TripAdvisor reported $458 million in revenue for the third quarter of 2018, with the hotel segment declining 2% from the year-ago quarter. The company said earnings were boosted by its growing non-hotel business, such as restaurants and vacation rentals.
The decline in advertising dollars spent on Google and on television advertising may have helped to boost revenue for the quarter. “We've more or less been able to drive the same number, the same amount of revenue with a lot less advertising,” said Ernst Teunissen, TripAdvisor CFO, during the earnings call.
He said the company reduced direct selling and marketing costs during the third quarter of 2018, compared with the prior year, by $45 million.
When analysts asked for an update on search engine optimization and paid search for the hotel and non-hotel businesses, such as restaurants and vacation rentals, Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor CEO, said “we never give specific commentary on the SEO, but we are certainly always watching and noting how Google is interrupting the search results with their own products, and we continue to point out that that's not particularly fair for a dominant search engine to do, but accepting it as a reality in several countries and all of our modeling takes that into account.”
Paid search has always been a major advertising channel for TripAdvisor, but the company has been focusing more on its restaurants and vacation rentals.
TripAdvisor also uses Google Hotel price ads to help support the site’s 490 million average monthly unique visitors, of which mobile represents 60%. The site boasts about 701 million reviews and opinions, 2.1 million accommodations, and 4.9 million restaurant listings.
The amount spent on television advertising also declined by $7 million in the quarter compared with the year-ago quarter.
The company attributes the decline to a TV campaign that launched in June 2017, which gave the company a full year of ad spend and resulted in the third quarter being a little lower.
TripAdvisor is on track to spend the $100 million to $130 million on television advertising this year. Next year the budget could be higher, but no decision has been made.