A small group of online travel agents, including Booking.com, OnTheBeach.com and Trivago, dominated paid search in the first quarter of 2018, each spending over £7 million on search through Google, with Booking.com splashing out almost £20 million, according to new research released by Kantar Media.
The study – which uses data from Kantar Media’s Digital Advertising Intelligence Solution, combining insights on both pay-per-click (PPC) and organic search/display ad spend – also identified TripAdvisor as the clear leader when it came to organic search in the first three months of the year.
TripAdvisor saw over twice as many impressions and almost twice as many clicks as Lastminute.com, its nearest rival in the travel sector, with an estimated PPC value of over £120 million. Of the three biggest PPC spenders, only Booking.com features among the top six sites for organic search impressions.
Accommodation tops the keyword charts, but the battleground is for cheap holidays. ‘Hotels’ was the keyword with the highest spend during the three-month period, with businesses spending an estimated total of £8,504,262, over seven times more than on the next most invested-in keyword, ‘air bnb’.
Booking.com in particular made huge investments in hotel related search terms. The site’s top ten keywords for both spend and estimated PPC value in organic impressions all contained the word ‘hotel’ or ‘booking’, accounting for a total spend of around £4.8 million.
Outside of accommodation, the key battleground for PPC in the travel sector is around low-cost breaks. ‘Cheapest holidays’, ‘cheap holidays’ and ‘cheapest flights’ all feature among the 20 most sought-after travel related keywords, accounting for almost £2 million in spend between January and March this year. 21 separate advertisers were spending on the keyword ‘cheapest holidays’ and 19 on ‘cheap holidays’, making them some of the most competitive keywords in the industry. In comparison, for all the spend on ‘hotels’, the keyword was only contested by 14 advertisers.
Richard Poustie, CEO, Kantar Media UK, commented: “Both search and display advertising are incredibly competitive in the travel sector, especially in the first quarter of the year, and this is reflected in the huge investments brands make in this space. It’s important, therefore, to remember that spend in itself is only one part of the campaign – if brands want to get a good return on their advertising investment, it is vital that there is consistency across their online search and display, and that their chosen search terms complement their display advertising.
“In such a competitive space, being able to see what competitors are investing in – across both search and display – and to understand why, will help businesses tailor their own advertising strategy in order to stand out from the crowd and to continue to attract consumer spend.”