversion.

“YouVisit was among the growing number of VR vendors showcasing their products at the Consumer Electronics Show #CES# in Las Vegas earlier this month, where VR content creators and hardware manufacturers were inundated with attendees hoping to experience the latest in VR technologies.

From the much-buzzed-about, Facebook-owned Oculus to the impressive upstart HTC Vive, from companies selling live-event VR capabilities to outfits hawking the 360-degree cameras and contraptions necessary to create VR video content, the VR arena was where the action was at CES. And according to industry insiders, tuned-in travel companies should be just as amped about the exploding technology.

Sean Whitmore, a senior analyst for San Francisco-based VR intelligence gathering and consulting firm Greenlight VR, said, “We’re seeing strong interest by Generation Z [people currently ages 10 to 17], who are likely to be early adopters of virtual reality-enabled headsets for travel-based experiences. However, as we’ve seen in the data for our upcoming 2016 Virtual Reality Consumer Report, Baby Boomers [people ages 51 and up] are also very interested in the concept of experiencing travel destinations through virtual reality, with 38% saying they are likely to try it.”

According to Whitmore, travel companies would be smart to start experimenting with different kinds of VR marketing efforts in order to see what works best for them and to begin to get a better sense of the level of investment required and what the potential returns will be on that investment.

“It’s important to recognize that the industry is in the early days of VR as a medium for brand advertising, and as such, measurability remains a challenge,” Whitmore said. “Despite the challenge of measurability, some marketers are achieving impressive organic reach and millions of earned media impressions, while consumers are reacting very positively.”

Source: Virtual reality check: Travel Weekly

TravelClick Partners with Sojern to Expand Digital Media Network

Data-driven solution and access to premium inventory channels will drive bookings and ROI for hoteliers globally

TravelClick, a global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, today announced that it has partnered with Sojern, one of the world’s leading performance marketing engines for travel brands. The partnership will enable TravelClick’s digital media customers to drive more bookings by leveraging Sojern’s data-driven marketing optimization engine and its access to premium inventory.

TravelClick works with thousands of hotels around the world, ranging from large chains to smaller independent properties, to manage and improve their digital advertising campaigns. TravelClick’s global media team, comprised of both media and hospitality industry experts, leverages proprietary data to determine the best media optimization strategy to achieve high returns on media investment for its clients.

Sojern joins TravelClick’s extensive network of partners enabling hoteliers to target the right audiences at the right time. “Our partnership with Sojern is another example of TravelClick’s commitment to providing our Media Solutions customers with access to a world class travel intent network,” said Scott Falconer, EVP/GM of Media Solutions for TravelClick.

“Sojern enhances TravelClick’s robust travel-focused network by leveraging their unique data partnerships to target travellers while they are making purchasing decisions online. We are confident that our hotel clients around the globe will benefit from access to this new inventory through this highly valuable partnership.”

“We are excited to be partnering with TravelClick to help hoteliers drive direct online bookings, increasing customer control and loyalty,” said Kurt Weinsheimer, Sojern’s SVP of Property Solutions. “Our real-time targeting platform filters through over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals to identify and attract travellers most likely to stay at our clients’ hotels. Combining our data-driven performance with TravelClick’s customer base of hotels worldwide will ensure that hoteliers get the most out of their digital advertising budgets.”

Source: TravelClick Partners with Sojern to Expand Digital Media Network

Marketing Takes on the Digital World | By Alan E. Young

Digital marketing is a term that is used frequently, but has the time come to stop considering it an entity that is separate from overall marketing strategies?The reality is that all marketing today contains a massive digital component. Today’s strategies must be conceptualized with the digital nature of the modern consumer in mind, as opposed to being an add-on to another marketing plan. People of all ages are increasingly running their lives with digital devices, and there is a growing expectation for the experience to be customized to their personal interests and needs.

mobile marketingAt the same time, there are many organizations that continue to separate digital from other marketing avenues, with segregated teams that do not work together cohesively. While this made sense in the early days of digital, it simply isn’t the most effective approach anymore.

To achieve marketing maturity in an ever-evolving landscape, companies must build an adaptable business structure that allows their team to be unified in working toward a single goal. The need to create high quality messaging is key, and marketers must continue to develop engaging and insightful content regardless of the medium.Although traditional channels still exist, it’s important to create digital cultures rather than marketing silos in order to fully integrate skills throughout organizations as we move into the future. The array of marketing activities need to be interwoven to develop robust campaigns that achieve success across the board, allowing for traditional to influence digital, and vice versa.What can we expect to see in the coming year?

Content marketing has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down in the coming period. While it can be easy to get caught up in the complexities of SEO elements, it’s essential to remember that the key is delivering fresh and relevant content that resonates with your target audience.

A new marketing focus is shifting away from simply creating more content to providing the right content. Consumers now expect personalized and hyper-relevant information that is delivered to them instantly wherever they are engaging, whether that is on social, email or any other channel. The pressure to consistently provide a seamless and enticing experience will increase and marketers must meet this demand to achieve success.

Ad-blocking is also on the rise, which will have a big effect on the future of marketing. The model of delivering free content that is funded by display advertising, such as banners and pop-ups, is therefore becoming less effective. Taking advantage of cleaner platforms that showcase truly relevant content as part of a cohesive communications strategy will help marketers to avoid losing ground from the growing usage of ad-blocking software.

The Gold Mine of DataPredictive analytics is becoming increasingly useful to assist with the efficient allocation of marketing budgets. By utilizing the latest tools and techniques to make sense of the massive amount of data that is being generated with each impression and click, there is a tremendous opportunity to make the most out of every marketing dollar that is spent.

Most organizations are spending marketing dollars across many different channels. The ability to attribute value to each touchpoint in the path to purchase will allow marketers to accurately predict the budget allocation that will perform best. Additionally, predicting the probability of an audience to become a customer allows the focus to be on high value prospects.

Modern consumers expect a high level of personalization. By combining digital experiences with customer data, it becomes possible to predict the groups of users that are more or less likely to respond to different types of messages, offers and imagery. Today’s personalization tools allow marketers to deliver customized content that matches a consumer’s interests and expectations with a much higher degree of accuracy than has been possible in the past.B

eacon is the New MobileConsidering the growing prevalence of mobile shopping, beacon technology usage is expected to increase exponentially in the coming year. Location-based marketing offers attention-grabbing ways to engage with consumers by providing them with discounts and other information on their smartphone when they are in close proximity to a store.A 2015 study by Air Mile operator LoyaltyOne, in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association, indicates that 62% of Canadian consumers who were surveyed are using their smartphones to assist them while shopping, with this number increasing to 80% among millennials. Impressively, 45% of the respondents said that they have used a device in-store that has led them to make an immediate purchase. When asked what they find appealing about connecting with retailers through in-store beacons, 62% of respondents said that they like the idea of receiving rewards that are relevant to their location, while 56% appreciate receiving alerts that are related to their whereabouts.

Certainly, the meteoric rise of mobile marketing has prompted a growing number of smartphone users to opt-in to location-based deals. Although this requires consumers to expose their personal data and proximity to retailers, many believe that the incentive of exclusive, time-sensitive specials or rewards are worth the sacrifice of an element of privacy. At the same time, it’s important to find the most effective quantity of location-based services to send, as 23% of the survey respondents indicated that they have uninstalled or opted out of push notifications from a retailer’s app due to the frequency of messaging.

We are now living in an era where digital marketing can no longer be considered a stand-alone entity. The organizations that are most effective have removed marketing silos to create unified messaging concepts across all types of media and campaigns. In the coming year, the hyper-personalization of highly engaging and relevant content will be the primary key to ensure successful marketing initiatives in the digital world.

Source: Marketing Takes on the Digital World | By Alan E. Young

Drones tipped as travel marketing essential – www.travelweekly.co.uk

Suppliers, operators and agents in the luxury travel sector have been urged to update their visual offerings to clients by embracing drone technology.

Speaking at the Connections Luxury Asia event in Beijing, mobile and communications expert Ewan MacLeod said that hotel groups such as Waldorf Astoria and Conrad are leading the way with drone video footage replacing traditional photo galleries on their hotel’s websites.

Companies believe such videos give potential guests a true picture of the hotel, enabling them to envisage their holiday or plan an event with greater accuracy, MacLeod said.He added: “Make sure your hotel has the right video assets, not just the same old photos, some years old, in a media pack.nano drone

Video footage will soon be an expectation, not a bonus, to travellers worldwide.”Additionally, micro and nano drones such as the Zano model, crowdfunded by Kickstarter, offer a unique enhancement to outdoor and active travel experiences, as well as functions, he said.

Palm-sized and able to hover, these drones can be programmed to track a mountain biker, paraglider or a group of people from above, to record a unique memory for participants.

Kapil Berera, chief executive of Quintessentially Travels India, said: “We recently used drones to capture an outdoor wedding reception in Jaipur. The footage was quite extraordinary.  “The value-add offered by drones to both suppliers and operators is immeasurable. ”

Connections Luxury Asia took place at the Nuo Beijing hotel, bringing together buyers and suppliers of luxury travel from around the world

Source: Drones tipped as travel marketing essential – www.travelweekly.co.uk

Brand Karma & TrustYou Partner to Bring Hotel & Tourism Brands the Best of Reputation Management & Virtual Reality –

Brand Karma and TrustYou have announced a strategic partnership, bringing together TrustYou’s powerful reputation management tools and Brand Karma’s digital innovation in virtual reality (VR).

The needs of the travel enterprise continue to evolve. Hotels now need to unify a complex mix of traveller feedback from reviews, social media, and guest survey data to delight the guest and stay competitive.  At the same time, new media platforms are rapidly changing travel distribution, with virtual reality revolutionizing hotel sales and marketing.

Source: Brand Karma & TrustYou Partner to Bring Hotel & Tourism Brands the Best of Reputation Management & Virtual Reality –

The Hotel and Resort Operator’s Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016

Cover from The Hotel and Resort Operator's Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016 eBook

The Hotel and Resort Operator’s Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016

Vizergy Vizergy – Digital Travel Marketing, the hospitality industry’s leading provider of website design and digital marketing programs, releases its eBook on how hoteliers can plan and budget to achieve the highest return on investment for the upcoming year. Budgeting for digital marketing can be overwhelming due to the rapidly changing opportunities and numerous tools available. This ebook helps hoteliers stay on track by providing thoughtful recommendations from top media analysts along with a free budgeting Excel template.

More than half of all hotel rooms will be booked online by the end of 2015 (Google Research). Therefore, establishing a strategic digital marketing plan to capitalize on this trend is vital to the success of any hotel property. Vizergy’s complimentary eBook explains how hoteliers can align their digital marketing budgets with business goals and gives useful tips on deciding how much of your marketing budget to devote to digital. In addition to useful budget recommendations, the eBook includes a hotel digital marketing budget template created by our experts with more than 15 years of hospitality experience.

Click here to get a complimentary copy of “The Hotelier’s Guide to 2016 Digital Marketing Spend” today.

Source: The Hotel and Resort Operator’s Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016

14 Stats that Show Why Video Marketing is Important for Hotels. – 4Hoteliers

Source: 14 Stats that Show Why Video Marketing is Important for Hotels. –  4Hoteliers

By Nigel J. Rodgers

If hoteliers are looking to increase engagement and traffic to their websites, then video must be a part of the marketing plan as it is now the most sought-after form of content on the internet;

Most of the people on the internet are viewing videos and in a few years, the majority of content online will be video. There is countless marketing research revealing the popularity and impact of video.

Here are a few stats that show why video marketing is important for hotels.

  • 20% of users read text while 80% will watch a video with the same content. This shows that video is more appealing and easier to consume than text.
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Google, of course, is #1 and Google owns YouTube. So by having a hotel video on YouTube, your content will appear on the two largest search engines on the internet.
  • Every month, more than one billion people visit YouTube to watch more than six billion hours of video. YouTube is the promised land for marketing your hotel through video. On YouTube, your video content is exposed to a population of internet users that almost matches the populations of China or India.
  • 100 million internet users watch online video each day. Though not all of them are watching travel videos, this is still a large number of people who can possibly see your video. Even if only 1% sees you video, that’s still 100,000 users that have become aware of your property.
  • The average user is exposed to an average of 32.2 videos in a month. That’s about 3,864 videos a year. With users encountering so many videos throughout the year, your hotel marketing videos have a big chance of being viewed.
  • 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. In two years, most of the people will be online to watch videos. Creating strong video content will help your hotel keep up with the times.
  • 33% of tablet owners watch one hour of video per day on their device.  89.7 million smartphone video viewers in the US in 2014. Viewing video on mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular. Be sure that your marketing videos are optimized for small screens.
  • Views of travel-related content up 118% year over year (YoY). The number of people viewing content specific to travel is increasing exponentially. Why not be a part of the travel video revolution?
  • 88% of YouTube Travel Searches Focus on Destinations. This is where the hotel becomes extremely important. When people know their destination, the next step is to find a great hotel.
  • Bookings are 67% more likely to happen when a video tour is available. As mentioned in my article about impactful types of video, digital tours of your hotel property are a powerful form of video content.
  • 65% of business executives visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video. A good video can generate more business traveller traffic to your hotel website which can improve direct booking numbers.
  • 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Hoteliers want to gain from their digital marketing investments. Video is one of the more efficient ways to achieve those gains.

Interesting Quote About the Impact of Video

“One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words” – Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research

Though some have quoted this statement as fact, it is indeed just a hyperbolic twist to the “A picture is worth a thousand words” quote that is often used in content marketing. A picture is worth 1000 words, there are 30 frames (pictures) per second in a standard video, and there are 60 seconds in a minutes. So 1000 x 30 x 60 = 1.8 million.

Even though this statement isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s still a testament to how powerful video marketing content can be for your hotel.

E-Marketing Associates helps independent hotels increase direct bookings and reduce reliance on OTAs. We build innovative online marketing products that deliver the best ROI for independent hotels. Our products aim to ultimately drive top-line revenue.

Think with Google debuts a travel dashboard to help US marketers – Tnooz

Google logo.jpegIn August Google’s marketing research arm, Think with Google, unveiled its Travel Dashboard — a free online tool that highlights recent and year-over-year trends based on Google data across the car rental, air, and hotel verticals in the United States.

The data has been designed to help marketers in planning their campaigns. It will be updated quarterly. For instance, the travel dashboard shows that between January and June 2015, airline direct brand queries rose 19% year-over-year for Delta and 52% year-over-year for Allegiant Air. That’s a sign that those airlines’ search marketing, AdWords, and branding campaigns may be working.

For hotels, search volume on mobile devices increased 49% during the first half of the year, relative to same period a year earlier. The gain for tours-and-activities was 47%, relative to the first half of 2014. More air queries were coming from mobile, too — up 32% year-over-year, as of March 2015, across all Google Data.

Drilling down for context One of the travel dashboard tools lets any user select from 25 major US markets to find out where people were traveling between July and September 2014, according to Google’s data. For instance, people in San Antonio were visiting Las Vegas 21% more during that quarter than they were in the same period a year prior — making Sin City the biggest gainer among destinations measured. The site reveals where travelers were coming from. Columbus, Ohio, (“Go Buckeyes!”) saw a 90% year-over-year increase in Chicagoans visiting.

The travel dashboard is looking at Google search data that shows where people in one location are searching for travel to another city. It’s not data from Google Flights or Google Hotels metasearch tools, says a company spokesperson.

GO DEEP: The Travel Dashboard by Think with Google

MORE: This Air France ad is the top travel brand video of 2015, so far, says Google – See more at: http://www.tnooz.com/article/think-with-google-debuts-a-travel-dashboard-to-help-us-marketers/#sthash.Y66ofknL.dpuf

Travel News – Internet Moguls launches ‘m-Powered Hotels’ to offer III-Tier digital marketing service to hotels | TravelBiz Monitor

Internet Moguls, a digital marketing solutions company for the hospitality industry, has launched a dedicated sub-brand, m-Powered Hotels, to offer complete III-Tier digital marketing services to hotels. m-Powered Hotels will take over complete software, revenue management, and digital marketing related activities of member hotels which join the brand network.

The company has already enlisted 24 hotels from India under m-Powered Hotels network. Revealing this new business vertical, Avijit Arya, Founder & CEO, Internet Moguls, said that the sub-brand, m-Powered Hotels, is targeted at hotels and hotel owners who do not have the bandwidth to handle digital marketing , revenue management and technology themselves. “This is a natural progression for us from a digital marketing agency to a complete software, revenue management and digital marketing solution provider,” he said. Today, 15 to 30 per cent of the total revenue are generated digitally. The share will be reaching up to 50 per cent very soon. Therefore, hotels that fail to leverage the technology in all aspects of operational and service delivery will be wiped out from the business, Arya observed.

The vision of the company is to equip m-Powered Hotels to manage revenue of USD 100 million in the next two years, he stated.  While the services being offered is comprehensive for any type of hotel, m-Powered Hotels will be targeting more standalone, unbranded hotels. “We want to position ourselves as a one-stop-shop for all sorts of technology and digital marketing services.”

As regards their capabilities, Arya said that they have a talent pool of more than 150 people from diverse backgrounds such as social media marketing, hospitality, advertising, consulting , etc. to support the process. “Moreover, we are powered by best in class technology that can get a hotel up and running in 21 days,” Arya said.

The company has plans to expand m-Powered Hotels memberships to regional countries like Sri Lanka, UAE, etc. “We see a lot of scope for this brand globally. However, our focus would be on India market initially before going to markets like Sri Lanka, UAE, etc.,” he informed. Internet Moguls provide digital marketing solutions to 500 hotels across 19 countries currently. Besides India, the company has offices in Dubai and Vancouver.

via Travel News – Internet Moguls launches ‘m-Powered Hotels’ to offer III-Tier digital marketing service to hotels | TravelBiz Monitor.