To capture the attention of potential explorers, maximum visibility and strong branding is key, says Integral Ad Science EMEA MD Nick Morley
It didn’t take long for the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ to become iconic, and there is one main reason why: effective marketing. While already famous in their own right, destinations such as Peru’s Machu Picchu and Jordan’s Petra received an even greater boost when presented as the world’s ultimate travel experiences.
For travel brands, this success provides a crucial lesson. To capture the attention of potential explorers, maximum visibility and strong branding is key — and with nearly two-fifths (39%) of Brits booking through online travel agents in 2019, achieving that requires an accurate, effective digital marketing strategy.
Becoming the eighth travel wonder
To ensure success in the competitive travel space, digital media can’t be overlooked – not only because it absorbs a large share of purchases, but also for its significant influence. Research shows the average UK traveller spends 11 hours finding information online before booking, which makes a powerful digital presence essential to impact final decisions.
At the same time, intense competition also creates smaller margins for error. While being visible is crucial, one inappropriately placed ad — such as a promotion for cheap flights appearing beside news about a recent natural disaster — could dramatically change how travellers perceive a brand and risk putting them miles behind competitors.
As a result, brands need a proactive plan to safeguard their ad campaigns and build their reputation as a winning travel wonder.
Three factors to prevent digital turbulence
An active strategy that gives digital ads the maximum opportunity to connect with their intended audience needs to be robust, and must be included in the pre-flight safety checks:
- Viewability: don’t be a hidden gem
Although it might be assumed that buying ad space automatically guarantees it will appear within eyeshot of target audiences, this isn’t always the case. Varying screen sizes, scrolling habits, and page loading times can mean some ads are only partially in view or out of sight entirely. The good news is viewability rates are rising: research by Integral Ad Science (IAS) shows that on average, almost 70% of standard desktop ads met the industry viewability benchmark in H1 2019 — 50% of an ad in view for at least one second, or two seconds for video. However, with 30% falling below this bar globally, keeping watch on viewability is still paramount for brands. By reallocating spend towards inventory that meets industry standards and drives return on investment (ROI), travel providers will avoid wasting ad budgets.
- Ad fraud: don’t get taken for a ride by your travel guide
Ranging from $6.5 billion to $19 billion, calculations of how much ad fraud costs digital advertisers are varied, but it’s widely agreed the impact needs to be curbed. Brands must be vigilant in fending off multiple types of ad fraud; such as invalid traffic and illegal bots that dupe brands into believing real humans are interacting with messages. In the same way a consumer wouldn’t want to book a 5-star luxury resort, when in reality they’ll be staying at a 2-star hostel, brands should be aware of underhand techniques designed to steal their ad spend; domain spoofing, for example, disguises lower-quality websites as premium ad space. Desktop video is a prime example of the difference protecting campaigns can make, with recent IAS findings pointing to a 1.0% worldwide drop in fraud for ads optimised against illicit activity.
- Brand suitability: sun and sandals vs snow and skis
Placing ads beside content that aligns with a brand’s values, ethics, and offering, while steering clear of anything that could damage its reputation is essential to keep consumers positively engaged. There are certain topics that any travel brand will want to keep away from, including content containing offensive language or linked with violence and illegal drugs. Yet there can also be differences in what counts as ‘safe’ or ‘suitable’ for each brand, for instance; appropriate content for an adventure holiday brand aimed at 18-34 year olds may not be the best fit for a family-centric brand. It’s for this reason that brands need to factor a brand suitability strategy — not basic brand safety tactics — into their defences.
Ready for take-off
Utilising third-party verification tools will enable brands to measure potential placements against industry-approved viewability standards and set customised limits for suitability. Combined with comprehensive fraud prevention, these solutions offer travel brands assurance that ad campaigns meet all core protection factors. The data provided by these tools also allows brands to optimise ad placements for driving business outcomes, delivering impactful, precisely targeted messaging and promotions to capture attention in the right way.
Challenging as it might sound, it is possible for every brand in the travel industry to execute precautions that keep up with digital content creation, deliver reliable precision, and reach target audiences – without compromising on scale and ROI. By embracing tools that can uphold the protection factors, brands can continually improve their competitive edge and become known as a first-class travel wonder.