TripAdvisor, the user-reviews giant, recently studied how well its advertising was working as travelers moved through the transaction funnel, from inspiration to research to purchase.
Like many other digital companies, TripAdvisor found that last-click attribution models weren't encompassing how various marketing efforts were nudging customers toward conversion.
ComScore, a major web analytics firm, used its online panel of 2 million people worldwide to study travelers shopping behavior -- comparing those who used TripAdvisor with those who didn't.
Here are highlights from the study:
What is TripAdvisor’s role within the travel transaction funnel?
The research found that 13% of all global researchers on travel content websites visited TripAdvisor at least once in September 2014.
More impressively, one in two of travel researchers who went on to make a travel purchase visited TripAdvisor at some point during their online journey.
That group is large. Out of 406 million people intending to travel worldwide, 42 million ended up purchasing, according to statistical inferences ComScore made based on its sampling.
In other words, one out of ten people who intend to buy travel end up actually doing so, and roughly half of those use TripAdvisor.
How long is the usual travel purchaser's journey?
People who use TripAdvisor tend to be heavier researchers than those who don't.
Purchasers who at some point used TripAdvisor visited on average 31 travel site before booking. Purchasers who ignored TripAdvisor tended to only visit 11 travel sites.
To say that another way, TripAdvisor users used 20 more travel sites to research their trips before booking than non-TripAdvisor users did, on average, in September 2014 worldwide.
These users also took their time.
Four out of five TripAdvisor users took more than four weeks to go from starting research to purchasing. That's problematic because the typical length of a cookie is left on a web browser for only 28 days. (A cookie is tracking code left on an internet browser to enable an advertiser's web server to see patterns in the users web browsing.)
The situation in Europe is worse, where privacy concerns are higher than in the US. About one in three European online users delete their cookies once a month on average, according to some surveys.
The study confirms a widely held view that, by measuring campaign performance by click-through rates, travel companies cloud their ability to fully comprehend the halo effects of branding campaigns.
A summary of the study of TripAdvisor, including the analysis of how a major unnamed travel brand saw banner ad campaigns on TripAdvisor affect various metrics, can be downloaded from ComScore's site.
A note of caution: Web analytics firm data isn't 100% accurate.
TripAdvisor’s Kaufer defends Instant Booking, teases an itinerary-builder tool