In the case of Orbitz, the travel aggregator seems to be doing well, garnering about 83% of the traffic stemming from the keyword "orbitz." But what about the remaining 17%? Clearly, competitors like Travelocity and SmartFares are brand-jacking, snagging about 2% of the missing traffic each. "That's really pretty significant, since the user has probably started this search with an intent to go to the Orbitz site," he says. "All in all, you'd prefer to get 100% of that traffic if it's your brand we are talking about."
Digging further, Hitwise finds that bidding on competitor's terms is a clear part of SmartFare's strategy, as they garner nearly 5% of all of their site traffic from the Orbitz brand name--not to mention other brands like Cheap Tickets, Expedia, Travelocity and even Southwest Airlines.