Online travel companies display ad buys nosediveNewsBy Dennis Schaal | October 6, 2010Share This article was originally published on If you are an account rep trying to get online travel companies to buy display ads on your website, these are not the best of times.Display advertising in the U.S. from online travel services fell 46.4% to $35.66 million in the first six months of 2010, compared with the first half of 2009, according to Kantar Media.Kamtar Media doesn't track search advertising, but its says overall online travel services ad spend on TV, radio, outdoor, newspaper, magazine and display dropped 22.3% to $162.74 million in the first half of 2010.Declines occurred in radio (44.2%), newspapers (29.6%), magazines (60.3%) and display ads (46.4%).The only upbeat developments in the categories that Kantar Media tracks were TV and outdoor ads, which rose 8.9% and 2785.5%, respectively.TV advertising by online travel services in the first half of 2010 came in at $92.53 million, dwarfing the $35.66 million spent on display advertising. So TV is king, at least when measured against display ads.Outdoor advertising by online travel services was $1.58 million in the first six months of 2010, up from just $792,000 a year earlier.So, what's going on here?It is well-known that major online travel companies cut back on their marketing this year, and display ads may have taken the brunt of the hit in online advertising.Dana Hayes, chief revenue officer at Travel Ad Network, which sells advertising on 300 travel websites, says "performance/ROI advertisers were very metric driven" in the first half of 2010.That means they may have favored search advertising over display and print advertising, and cut back in outlets where performance wasn't up to par."It's really a math, metric, quant game that is going on," Hayes says.That being said, Hayes surmises that Kantar's numbers for online travel services' display-ad buys appear to be "very negative numbers."Kantar declined to explain its methodology, reserving such information for clients.While Kantar's numbers related only to online travel services' display-ad buys, Hayes says Travel Ad Network's revenue from rental car companies and cruise lines increased 100% in the first half of 2010 while other travel categories were flat to slightly up.Travel Ad Network deals primarily in the display ad side of the business."For the first half of 2010, we found that travel marketers still support trusted digital brands with unique offerings or ROI marketers focused on highly targeted audiences," Hayes says.Hayes adds that Travel Ad Network's revenue rose 40% in the first six months of 2010.Meanwhile, the sober display ad numbers from online travel services occur as Yahoo revealed it would buy Dapper, a move designed to help Yahoo bolster its display advertising lead over search-ad-king Google.Dapper's sweet spot is contextual display ads and technologies.Google, in turn, sees its initiatives to boost its relatively small display ad business as a strategic imperative.Both Yahoo and Google undoubtedly hope that online travel companies kick into gear their display advertising in the second half of 2010.