June 3, 2013, 2:31 PM

The travel industry spends less on search marketing

Yet more travel marketers are using paid search, AdGooroo says.

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Paid search spending for travel products and services in the United States has dropped about 19% so far this year, to $238 million, according to AdGooroo. The Kantar Media-owned research firm based its findings on paid search spend from January through April via Google Inc.’s AdWords, the search engine’s main paid search product.

The most recent spending estimate reflects a general decrease in paid search spending for the travel industry, says Gregg Hamilton, AdGooroo’s senior vice president of research, analytics and business development, in a blog posting. From January through April 2012, for instance, that spending declined 6% year over year; from May through August 2012, paid search spending for the travel industry dropped about 15% year over year.

The decline comes as more travel marketers use paid search to reach online shoppers, AdGooroo says. It finds that 228 marketers did so in the first quarter of 2013, up 5% from 217 in the first quarter of 2012.

AdGooroo proposes two reasons for the decline in paid search spending. First, travel sites could be doing a better job of gaining the loyalty of online shoppers, who then directly revisit the sites they like instead of clicking on paid search ads. Second, the introduction in recent years of Google Flight Search and Google Hotel Finder “may be poaching large amounts of click-through traffic,” Hamilton writes. Google offered no immediate comment.

The AdGooroo report finds that the following companies commanded the top five spots in U.S. paid search last year. (Google defines a paid search impression as every time an ad is show to a consumer.)

• Kayak.com, 883 million impressions

• Priceline.com, 699 million impressions

• Orbitz.com, 670 million impressions

• Tripadvisor.com, 663 million impressions

• Cheapoair.com, 629 million impressions

“Interestingly, the category is led by Kayak.com, a company that just a few short years ago seemed to occupy the status of ‘best kept secret’ among those in the know on travel deals,” Hamilton writes.

The following are the top 10 paid search keywords related to travel for the 2013 January-through-April period, according to AdGooroo:

• Enterprise

• Cheap flights

• Hotels

• Travelocity

• Cheap tickets

• Southwest

• Cruises

• Disney World

• Southwest Airlines

• Cheaptickets


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