Pat Hyland - Jun 24, 2013
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With the rise of real-time bidding (RTB), advertisers in the travel industry can now, more than ever, bid for the specific point at which their communication is viewed on websites. As audiences migrate from print media to digital, and television audiences increasingly entertain 'multi-screen' viewing from home, the value of digital advertising is growing exponentially; the difficulty resides in successfully focusing the advertisements to potential customers to attain the best possible return on investment.

So how does it work? Just as with Google AdWords, real-time bidding exchanges are essentially online auctions which mean that advertisers bid per impression, for a particular time/audience/website for when and where their advert will appear. When a user opens a web page, an advertising opportunity is presented and an RTB exchange enables the impression to be available for bidding. The real-time bidding exchange auctions the inventory, and the auction winner's ad is delivered instantaneously.

Let's say you wanted to target young backpackers looking to travel around Europe, real-time bidding means that your ad can be served only to the specific customer you are after and no-one else. When the customer enters in their relevant search terms, such as 'gap year', 'hostels', 'campsites' or 'interrail', or goes to a particular part of your website, then it is only at this point that the ad will be served.

Voices within the digital marketing space are speaking about how consumers are being increasingly savvy in searching online for the best deals. Rich media and interactive banners can be great for brand awareness but can often be very expensive, meaning advertisers are very conscious of the perennial question: what is the return on investment?

RTB means that travel advertisers can target their customers only at the cost they're willing to pay, rather than buying wholesale impressions. Real-time bidding also allows for fine-tuning: advertisers can change how they target their campaign over time and respond to consumer demand. A real-time bidding agency can offer a great way to best enable companies in the tourism sector to target their advertising and even stories to those consumers that best represent the customer profile that they are focusing on.

Compared with this highly-selective direct response advertising process, 'normal' advertising, in which the same ad is seen by the whole audience, whatever the customer's location, age, income bracket and level of education may be, can be seen to be more of a 'spray and pray' type approach.

Vitally, with the ad served only to those valuable customers that will be most likely to respond to the products and offers available at the point of search, RTB facilitates direct-response marketing; customers can follow the relevant ad to the online point of purchase. RTB also means that advertising for product launches of direct relevance to a particular customer are seen by them when the product comes out and the consumer is online and ready to make a purchase. With the obvious benefits to real-time bidding over traditional advertising routes, the success of RTB for travel industry companies is set to run and run.

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