October 10, 2017

Advertising Research Chart: Customer perception of what makes a travel ad effective, by age group


Media costs money. So to help you make sure you’re getting the best return from that media spend, this week we look at data for a specific industry: customer perception of what makes a travel ad effective, by age group.

Read on to see the chart (and grab it for your own presentations), along with analysis and commentary from MarketingSherpa and Wendy Olson Killion, Global Senior Director, Business Development, Expedia Media Solutions.

(As seen in the MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week newsletter. Click to get a free subscription to the latest research and case studies from MarketingSherpa.)

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute


In April 2017, Expedia Media Solutions surveyed 1,001 Americans who booked online travel in the past year and asked them …

How can ads help influence your decision-making process?

Younger generations think they want appealing deals from a travel ad …

Generation Z (18-23 years old), millennials (24-35) and Generation X (36-55) all chose “the deals advertised look appealing” as the biggest way ads influence their decision-making process. Millennials were slightly more likely to feel this way than other generations, with two-thirds (67%) choosing this response.

While using an incentive (like a deal) in your advertising could be a good way to get more clicks and more sales, use it with caution. Incentives should just be that extra little bit that tips a customer to purchase, or you can destroy your margins.

Natural variability in travel pricing based on supply and demand and discounts can help drive activity for a nonessential purchase like travel. But the best way to protect your margins is to have a strong value proposition and build a customer base focused on value rather than price shopping.

This is true for all industries, but Wendy Olson Killion, Global Senior Director, Business Development, Expedia Media Solutions, provided an idea from the travel industry to get you thinking.

“While deals and promotions are an effective marketing tool, they are not the only way to capture attention and convert potential shoppers. When asked to prioritize the factors that help them plan a trip, travelers across all generations said that activities and unique or ‘once-in-a-lifetime experiences’ were more important than price,” she said.

Here’s an example of adding unique value from The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s “Discover Your Aloha” campaign. The headline in the display ad offered “The trip of a lifetime, designed by you.”

When people clicked on the ad, they were taken to a microsite landing page that said, “Use your webcam and immerse yourself in the world of Hawai’i to create a personalized itinerary.”

Using a cutting-edge facial recognition platform that measured response to a video (for example, a smile), the microsite offered a recommended trip based on the site visitor’s facial responses.

Overall, the campaign resulted in a 115:1 return on ad spend (ROAS).

When looking to increase conversion on your ads, deals and other incentives are certainly a short-term fix. But consider what other ways you can add long-term value based on the needs of customers in your industry.

… Baby boomers think they want informative ads

While many boomers (55+) also want appealing deals (61%), the top response from this generation was “the content in the ad is informative.” (66%)

Informative ads can be a service to consumers, by presenting the data they need to make the best decision for them. So, think of questions your customer might have about the purchase or conversion decision, and how you can help them become more informed.

Here’s an example from the travel industry. “For hotel brands, informative content could include location such as proximity to public transportation, tourist attractions or other hotspots. It could also mean highlighting hotel room features or amenities such as a pool, gym, spa or free Wi-Fi,” Killion said.

Explore behavioral data and run experiments to discover what customers truly want

One note of caution on the data: As with any survey, it provides customers’ opinions of what they want. It is a good first step to understand overall trends of customer perception so you can better serve them. As Killion put it, “This is exactly why we do this research in the first place — to be customer-first marketers.”

But don’t stop at the data in this chart. Use it to spur new questions in your team about how your brand can best serve existing and prospective customers. Then dive into your customer data and conduct experiments with your customers to see what they truly want. In other words, use customer opinion to fuel further inquiries into customer behavior.

Sometimes, customers think they want something but act for reasons even they don’t understand.

Related resources

How to Improve Conversion of Your Online Ads

Display Advertising: 4 common mistakes marketers make with banner ads

Display Advertising: 3 basic questions every marketer should ask themselves about banner ads

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