By Enrique Fernández, EMEA sales director at AffiliRed
All the signs indicate that consumers will continue to spend more online in travel, with the impact of the smartphone and tablets playing an even bigger part in this industry’s growth. Performance marketing is, without doubt, looking very healthy indeed.
However, we cannot afford to be complacent. Now is the time to take stock and ensure the performance marketing leads the way in digital marketing.
Tracking consumers’ paths will be crucial to the development of this industry, especially integrating on and offline traffic.
As well as mobile, platforms including social, video and offline (such as pay per call) will be embraced by the travel industry so advertisers will need to track the variety of paths a consumer may take to make a purchase.
Throw local affiliate marketing into the mix and you can see why understanding the user journey and their conversion is critical.
So, gathering and understanding data will be an area that performance marketing will need to develop. Having the data to understand how the customer first began their engagement with the brand and where they ended it will be key.
Advertisers will need to know what advertising medium consumers were influenced by and to what extent and at what point in the purchasing decision.
Was it checking out a promotion on their smartphone, watching a video of a new hotel resort or participating in a social forum? Or was it, in fact, all of the above?
Then there is pricing. Performance marketing will undoubtedly continue to embrace the traditional pricing models such as CPA, but the jury is still out regarding the CPV model.
Google tried it after acquiring YouTube but have since stopped using this method - probably because it wasn't feasible.
I don't think the industry will be implementing an attribution model anytime soon either because if we want fairness for every channel a prior agreement is needed across all of them.
If that doesn’t happen then the vulnerable channels will be hardest hit and that’s not right.
So, there’s still some work to be done here.
However, what I am sure about is that merchants will demand a greater understanding of the shopping process and how users interact with brands across different channels, not only for attribution purposes but to continuously improve advertising and communication strategies, as well as developing their products.
Technology needs to develop so that advertisers can gather data for all interactions and decide if each channel is providing a good return or not.
This is crucial for all types of online marketing since not all campaigns are focused on increasing sales, but are loyalty-oriented or aiming to grow certain markets.
This kind of data will allow advertisers to manage their budget accurately, with presentable metrics that prove the return-on-investment. The performance marketing industry needs to have the technology in place to support these variable cost models.
For our particular area of expertise, the travel industry, the development of performance marketing will depend on advertisers agreeing to certain standards being implemented, such as an integration protocol with OTAs.
This is coupled with the development of tools designed to ease distribution and allow access to new marketing channels such as metasearch – currently not accessible to medium or small advertisers.
Get this right and we have a very healthy future for this very competitive industry.