With peak vacation season upon us, a new Millennial Media study takes a closer look at mobile advertising in the travel sector. Travel was the third-largest ad category on Millennial's network through the first quarter in terms of spending, after telecom and finance. It was also the third-fastest-growing segment in the last year -- behind sports and news, with 200% growth.
Booking agents and sites accounted for more than half (57%) of the spending, with hotels and resorts a distant second, at 18%, followed by airlines (11%), tourist attractions and destinations (9%), regional transit (3%) and rental cars (2%).
The bulk of campaigns were aimed at sustaining an in-market presence (62%), followed by driving traffic to mobile sites (16%), registrations (11%), brand awareness (9%) and increased foot traffic (2%).
The study also highlighted related findings from eMarketer showing that people remain active on mobile devices while on vacation. Almost everyone (85%) with smartphones or tablets uses their devices to check personal email, while about two-thirds use GPS and maps, and keep in touch with people back home. Nearly as many (62%) search for local restaurants and attractions, and 58% post photos or status updates to social media.
The results suggest that marketers have an opportunity to upsell mobile consumers while they're on vacation. But for the most part, mobile advertisers are trying to reach business travelers. Marketers on Millennial's network were three times more likely to be targeting road warriors than vacationers.
App downloads are typically the most common type of post-click action advertisers try to drive through mobile ads, with 42% of campaigns on the network, including an app download option. That feature is even more prevalent in travel-related campaigns, the majority (59%) of which push app downloads.
“With 16 million consumers booking travel on their mobile devices, and 36 million researching travel options, travel brands have good reason for wanting a persistent presence on consumers’ mobile devices,” stated the report, citing eMarketer research from April. Travel advertisers want to put research and booking tools via their apps at users' fingertips when they begin planning business trips or vacations.
Among other findings, Millennial pointed to comScore data indicating that 29% of those who have made a purchase on their smartphone have booked hotel rooms, and 24% each have ordered car rentals or bought airline tickets directly from their devices.
Travel advertisers on the mobile ad network have included JetBlue Airways and Westin Hotels & Resorts.