“Half of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half,” is the famous quote from decades ago by Philadelphia department store owner John Wannamaker.
That sentiment is still relevant today, particularly in the “mid-funnel”, or how travelers behave in-between when they first start looking for inspiration and when they type in their credit card number for a booking.
On November 18 Expedia Media Solutions, the advertising arm of the tech giant, cast a little bit more light on this murky research area for travel marketers in a new Traveler Attribution Study presented at the Phocuswright Conference in Florida.
The company partnered with MillwardBrown Digital, an agency, to collect 75 million instances of clickstream data in the travel website ecosystem 45 days prior to hotel and flight bookings. The goal was to isolate where users started their trip research and how their interaction with key touch points influenced where they transacted.
The focus was not on search versus non-search behavior, but instead on how travel sites — like online travel agencies (OTAs), metasearch sites, and supplier sites — play together in affecting traveler decisions.
Some consumers prefer to cross-check rates with OTAs even if they have a preference for ultimately booking with a supplier. As these consumers try to feel more confident about booking direct with a supplier, they may visit an OTA for a little bit more context.
Many marketers fear that OTA visit. Their inclination is to try to use marketing to steal back share from the OTAs.
But a different way of looking at this purchase path activity, argues Expedia Media Solutions, is that this particular type of consumer prefers to book direct with a supplier, yet needs more confidence before making a decision to book.
The issue then becomes making sure that a brand gets its “fair share” of bookings — and that the customers who prefer to book direct aren’t lost to another supplier’s site.
For instance, let’s say a consumer starts their trip research at Marriott.com. How can you make sure they make they are booking direct through that site and don’t end up booking through Hilton.com instead?
To keep a fair share of supplier-direct business, marketers may choose to buy advertising products on an OTA that helps shoppers feel more confident to book direct.