Marketers Up Search Efforts For Travel Media

As summer months spark a heightened consumer interest in travel, marketers respond by stepping up market-related strategies in search engine and programmatic display media.

Key findings from the RBC Capital Markets Q2:13 "RBC T.O.T.A.L." study suggest that discount hotel room sales in the U.S. have become more competitive. U.K. paid results show movement during the past few quarters, with search activity shifting from expedia.com to hotels.com.

The study also shows organic search results stabilizing across Expedia properties, both domestic and international. U.S. paid hotel results for expedia.com and hotels.com showed improvements, while hotwire.com only had a moderate increase.

Priceline maintained stable results, although U.K. paid search for the hotel sector showed improved strength. Orbitz rebounded through paid-search campaigns after several quarters of decline. Our sample showed a gap in Kayak U.S. paid-search results shortly after the acquisition by Priceline closed in May -- possibly indicating a change in the company's marketing approach, according to the RBC report.

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Google launched Flight Search, and then in late 2012, added features that allowed consumers to quickly compare multiple destinations and multiple days simultaneously, using live prices, with its recently introduced experimental feature called Flight Explorer.

Travel search in 2013 will change, basically because baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 account for nearly 80% of leisure travel spending, estimates Nielsen. The research firm calls this demographic the wealthiest generation, which controls 70% of disposable income in the U.S.

This generation will use mobile devices to search for travel information. Overall in the U.K., one in three consumers will search for travel information on their mobile phone before making reservations, according to research from xAd and Telmetrics. While the study shows nearly half of U.K. mobile consumers will ultimately make a purchase, 53% of tablet searchers looking to travel report making a purchase, compared with 41% of those on a smartphone.

Search engine marketing isn't the only media that is reaching consumers looking to travel. In the U.S., programmatic display buying continues to rack up impressive impressions, showing in Q2 for travel a heightened interest. IgnitionOne in Q2 saw  display ad metrics of 156% for travel. The average clearing price was more than two dollars, with travel at approximately $2.41 per impression.

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