Barclays Travel Forum: Google PPC ‘here to stay’ despite spiralling costs

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The recent deluge of TV campaigns by travel firms is unlikely to have had a substantial impact on the spiralling costs of marketing online, according to Lowcost chief executive Paul Evans.

Barclays asked the travel experts for their views on the rising cost of pay per click (PPC) advertising on the dominant search engine Google.

All agreed that although the costs were becoming unsustainable, PPC was here to stay, but that alternative forms of marketing had to be exploited.

Lowcost’s consumer-facing OTA Lowcost Holidays was an early mover on TV two years ago, with Evans saying it helped it to significantly cut its PPC costs.

He said this was because it achieved 60% brand recall and, although that had since dropped to 53%, establishing the brand had kept the PPC spend down.

“The problem you have got at the moment is that everyone has gone on to TV, but no one is going big enough, so it’s not sticking,” said Evans.

“There is not enough definition or enough depth, other than by the big guys. You do not get a campaign standing out unless you spend at least £2 million.”

Evans said it was important to have a blend of marketing strategies incorporating areas such as metasearch, customer relationship management, trade and above the line.

Love Holidays non-executive director Dermot Blastland said: “PPC is here to stay. The main issue is that it’s getting too expensive.

“You have to be doing it all the time. Then you get a cumulative effect as people become aware of you, and as a result your brand traffic improves.”

STA Travel chief financial officer Steve Jenkins said: “What we are trying to do is minimise our costs of digital advertising by looking at such things as display.

“How we stand out online is through good content and search engine optimisation.”

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