Tuesday, July 10, 2007

TV advertising is the new black?

Looks like other internet-based travel companies - who perhaps in the past would have turned their noses up at something as old media for offline marketing - have taken note of TravelSupermarket and its recent spending spree on TV advertising.

Hotels.com - the accommodation aggregator from the Expedia stable - is launching its first TV ad campaign in the UK this week.

A fairly hefty £3.5 million has been spent on the campaign and it follows its recent rebranding - new logo, look and feel of website, etc.

Although it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of TV and other offline marketing campaigns (Hotels.com will also be evangalising on radio), TravelSupermarket's recent rise up the Hitwise rankings does suggest shoving your brand in front of a nation's eyeballs night after night has an impact.

Whether those visits convert into referrals/bookings is another matter entirely. But clearly Travelsupermarket thought its £9 million so far this has been well spent.

But there does appear to be more offline advertising - but not press - being used by online travel companies, simply for branding. Think HotelClub, Expedia and what seems like every second bus in London from Lastminute.com.

So, why? Some points to consider:

  • 1) In a commoditised market like travel, branding is perhaps more important than ever?
  • 2) TV and billboard ad rates have come down as their market share of overall advertising spend has decreased?
  • 3) Pay-per-click is expensive/unreliable/congested/Long Tail keyword-buying too fiddly?
  • 4) Search engine optimisation is becoming rather pricey?
Food for thought. Answers in the comments section please...

Anyway, some grabs from the Hotels.com TV campaign:

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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Steve E said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with number 1. Brand is increasingly important in the fickle world of online travel. With the huge range of choices put in front of the average online shopper travel brands need to do everything to try and regain some lost loyalty (and to stand above the crowd).

Yes, online techniques are getting more expensive, more saturated and more complex as more entrants come into the market. However that all means that agencies who do those techniques well will become highly profitable over the coming months.

Integrated campaigns are where it's at. Tying in well executed offline experience with a well executed online one is what will define the winners (in my opinion of course).

Travolution Blogger said...

Steve E: Yes, specialists, we are hearing, are certainly becoming more expensive.

This probably does reflect their skills and the demand, but you do wonder how long it can continue.

One of our regular columnists, Paul Evans, wrote about his own experience here.