Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why travel companies need to be clever with Facebook

Seth Godin highlights how Hotmail doesn't make any money because users do not want to click on ads when they are checking their emails. Simple.

The same applies for Facebook.

Why would members want to visit the websites of advertisers on Facebook when all they are there to do is network with friends.

So in the midst of the Facebook frenzy, where many commentators have urged travel companies to embrace Facebook as a way of reaching highly engaged consumers, careful thought is needed.

Use groups, profiles, widgets - but avoid advertising on it.


Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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Anonymous said...

Two (perhaps) not entirely compatible comments. 1) The Facebookie may not click on the ad, but it can still make an impression. Consider the new feelfootball.com (supported by a certain WCM technology vendor). It follows current best-practices for corporate sponsorship of community sites precisely by *minimizing* the sponsor's presence. Even if they wanted to, no one is going to click on the Ford ads while chatting about football *because there aren't any ads to click on.* Similary, a Jumeirah ad placed to the properly targeted Facebookie doesn't need to compel immediate action.
2) At the recent Travolution Summit Jilly Welch from Fortune Cookie began with a quote from "usability guru" Jacob Nielsen. I recently saw Nielsen at a Gartner event in Las Vegas, where he reveled eye motion studies showing that web users increasing *don't look at* advertisements. Someone asked him how they can know to avoid them as ads if they don't look at them. He responded that they apprehend them in peripheral vision and subsequently avoid looking at them. This finding is pretty bad news for online display advertising of any kind. But it also suggests that it's all the more important for the any displayed ad to be *extremely relevant* to the viewer, and therefore more likely to overcome the initial resistance.

Tim Walters,

Philip Caines said...

I agree completely, this comes down to basic sales psychology; you don't interrupt someones conversation with friends to sell them a new travel deal. I touched on the Facebook Commercialization the other day:

Darren Cronian said...

I can't remember the last time I clicked on a banner on Facebook, so I'd have to agree that groups, applications, and profiles are the way to go.

Kev, what kind of traffic does the Travolution group refer to the site or blog?

For the period 1 May - 31 October I have received only 77 referrals from Facebook, via a group which has not yet taken off, with only 94 members.

Looking forward to networking the group to attract more travellers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,

I think that the Facebook (and soon MySpace /Bebo) potential is huge if its not looked at in the traditional sense.

Current ad's pointing to an external site to book flights and hotels are just not going to cut it.

What is needed is a way to combine travel with the ability to share the experiance with friends.

Next month we bring out a Facebook application that lets you book flights / hotels while on Facebook and share the trip with your friends.

This can be done without the need to leave Facebook, so you can carry on chatting to friends while booking.

When the trip is booked you can automatically send friends a notification of the trip and a couple of clicks and they have booked it too.

If they have our mobile software it automatically updates with the trip and vice versa, so a flight booked using your mobile will update Facebook (if the user wants it to).

All bookings, no matter what the booking medium, can be managed via the ShopQwik website.

Mark Tynan

Darren Cronian said...

Slighly off-topic.


I'm a regular user of Facebook, and the applications I use and like are the ones where you can share trip info, photos and videos with other members.

I doubt [this is my personal opinion mind] that travel consumers would want to search and book a holiday through a FB application.

I'd take a guess [no survey undertaken to confirm this] but most consumers nowadays want to use the likes of Trip advisor, Travel Supermarket, and Google to help them search for their holiday.

It'll be interesting to see the results of your application when it's live.


Anonymous said...


You may well be right! It's not so much the holiday market we are aiming for, more the weekend break or business trip.

We feel that for groups of people, one of the barriers to booking trips (by which I mean seperate flight and hotel) is that you need everyone together to pay or someone has to pay for a number of people and then chase people for money.

This way you can create a trip by booking a flight and/or hotel and give it a name. You can then select who you want to notify and they can click the received nofitication to book in seconds.

The service will have almost all of the airlines that TravelSupermarket and Trip Advisor cover plus all of the European, American and Australian budget airlines too.

So hopefully it will be a case of book a weekend trip to Dublin with Ryanair on Facebook with five of your friends...

netwiz said...

There's a broader question about ads. People typically don't go to websites looking for ads. So what about ads on travel sites? What about internal ads, advertising deals on the site? There's growing debate over banner blindness, where users literally don't 'see' ads. So is the trick therefore to make ads look like content? And in some cases, are we guilty of making content look like ads?

Darren Cronian said...

Mark, now you put it like that I agree that an application of this type would be useful.

Netwiz, companies are paying more for advertising on the internet than newspapers and magazines, but I think consumers are much more internet saavy now.

Will this have a negative impact in the coming years, with companies paying big amounts of cash, but not receiving the same amount of traffic they might have received 5 years ago.

Luxury Travel said...

One area where I think both Facebook and Hotmail could improve their advertisements enormously is with relevancy.

Why, when I'm playing chess on Facebook, do I get an ad for finding a cheap mortgage? Why not some pertinent ads relating to chess...?

Of course, this is just one of countless examples - think how much more revenue they would generate if they just improved relevancy.


Darren said...

Paul, good point.

It would avoid the embarrassing scenario where a companies banner is displayed on a 'dodgy' FB group or profile.

simondance said...

I don't think one can simply strike off social media market just because of what users might or might not do with the ads on Hotmail. People have grown up with Hotmail and it’s continuous banner ads, msn ads and in-email promotions, whilst social networks are something new. A personal space for users, a lot like a bedroom wall full of posters.

I've posted before about the rich content within networks including Facebook that might discourage users from clicking on the ads, but that doesn't mean that they don't see them (referring to brand awareness).
What's more, with the introduction of Facebook pro flyers, which are sold on a cost per click basis, as opposed to CPM you only, pay for the clicks you get.

But, I of course don't believe these are right for every company's campaign, and certainly caution should be exercised. Getting clever with Facebook is something travel companies can and should be embracing, whether it be groups, competitions, applications and, to some expect, flyers, providing their are tied into a specific Facebook group promotion.

Also, with regard to what was said about banners being displayed on 'dodgy' FB groups or profile. This, unfortunately is due to the somewhat untargeted nature of Facebook flyers, which are no where near as engineers as Google's PPC software.

In addition, I am confident that the consumer is savvy enough to disassociate an advertiser from a specific page - due to the previous press coverage, and, when considering SME budgets and guerrilla marketing, the press interest generated from the whole BNP Facebook ad placement was priceless!

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