Half of US Online Travel Bookers Recall Seeing Ads During Path to Purchase

November 21, 2016

expediacomscore-online-travel-bookers-ad-recall-nov2016Travel advertising gets the attention of a sizable share of online travel bookers in the US, Canada and the UK, according to an Expedia Media Solutions study [download page] that surveyed more than 2,400 adults who had booked travel online within the prior 6 months. In fact, some 47% of respondents in the US recalled seeing a travel ad while shopping for or booking travel. That figure trailed the corresponding results in the UK and Canada, where 59% and 64%, respectively, reported noticing travel-related ads during their path to purchase.

The study demonstrates that advertising likely has its biggest influence on the initial stages of the purchase journey, as those who had noticed ads for various travel-related services were much more likely to have done so when first starting their research than right before booking. For example, among those who had noticed advertising related to air travel, about two-thirds (66%) noticed the ads when beginning their research, as opposed to to 19% who noticed ads right before booking.

These ads can also have an influence on destination decisions, per the report: among those who were considering multiple locations, more than one-quarter in the US and more than one-third in Canada said that advertising influenced their decision to visit their final destination.

Search ads would likely be among the more influential forms, given separate results from the study that show search engines being most commonly used at the beginning of trip planning, when respondents were just getting started and looking for inspiration. As respondents narrow options and move into the consideration stage, the use of search engines recedes while OTAs, airline sites and hotel sites become more prominent, a fairly logical result.

This progression appears to be supported by a Google/TNS survey of US travelers released earlier this year, which found respondents saying that search is the most common way by which they find the brand they ultimately book with during the planning phase.

Meanwhile, travel site visits become more numerous the closer the traveler comes to booking time, per comScore data included in the Expedia Media Solutions report. That means that travel content can have impact, and the study does show that between 60% (in the US) and 75% (in the UK) of online adults consume travel content. Time spent with digital travel content is increasing across the 3 markets analyzed, most noticeably in the US (41% rise year-over-year) and the UK (44% increase). Not too surprisingly, travel content engagement is rising on mobile devices and shrinking on desktops, with more minutes spent on mobile devices than on desktops in the US.

About the Data: The results are based in part on a survey of adults (18+) in the US (805), UK (817) and Canada (815) who had booked travel online within the past 6 months. The survey was fielded March 14-23, 2016.

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