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Search marketing insights: Bing Ads makes the holidays work for you

I may be a digital marketer but I must confess: I am French before all. As such, my summer holidays are close to sacrosanct, on par with the Tour de France, tartiflette and a good shrug. So as the warmer months close in, I like to stay on top of tourism trends, especially when they entail international travels…

As a matter of fact, due to the US dollar strength in recent months, travel operators and those in the hospitality industry are expecting an influx of American tourists gracing foreign climes this summer. According to Choice Hotels, the year started with a positive outlook for U.S. travellers because of low employment and petrol prices seeing the promise of 8% increase in leisure travel and a 5% increase in spend per trip. To help businesses capture this opportunity, my Bing Ads colleagues in the U.S. have compiled a comprehensive guide to the what, why and how in travel.

The 2015 Travel Tips deck hosted on SlideShare includes some stellar stats and trends they’ve uncovered from third parties and goes on to deliver some actionable PPC insight gleaned from hours of data mining across the Yahoo Bing Network by our Bing Ads research team. We are also hosting a webinar which will dig into the specifics of the European travel search habits and opportunities.

Here are some of my takeaways from the data we gathered on both sides of the pond:

Plan Campaigns Around Twin Peaks of Summer and Winter

Let’s start with the obvious: travel-related searches peak in time for summer and winter travel. June to August for summer and December to January for winter. Advertisers need to remember though, that searching starts before those peaks in the research and consideration phase of the purchase funnel.

This seasonal bias is particularly true for North America where the amount of holidays is limited and travel tends to be concentrated. In Europe however, we are seeing some hills raising between the peaks. These micro-trends are dictated by school calendars or by the desire for experience-seeking Millennials to optimise their time-off between two bank holidays. We can for instance see the months of April and March emerging as a new booking season, especially around short stays to sunny destinations.


OTA/Aggregators: Take advantage of high CTRs

The click-through-rate for all OTA/Aggregator related searches is massive! Bing Ads data shows it hovering between 11% and 16%. For smartphone searches, the CTR is even higher – between 14% and 19%. These high CTRs show consumers are happy to click on a travel ad especially if its ad copy is enticing, seasonal or has some kind of price-driver behind it.

With high CTR and low CPCs, OTA/Aggregator advertisers should consider bidding on their own brand terms in order to prevent losing mindshare and conversions to competitors bidding on theirs.

Some other research from Bing Ads on brand bidding has shown that bidding on one’s own brand terms results in higher click yield, along with a decrease in the click yield for competitor ads. In other words, brands get more clicks and keep competitors at bay. The research also found that bidding on the most prominent ad spot (“main line” or ML1) is particularly important for smaller advertisers.

Target Last-Minute Hotel Bookers

Astoundingly over 50% of searches on hotel mobile sites happen within a week of travellers actually showing up at the destination. Taking this into account marketers looking to reach these last-minute bookers should update campaigns and ad-copy to reflect price time-sensitivity or a speedy booking process to capture their attention above the competition.

Remember to Plan Multi-Device Campaigns

6 in 10 leisure travellers use search engines to plan their trips (eMarketer, Business Travel 2.0, Nov. 2014), and they plan, research and book travel across multiple devices. In the UK, 39% of the travel related queries are done on a tablet or a smartphone for instance. It’s critical that advertisers meet travel searchers wherever they are – whether that’s a PC at work, tablet at home, or smartphone on the road. Campaigns and ad copy can be tailored for PC/tablets and smartphones to engage consumers as they plan their vacation and research destinations and local attractions.

Get Ready for the Mobile Majority

The Yahoo Bing Network saw a 43% year-over-year increase in the number of smartphone searches related to Travel, and we expect that number to keep growing. With 58% of travel spending occurring during a trip, it’s important for local advertisers to have mobile ads ready to capture nearby travellers.

Adding Location and Call Extensions to your PPC ads will drive relevant traffic to your mobile (or mobile-friendly) website, storefront, or reservation line, allowing consumers to easily contact you to learn more or make a reservation.

Advertisers with mobile apps can also add App Extensions to encourage mobile travellers to install their apps. By optimising their mobile campaigns, advertisers will be able to target relevant audiences and better connect with leisure travellers.

Inspire travellers to stay longer

Americans often search for longer vacations than they book. And yet, the average American carried over 3.3 paid vacation days from 2014 to 2015. That’s $56.6 billion worth of paid vacation days!

Advertisers can use ad copy and length-based special offers to inspire travellers to stay longer and use an extra paid vacation day or two.


The peak for travel searches might be upon us but this research shows there are plenty of opportunities to capture the attention of travellers, not just before and as they purchase their ticket, but during their travels while they’re on the ground as well.

I’ll be bringing you more international search insights in a regular column here on State of Digital every month, so please don’t hesitate to ask me a question in the comments below or ping me on Twitter @CEDRICtus



Tasked with promoting Microsoft’s search marketing platform - Bing Ads – around the world, Cedric works closely with advertisers, from Blue Chip brands to small businesses, to help them develop effective online strategies which can boost their visibility with PPC, provide more targeted communication and deliver higher ROI.