‘Programmatic marketing can eat into online bookings market’

Travel companies could use a programmatic approach to marketing to reduce the reliance on online bookings, a media agency says.

In a blog post for Equimedia, media planning group head Charlotte Summers said using programmatic in near real-time will help firms connect with customers researching their next getaway.

Programmatic is a data-driven way to precisely target online adverts by automatically buying and selling digital display media based on browsers interests and behaviour.

Summers says it has evolved as a response to changing media consumption habits and a growing need for advertisers to become more accountable for their media investments and the impact they make.

She said: “The vast amount of data available on customers and their media habits allows brands to tailor communications and be far more targeted in who to show ads to, where and when. It is this clever use of data that is transforming programmatic into a premium digital marketing tactic.”

An example of programmatic is using weather data alongside first-hand customer data to target audiences based on live conditions. A ski resort in Vermont, Summers said, used weather signals to trigger their ads so that when it was snowing there the resort would be advertised to users in nearby New York.

“Programmatic is all about being relevant and identifying the moments that matter,” she said. “You may have heard Google talk about ‘I want to go away’ or ‘I want to book’ moments and what happens in these moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process. A lot of planning goes into travelling and people are increasingly turning to their devices for help, making informed decisions faster than ever before.

“The travel industry is known for its dynamic customer base and competitive nature, and therefore lends itself well to an effective, hyper targeted programmatic approach which could help shift the industry’s reliance away from online travel bookers.

“Through customised audience targeting, brands can reach a desired set of customers based on interest and behaviours and even utilise it to re-engage with customers, locate new ones who look the same or use it to sell additional products and services, for example upgraded seat reservations following a flight booking.”

Summers says programmatic is cost-effective for smaller operators and can drive business away from travel aggregators, direct hotel and airline bookings or other providers while generating interest in less-booked trips and engaging with niche audiences.

“The future is bright for brands entering into the programmatic space, and with the technology evolving and expanding the opportunities to connect with your customers can only grow,” Summers concluded.

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