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Buckle up travel and hospitality marketers: Four key insights to help brands’ advertising campaigns take flight

By Tanzil Bukhari, Managing Director, EMEA at DoubleVerify

While every industry has been rocked by the pandemic, few have been more impacted than the travel and hospitality sector. Lockdowns and travel restrictions dropped hotel occupancies in Europe by 90 per cent and flights by 80 per cent in May 2020, compared with the previous year. 

With vaccines at their peak rollout and the majority of restrictions lifted, particularly in the UK, many consumers are starting to attend live events or taking a much needed holiday either within the UK or abroad. In fact, TUI reported that bookings for foreign trips jumped 500 per cent overnight following the unveiling of the ‘out of lockdown’ roadmap earlier this year. A Department of Transport study also revealed that companies expect an average of 38 per cent of employees to be travelling for business; almost up to pre-pandemic levels of 40 per cent. 

With recovery firmly on the horizon, marketers must consider how to best support travel and hospitality brands who are ramping up media activity as the advertising landscape has changed when it comes to re-engaging consumers and building and maintaining their trust. Tanzil Bukhari, Managing Director EMEA at DoubleVerify provides four insights to help travel and hospitality brands drive the most performance and value from campaigns in the year ahead as they set out on the road to recovery.

1. Embrace consumers’ appetite for content, but look to video and don’t rely on one channel 

According to our global study, online content consumption has skyrocketed with the average consumer spending an additional 3 hours 7 minutes each day viewing content during the pandemic, doubling overall digital content consumption versus the previous year. The most significant increases are across social media and connected TV (CTV), with nearly one in two (48%) spending more time on social platforms and 44 per cent using CTV devices more.

Marketers must therefore encourage travel and hospitality brands to look towards these channels to advertise on in order to find and engage with their audiences. CTV and social are key in the travel sector, given they are a natural home for video content, which 65 per cent of consumers rely on when booking a trip. They will also provide bang for buck as our recent Global Insights Report (GIR) revealed the smallest and largest screens drive video growth as the CTV video impressions DV measures increased 87 per cent in volume YoY and Mobile Web Video impressions increased 104 per cent in volume YoY across the globe.

2. Tackle fraud to prevent ad spend going down the drain

Our research found EMEA has the highest overall fraud rate that is driven by data centre traffic in which fraudsters may spoof server-side ad insertion inventory. Fraud continues to be a concern for digital advertisers, and worryingly, the travel and hospitality industry is a particular target. We found a 20 per cent higher post-bid fraud rate for travel and hospitality advertisers compared with all other major industries between January 2020 and January 2021, as highlighted in our new Hospitality and Travel Guide.

One of the biggest drivers of these fraud rates is bot fraud—which imitates legitimate traffic, inflating overall impression volumes. In fact, bots perpetrated more than two-thirds of the overall video fraud across travel and hospitality—the highest rate of all verticals.

To combat fraud, travel and hospitality brands cannot rely on premium media placements alone. This is why industry partnerships are crucial, for example an objective third-party can help verify, detect and protect against all manner of fraud within their media buys such as identifying Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT). That way, brands can secure better ROI, see the wood from the trees and know how their campaign is actually performing—without fraud blurring the lines.

3. While consumers are open to new ads, brand suitability needs consideration

Our global study also found that 44 per cent of consumers have tried a new brand due to spotting a relevant ad during the pandemic. However, while consumers are open to new experiences, brand safety and suitability has also transformed in the past year. In fact our research revealed EMEA has the highest brand suitability violation rate (in which ads are either served or blocked from being served alongside unsuitable content) at just below 10%.

Brands are therefore demanding greater nuance in how they apply brand safety settings, and want to ensure they balance protection with their desire to scale. As a result, verification providers have increased the sophistication levels of their tools to offer greater granularity, and to give advertisers the opportunity to select the sites, apps, sections and even individual pages they are comfortable running ads on, thereby ensuring ads appear alongside relevant, safe, content. 

Brand suitability is a significant concern for travel and hospitality brands as our data showed that compared with the average rate seen across other verticals, travel advertisers saw an 82 per cent higher brand suitability violation rate than other verticals between January 2020 and January 2021. Even with stringent brand safety and suitability settings in place, having strong protection is especially crucial for those brands that are catering to younger audiences and families. 

Nuanced brand suitability strategies are therefore more vital than ever to maintain brand equity while driving opportunities to connect with audiences. Implementing a best-practice brand suitability profile and leveraging brand safety tools, such as inclusion/exclusion lists, semantic category avoidance, custom brand categories, keyword lists and exceptions can enable scale without sacrificing safety. They can even eliminate spend on blocked impressions: one well-known hospitality brand that leveraged DV’s programmatic solution saw an 80 per cent decrease in their overall block rate, saving around 15 per cent in media budget by avoiding non-brand safe inventory pre-bid. 

4. Be privacy-friendly by considering contextual targeting 

As a result of a shifting regulatory landscape and heightened scrutiny on privacy practices, advertisers in all sectors—including travel and hospitality—are demanding a privacy-friendly approach to targeting and measurement. There are several solutions being advanced by ad tech providers—from cohorts to universal ad IDs. 

One such solution is contextual targeting, which looks to place ads alongside relevant content rather than target based on individual preferences. With 69 per cent of consumers more likely to look at an ad if it is relevant to the content they’re reading, contextual targeting may be a great way to reach consumers looking to book their next getaway. 

With today’s semantic science technology, contextual targeting goes beyond keyword analysis, allowing brands to reach in-market audiences with timely and relevant ads. It does this by classifying the contextual meaning of content at the page level, and placing this into industry-standardised categories as well as seasonal, in-market and dynamic segments. For example, this enables a travel brand to choose from categories like “Summer Holidays,” “Travel Tips,” “Road Trips,” and much more—keeping ads relevant, without the need for consumer data.

With consumers looking for winter getaways this year, and even looking ahead to summer 2022, it’s time for marketers to work with brands’ to meet the pent-up demand for travel and event content from new and existing audiences. 

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