Hotels.com estimates more than one in five transactions on its platform occur through mobile devices, representing a growing area investment for a predominant player in online travel booking.
“We can always do better from a brand recognition standpoint,” commented Steven Quach, director of online marketing for Hotels.com. “Anywhere we can find pops of growth that weren’t around before, it’s always good and mobile is an example of that.”
With mobile ad revenues experiencing 83% growth globally, increasing from $5.3 billion in 2011 to $8.9 billion last year, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates, the market opportunity is vast. Myriad mobile acquisitions of late, from performance display player Criteo’s snap-up of AD-X Tracking to Millennial Media’s acquisition of Jumptap, could create opportunities for marketers.
“Criteo [buying] AD-X…that’s obviously going to help create and build out their mobile retargeting, which is going to be huge,” Quach said. “We rely on [AD-X] to figure out the tracking element [and we have interest] in the whole retargeting side as well.”
Quach noted Hotels.com has data that suggests it should target higher up in the purchase funnel to retarget the research-prone mobile user who may interact with the brand before converting through a desktop browser. It has also found that tablet buyers typically driver higher order values than desktop users, despite the fact that they’re more last-minute purchases. “This is where tracking comes in to play and how it could be valuable for the marketer,” he said. “It’s up to the industry to [help us] figure it out.”
Facebook is also a hot area, and Hotels.com relies “quite heavily” on Facebook mobile app install ads, which is "going gangbusters.” Facebook launched the developer tools last fall and added additional targeting capabilities this spring to tap into the big demand for mobile app downloads. The company is investing agency (it works with Fetch in San Francisco) and DMP resources to beef up technology and automation on the app install side.
With mobile installs, “I feel like you have to do a walk between engagement, clicks to the app store, and actual installs,” which can be a long path to follow and properly navigate.
Hotels.com is also engaged in programmatic buying in the desktop news feed via Facebook Exchange., Quach said, “and we’re chomping on the bit a little bit to sort of recreate that on the mobile side, as well.” A common pain point for marketers, beyond Facebook, is engaging the user who downloads a mobile app only to use it once and never return again. “The ability to use first-party data to retarget those users is something we’re really focused on right now.”
Additionally, “I know that Facebook [FBX] is going to integrate mobile inventory in the coming months, so we’re anxiously waiting for them to do that, so we can start buying that programmatically,” Quach said. “It seems like, overall, their product pipeline is very robust and they’re improving their ability to target and such.”