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Travel Marketing and Programmatic Advertising

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Grant Whiteside

Since the late 90’s, travel marketing has been one of the most competitive sectors to reach, engage, convert and retain customers in. Holiday makers and travellers alike have actively used the web to review prices, levels of service and compare choices of destination and accommodation.

The strategies used by the travel industry have evolved considerably as above the line advertising and expensive brochure print runs have moved towards a blend of online / offline campaigning with measurable and definable results. We have gone from the pre PPC days of depending exclusively on organic search visibility and display advertising in the late 90’s to today’s challenge of reaching potential customers  using a far more sophisticated approach based on flawless technical implementation, strategic content, data modelling and programmatic advertising.

There isn’t any room for brands to rest on their laurels simply because they have provided a great level of service in the past. There is no room for gut feeling in advertising anymore, not even for the marketer that feels out of their comfort zone when it comes to understanding analytics or business intelligence. Programmatic advertising is now an accompaniment to the marketing mix that no one can afford not to consider; it’s up with there with call tracking, the other bastion of ‘I never needed it before, so why do it now’. These marketing strategies are now simply becoming integral parts of the engagement process that will define the brands that will survive and those who will struggle to deal with change and the opportunities that come from it.

It’s true to say that programmatic advertising is not a shortcut to solving all of your advertising worries. As the channel evolves, there is still a lot of wastage and the myriad of new players providing this service do vary in ability to either spend for your budget for you wisely and those that will happily just spend your budget. It reminds me of the embryonic days of search marketing and SEO agencies – some agencies know what they’re talking about whilst others take a more rounded approach to media buying, just making sure that your budget is spent at all costs. We generally find that those brands in the travel market that have invested in understanding audience data sets and how you maximise the opportunities from this have a better chance of making their programmatic advertising far more profitable.

Like any other marketing channel, programmatic advertising will be a disappointment if you do not have a strategy behind it. Here are a few reasons to consider using it as a marketing option.

  • Programmatic doesn’t have to be about reaching out to a new audience. Why don’t you try reaching back out to an audience that has stopped engaging with you?
  • Programmatic can steal considerable market share from competitors. Try only targeting people that are being followed by your competitors’ ads.
  • Understanding frequency caps is a great way of keeping the marketing budget costs under control without annoying your audience with over exposure to your advertising. Don’t overcook the audience; they’ll resent you for it whilst you waste your marketing budget.
  • Consider using programmatic advertising for specific marketing campaigns tailored to the time of day, the devices and the locations people use to look for your services.

A word of experience:

When a supplier offers you 20% off your programmatic media budget, and another offers you 40% off, with virtually the same reach, you’ll soon realise that they are more interested in selling media space than they are in you reaching your marketing goals.  Client service and a distinct lack of clarity is an issue that still needs to be addressed in the programmatic space.

Find a supplier or agency that can use a portfolio approach across all your digital advertising. The more a brand can feed its conversion data back into the deployment of the campaign to then further refine its exposure and conversion rates, the more successful the campaign will be.

To find out more about working with an agency that knows which suppliers provide the best service for your programmatic advertising needs, especially within travel marketing please contact us at info@ambergreen.co.uk.


We will be attending the World Travel Market (WTM) 2014 London, on Wednesday 5th November. If  you would like a personal one to one with Josh Englander; our Head of Strategy and Planning to discuss how we can help you reach your business goals, please contact Josh at jenglander@ambergreen.co.uk

Grant Whiteside
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