Jack Kerouac is Alive and Well With Programmatic Travel Advertising (PTA)

Jack Kerouac said, “The road is life!” Now programmatic is the life of digital media enthusiasts, and the travel industry is embracing it. Kerouac often asked, “What’s in store for me in the direction I do not take?” In travel, the answer is that publishers, agencies and clients who do not embrace programmatic are getting left behind.

The digital travel marketplace expects to invest and spend well over double digits in programmatic, per PhoCusWright. This sector will represent a huge share of the $32 billion marketplace Magna Global predicted by 2017. The airlines, car rental, cruise lines, hotels, rail and travel packagers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia are among some of the strongest brands and in-depth digital marketers, per Interbrand.

There are four areas in which the travel programmatic industry differs from others industries. Travel marketers need: 1) exclusivity; 2) mobile video and the richest media; 3) hyperlocal and data intensive; 4) advertisers as publishers / publishers as advertisers.



The largest spenders in the travel industry have embraced brands, publishers and start-ups that offer exclusivity, private exchanges and programmatic direct with competitive advantages. The travel industry believes in the scarcity principle. If one airline or hotel gets your business, all the others miss out. Travel has demanded viewablity in RFPs, rebates based on programmatic spending levels and competitive blocks like no other industry. Exclusivity in this industry begets loyalty, ad spend and time, which yields great partnerships and innovation.

Travel advertisers and agencies have pushed the envelope and demand programmatic mobile video with the richest media and data from trading desks. Some of the world’s best creative and video are in the travel industry. These executives are able to wake up the Jack Kerouac wanderlust in all of us. Travel logs, reviews and photography can describe our bucket list trips and locations, but the spirit of a trip is best expressed in a video and extremely rich media (think GoPro). Travel advertisers are getting what they want from the programmatic industry due to their ability to justify and spend much higher CPMs. They do this because they understand the branding value, as well as DR performance. The travel industry pays the most and invests for the most in amazing creativity and multimedia for the mobile consumer on the road.

The travel industry has been pushing hyperlocal at scale in the programmatic marketing place with very tight DMA purchasing (Zip +). The industry is asking digital publishers, portals and endemic travel sites to make first-party data actionable and third-party data available to buy against insights and trends programmatically.

Some of the best advertisers in travel are also some of the leading publishers.  The travel industry eats its own dog food. They buy and sell programmatically, which gives this group a unique advantage in programmatic direct, private exchanges, affiliate sales partners, as well as endemic technology development.  Expect some of the best buying and selling innovations to come from the travel digital executives -- not Detroit, CPG in the Midwest or global retailers. These travel brands understand online buying experiences, as well as branding and performance advertising. The travel industry can put butts in seats, heads in beds and build brands like no other, and is doing so programmatically.

As Kerouac said, “One day I will find the right words and they will be simple.” Travel is finding programmatic and simplifying it for its complicated needs.

1 comment about "Jack Kerouac is Alive and Well With Programmatic Travel Advertising (PTA)".
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  1. James Keyes from RTB International, May 1, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.

    Great article Skip! I nearly spit my coffee all over my laptop at your, "they eat their own dog food" comment! :)

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