State of the Industry Conversations

After a bit of a delay, State of the Industry Conversations returns with an answer (one, among several) to a previous guest question.

For all of those who missed the original post:


We have been experimenting and optimizing our online campaigns, but are repeatedly disappointed in the click through rates (.01% to .5%) and conversions coming from our banner advertising. We have a tested several strong CTA’s such as vacation give-aways, free gas, and great price points. We have tried behavioral targeting, content targeting, and run of network on travel research sites. We have utilized ad networks and purchased direct from the publisher. Are our expectations too high, or have others found the secret to successful banner ads when promoting travel to their State?

(Submitted via LinkedIn)
From a CTR standpoint, yes .01% can be abysmal, but a .5% in the travel category can indicate good performance. Try running a test to see what gave you the higher CTR…then do more of that. However, I think the real answer is to look beyond the click on a banner. Take a look at your entire digital media mix. Make sure you are employing tools that allow you to track the effect of a banner view or click on your organic search, paid search and email conversions. If you think about your online marketing in regards to feeding the funnel, you realize that your banner campaign is feeding the top of the funnel by building awareness and consideration. The bottom of the funnel is where people are converting and this will typically take place on a search click. Measuring path-to-conversion will make you feel much better about how your banner campaign is feeding the top of the funnel (just as is your offline media – generating awareness, consideration and intent).

Use a tool like Quantcast to understand if your media is driving the qualified audience to your site and compare your efforts of driving traffic (i.e. awareness) to other state travel destinations. When it comes to booking travel online it is mostly being done at hotel and travel websites and third-party booking engines like Orbitz, Expedia, so make sure your expectations are properly set with regards to conversions.

Use a page-tagging analytics tool that allows you to measure how much traffic you are driving to your hotel and destination partners by tracking outbound links. Consider engagement as a metric. How much time are people spending on your site after they click? Consider using richer media that allow a travel seeker to engage with your brand in the banner without leaving the site they were on.

Also, consider cost. Depending on what you are paying and how many impressions are driving a .01% CTR, you may be getting a very efficient cost-per-qualified lead to your site.

Thoughts// While at first glance the question seems to fit in perfectly with our engagement discussion, if the ads in question are not only resulting in a low CTR (start of the funnel), but also a low conversion rate (end of the funnel) that would point to an issue beyond a simple mis-use of analytics.

So, assuming this fellow reader is following her results throughout the advertising process, what is going wrong? Is banner advertising being ignored by everyone? Are people outside of your demo (see our post, Who is Clicking on Your Banners…Probably a middle-aged, sweepstakes-loving, Midwestern woman who likes junk mail and the Packers) the only ones paying attention to your ads? Are display ads too often looked at as the entire ‘interactive strategy’?

Personally, I am starting to pull further and further away from display advertising while looking (and demanding) for an integrated advertising plan that places my message in front of the audience at key points.

With those thoughts, let’s open it up to the group:

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.