Mobile travel marketing deep dive - devices, campaign strategy, spend and moreNews / Technology | OnlineBy Karthick Prabu | May 1, 2014Share This article was originally published on Airlines and booking websites are the two segments investing most heavily in mobile advertising while the drive to increase site/mobile traffic is almost double in travel compared to other industries. Research from Millennial Media, a mobile advertising specialist, and comScore, analyzes travel-related activities by thousands of users to understand travel brands' advertising spend activity on mobile, their requirements and strategy to reach target customers. Mobile currently accounts for 12% of total digital advertising spend in the travel vertical and is increasing, according to eMarketer. Key takeaways from the study are: Mobile travel audience - demographic, income The majority of mobile travel consumers are male and aged between 25-44 while the number of travel consumers in the 25-34 age range is double, in percentage terms, of the total mobile audience in the same age range. Here, 'travel audience' is defined as consumers who frequently engage with travel content and advertisements via mobile devices. More than 90% of this mobile travel audience owns a smartphone (compared to 65% overall), while 51% owns a tablet (compared to 33% overall). This device ownership also correlates with the average household income, as 61% of the mobile travel audience earns more than $60,000 a year, compared to 58% of the total mobile audience. Mobile travel cross-screen usage Travel consumers are spending more of their time across multiple devices to engage in mobile activities. The preference to use PC for travel-related activities increases with age although the 55+ years group are the highest smartphone and tablet users. Interestingly, 18-24 year-olds spend the least amount of time in travel content but still make up one of the highest percentages of time spent when compared to other age groups. On average, travel content is consumed on mobile devices for about 32-33% of the time. Mobile travel usage - by location When it comes to the location where the mobile travel audience performs travel-related activities on mobile, 'home' leads the chart by a huge margin - 61% of mobile and 70% of the tablet audience research or book travel when at home.In addition, 33% of mobile and 22% of tablet audience research or book travel while they are travelling.It's interesting to observe that, except at home, the usage of mobile phones is higher in all other locations - at work, at a hotel, at the airport, in the destination city, etc. Tablet usage is high only when the consumers are at home. Apart from the audience using their mobile devices for research activities such as discovering new destinations or looking up flight and hotel options, they also use their devices while traveling for directions, recommendations and information in a new or unfamiliar location. Mobile travel research - by device When it comes to travel research, the hospitality segment leads others as the top activity performed by 83% of mobile (and 74% of tablet) users. The other popular travel research segments are flights and car rental.When compared to the research performed on a train, bus, cruise and package deals, research on hotels is about four times greater.It should also be noted that smartphones overtake tablets in all segments of research although the percentage difference between the devices is minimal.Mobile travel purchase - by device When it comes to making travel purchases, two-thirds use mobile devices to make hotel reservations, while making flight reservations is the second most common activity on either device, done by nearly half of travellers. Looking at the chart above in conjuction with the chart below we gain deeper insight: 82% of travelers research hotels on their mobile devices, while 67% purchase hotels on them (in case of tablets, its 74% research vs 64% purchase)67% of travelers research flights on their mobile devices, while 49% purchase flights on mobile.Flight and hotel activities performed on smartphonesHotel and flight emerge as the two most popular travel activities on mobile.For flights, the top activities the mobile travel audience performs include - checking fare, checking status/schedule, check-in and getting alerts.For hotels, checking price and availability are the top activities carried out on mobile. Other popular activities include looking up an address/direction, reading reviews and retrieving confirmation number.Travel vertical spend on mobile - by regionThe travel vertical has been a consistent top ten spender among the dozens of other verticals (retail, entertainment, etc) running mobile advertising campaigns.In 2013, travel was the seventh largest brand vertical, and it has averaged this position for the past two years. The top three positions are taken by the entertainment, retail and telecommunications verticals.On a regional level, the travel vertical ranks at number four after entertainment, telecommunications and automotive in the EMEA market and number five after telecommunications, CPG, finance and entertainment in APAC.Travel brands' spend on mobile advertisingIn 2013, eight different segments contributed to the travel vertical on the Millennial Media platform:Airlines made up the largest travel segment with 30% share. These brands ran mobile advertising campaigns to promote new routes and destinations, fare sales and cabin upgrades.Booking sites and apps accounted for 26% of the travel vertical spend.Tourism took the third slot, accounting for 14% of travel spend. Cities, states, countries and destinations around the globe ran campaigns to entice visitors to their location.Hotels accounted for 11% of travel vertical spend.Mobile travel campaign goalsAmong the campaign goals set by travel brands, the top two goals were: site/mobile traffic and brand awareness.Notice the difference (see graph below) between the 'site/mobile traffic' need among travel advertisers (56%) compared to advertisers from all verticals (30%).Travel advertisers with this goal most commonly featured an m-commerce action, such as booking a hotel, tickets to an event, or a rental car after clicking-through the ad.Awareness campaigns are run by travel advertisers about 25% of the time to plant the idea of a taking a trip with consumers.For example:Airline or tourism brands with this campaign goal use stunning images of a destination in order to entice consumers to visit a specific location.Hotels often use images of their new location and amenities in order to create consumer interest in a property.Registration campaigns were the third most common goal for travel advertisers - they asked consumers to sign up for retail promotion emails advertising specials on airfare, hotels and tickets to attractions.Post-click campaign activityCompared to all advertisers running campaigns with Millennial Media, travel brands utilized seven of the ten post-click actions the company tracks. App downloads and the use of m-commerce actions were the top post-click campaign action among travel brands. The mcommerce action was often tied to a branded application or mobile landing page where consumers could purchase and book travel on the spot. Targeting travel audiences - strategiesVarious forms of targeting to reach the mobile travel audience include: tactical, location, contextual and behavioral.On the Millennial Media platform, travel campaigns were heavily over-indexed for iOS (72%) platform, followed by Android at 26% and Blackberry and Windows at each 1%.When looking at the type of devices these travel campaigns ran, 34% of the impressions came from tablets (64% from smartphones). This number was two times greater than the platform average of 17%.Content targeting aligns brand messaging with categories and topics that reflect the interests of the target audience.Cross-visitation of content can be an effective form of targeting - travel campaigns are served through a variety of application categories. Among these, the categories that show the highest engagement are games, productivity and tools, dating and retail shopping (this audience often spends extra time shopping for items to take on a trip).Travel advertisers also run location-based targeting campaigns to ensure their messages get to mobile users at the right place and time, such as in proximity to an airport or a hotel property.Among the type of travellers targeted by travel brands, vacationers and business travellers comprise more than 50% of the overall traveller profiles.Report methodology comScore methodology: MobiLens U.S. Survey; September 2013 and December 2013, three month average; n= 32,088. Includes total mobile audience 13+ with a primary handset.TabLens U.S. Survey; September 2013 and December 2013, three month average; n=6,379. Includes total mobile audience 13+ with a primary handset.Custom Mobile Travel Study; September 2013; n=1,527. Includes smartphone and tablet users 18+.Millennial Media Platform Data:The data featured is based on actual campaign and platform data from Millennial Media.NB:Tablet image via Shutterstock.