Expedia Group Latest To Dive Into Retail Media

Expedia partnered with Canada for a docu-series.

Over 200 retailers have already staked claims in the media network business, but that isn’t stopping latecomer Expedia. The travel giant believes that with first-party data and a travel-loving audience, it offers advertisers something different, both on and off its owned sites. Jennifer Andre, vice president of business development, Expedia Media Group Solutions, and Rob Torres, senior vice president of media and affiliate solutions, explain.

Marketing Daily: Over the last several years, retailers have launched hundreds of retail media networks, and observers are taking bets on the inevitable shakeout. How will you stand out?

Rob Torres: Those networks aren’t related to travel. And we’ve been offering advertising on our operated sites for 20-plus years. We’re finally bringing it all together and hope to build the world's leading travel media network. We’ll help brands reach an ideal travel audience on our owned-and-operated sites and offsite. We can find those customers, whether on social channels, connected TV, billboards or video. And we’ll appeal beyond the airlines, hotels and other travel advertisers we currently work with, to non-endemic advertisers.



Jennifer Andre: Our goal is to provide an additive experience for the consumer. Everything we do is connecting the dots using our first-party data to help the advertiser meet the traveler -- but also help the traveler make the best choice for them, whether it’s a destination, finding the right hotel or a bathing suit for their trip.

Marketing Daily: Consumers are increasingly hostile to advertising and want online interactions that work with fewer clicks. They often don’t want to “engage” with “content” -- they want to avoid ads. How do you balance the needs of advertisers who want people to spend more time on their ads and consumers who want the opposite?

Andre: One of my favorite examples is destination research. Most travelers do not have a destination in mind when visiting our sites. We’re not going to spray-and-pray, matching a traveler with a destination they may not even consider. But because our data tells us this person has searched for Jamaica, we know you may be looking for a Caribbean vacation. That’s a great place for advertisers to come in and tell their stories.

Marketing Daily: Got a specific example?

Andre: Destination Canada is one of our big partners, and we helped them create a “Where To Canada?” campaign that’s a docu-series. It’s beautiful. And we’ve helped distribute it in a way that gets to the right customer at the right time, using our data. We know who and when will be receptive to it, and it’s driving an 18% increase in bookings to Canada and a 12% increase in average spend per booking.

Marketing Daily: Who makes the decisions, balancing “good for advertisers” versus “good for consumers” on each page?

Torres: The whole brand team is responsible for making sure we're developing experiences that make you want to come back. You come back because what you’ve found is so relevant you can buy it in two clicks, if you know exactly what you want. Or maybe you don’t know yet, and we can provide a different search experience. AI is helping us get better at those personalized search experiences, and we’re applying that same technology to our advertising. The two can come together.

Marketing Daily: How have the mechanics of the launch worked? How much of a tech investment have you made?

Torres: We're building our tech stack. We’re building an order-management system that is a unified ad platform. Ideally, we want to be able to connect through an API or directly connect to any publisher or partner that we think makes sense, connecting all the dots. One of the plusses of entering the field later is that we've learned from others and hired some people who built other networks.

Marketing Daily: What was the spark for launching now when you’ve been building these capabilities for some time?

Andre: To make it easier for our advertisers, now that they can have everything all in one place and find those travelers across the path to purchase. We can now tie this all together with comprehensive reporting. We can give advertisers a holistic view of their campaign’s performance, down to click-through rates and actual bookings.

Marketing Daily: How does all this fit into the larger organization? Whom do you report to?

Torres: We report to the chief commercial officer. Revenue is key.

Marketing Daily: Some say the rapid growth of retail media networks -- especially at Amazon and Walmart Connect -- leads to unrealistic C-suite expectations. Do you agree?

Torres: We've always looked at our advertising business as helping our advertisers grow their businesses. That hasn’t changed. They want to come to us because they can find the audience that they are looking for, with the best return on ad spend.

Jennifer and I are held accountable as we continue to roll out new products and services for these ad partners. So combined, it's raising all tides, which will be the true testament to how we do here and the overall business.

Marketing Daily: Where else do you see growth?

Andre: Expanding our B2B network. Expedia has a huge business of powering other brands’ sites, including airlines, financial services and corporate travel agencies.

We’ve more than 60,000 B2B partners, many in Asia/Pacific. It’s an opportunity to expand our media externalization into areas like social media, creating shoppable content on those channels. That's exciting. We need to ensure we are showing up with the right advertising supply to meet global demand.

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