Last week, lastminute.com group announced its new media business, The Travel People.
In such an interesting time for online advertising, I wanted to know what this means for lastminute.com group and the advertising on its sites.
Mirroring big publisher websites, is this a move towards more bespoke campaigns and away from standard display?
I caught up with Alessandra Di Lorenzo, Chief Advertising Officer at lastminute.com group, to find out.
I asked Alessandra how the group’s approach to advertising was changing with The Travel People.
The focus it seems is partly on utilising first-party data to a greater degree, ensuring relevance.
“We’re giving brands access to a highly lucrative travel audience – who are young, affluent and already in a spending mindset – right across Europe, while our first–party data means we can target by passion, not just demographics.
“With [that first party data], we know what consumers are thinking at every stage of the customer journey, right from initial research all the way through to booking and going on a trip, and beyond.”
Essentially, the company knows when a user has been searching for holidays and reading content about Dubai, for example, and this information and intent is incredibly valuable.
But it seems that programmatic technology plays a vital part, too.
“Our programmatic technologies mean we can combine that first-party data with other audience trends, and tap into those in real-time.
“And using our smart extension tools, brands can target consumers with relevant ads both on and offsite, every step of the way.”
via The Travel People
Optimising relevance and revenue
The Travel People sells a range of ad formats across the Lastminute.com group.
This ranges from display ads to email, custom content (native) to events and social.
Fairly obviously, a lot of The Travel People’s advertisers are from the travel sector – flight operators, hotel chains etc.
So how does the company ensure advertising (particularly what might be called trade promotion) doesn’t negatively impact conversion or lifetime value? i.e. distracting the user from buying what they really want.
“Our new proposition and profiling capabilities ensure that the ad content we show our customers is relevant and enhances the travel experience.” Alessandra says.
“We want to give our customers the best possible experience, while protecting our core business too.”
What’s particularly interesting is that The Travel People does indeed take heed of customer lifetime value.
“Our technologies also enable us to recognize customers based on their lifetime value, and we can use this to customize the advertising experience accordingly.”
So, maximising ad revenue, user experience and lifetime value are not mutually exclusive endeavours.
Display formats are still effective
When I asked Alessandra which advertising format was growing quickest, she singled out one that some may think of as old fashioned.
“Brands want ads that are high impact and have high viewability. The formats we are offering are very much doing that – especially our double MPU above the fold.”
However, taking a pragmatic approach, she sees change in advertising being more about finding a balance between formats.
“Display ad formats are already an effective way of getting high brand exposure.
“But we’re going to see more and more integrated editorial- and content-rich solutions and these will complement, rather than replace, display advertising.
“I believe these solutions are the future, and we’ll be looking to add them to our offering soon.”
With advertising within an aggregator, the potential to mislead customers is high.
“We are in the process of marking up our ads to make sure they are easily recognizable,” Alessandra said.
Getting to the crux of the debate, she continued, “Native is really effective because it gives context to the advertising, but it’s important to make it very clear when it is from a third party.”
I finished by asking what was next for lastminute.com group – where are the untapped channels for generating ad revenue?
“As the most frequently used device, mobile has to be next – but not in its current format.” Alessandra said.
“The whole advertising sector is still trying to replicate the digital desktop way of advertising on mobile, which doesn’t particularly work.
“Mobile is a hugely untapped channel for generating ad revenue, so it’s time for the big agencies and advertisers to start giving it more recognition in their budgets.”
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