Travel companies could be forced to overhaul their approach to pay-per-click advertising following the findings of a wide-ranging report produced by search engine giant Yahoo!
The study, details of which are exclusive to Travolution, found that the “latent purchasing” effect of search is often reaching up to eight weeks until a booking is made on some queries, throwing long-held standards of tracking consumers into question.
YSM UK category development manager Nick Jones said current industry practice of using 30-day cookies to track consumer behaviour should be reconsidered. “There is compelling evidence to suggest opening up cookies through to a sale,” he said.
Ninety-day tracking through cookies, rather than the existing 30-day standard, would give travel companies a “better understanding” of the consumer journey, he added.
Meanwhile, the research confirmed the opinions of some in the industry that online travel agencies are still failing reach consumers early in the research process.
Only 28% of users said they visited an OTA first of all and less than half (42%) said they used an OTA for ideas for a trip.
Price comparison and meta search sites also performed disappointingly with consumers looking for ideas and the fastest route to get information.
Jones said: “People are still getting ideas from magazines and then going online to find information. Only then are they going to buy through an OTA or a high-street agent.”
Elsewhere in the report, two out of five users admitted to clicking on a travel-related website they didn’t intend to because it was among the first few search results.
However, a third said they do not go past the first page of results when looking for a travel product.