Search marketing is increasingly seen as the essential rather than the sexy side of online advertising. Indeed, much of the hype about online advertising these days centres on Web 2.0.
However, while websites have evolved to introduce new opportunities for travel advertisers, so has search marketing – and some have dubbed this phenomenon Search Marketing 3.0.
Search Marketing 3.0 introduces much functionality that I believe will be essential for travel marketers in the future. This article addresses six that I recommend all travel marketers incorporate into their search campaigns to ensure they continue to maximise return on investment and stay ahead of their competition.
With 90% of travel purchases occurring after the initial session and 45% more than four weeks later, according to ComScore research from March 2006, it’s no surprise that cookie length and the need to track consumer activity across a long time period is a recurring theme in the travel industry. A new feature called Assists, tackles precisely this issue. It shows how search ads drive both immediate and deferred conversions across multiple campaigns – not just the last click that led to a conversion.
To complement this, an additional feature, called Ad Testing, gives advertisers the ability to test multiple versions of ads to determine the highest performing and opt to display these more frequently.
As you can see, this new style of search marketing is driven by the business objectives of the advertiser – and gives travel marketers the ability to act more like marketers than just keyword buyers. Additional features that support this ability include:
Share of Clicks Forecasting: which reveals the bid needed to achieve an estimated specific share of expected clicks throughout the coming month.
Goal-Based Optimisation: finds the least expensive way to meet cost per acquisition or return on ad spend goals.
Enhanced Geographic Targeting: allows advertisers to target specific regional audiences. With a 9% year-on-year increase in the number of travellers using UK regional airports (representing 43% of all air passengers, according to the Civil Aviation Authority in 2005) the ability to target consumers according to their local departure airport is not to be underestimated.
Fast Ad Activation: allows greater responsiveness for promotions and special offers, removing discrepancies between advertised and available prices. With the ability to launch most new ad campaigns in minutes and set automatic termination dates, advertisers will receive first-to-market advantages and see more immediate results.
An obvious benefit of all these features is that they have the ability to cater equally for travel advertisers of all sizes.
Search Marketing 3.0 is also built with the future in mind. This becomes particularly exciting as the technology develops to handle marketing campaigns covering not just keyword listings but also video, mobile and graphical ad formats across multiple distribution channels. It goes without saying what benefits could be derived from being able to manage multiple forms of marketing activity from a single intuitive interface.
Additionally, quality and relevancy are now the driving force behind Search Marketing 3.0 – with click-through rate a major factor in determining a search listing’s ranking. So, advertisers who focus on highly relevant, attractive marketing campaigns and invest in a high-quality website can be rewarded with a lower PPC and therefore a better return on investment.
Ultimately Search Marketing 3.0 offers the consumer a world where advertisers not only have the tools to serve them the most relevant information in the most appealing format across a range of channels, but they are also incentivised to do so.
Tracey Cheffey is category director for travel at Yahoo! Search Marketing