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Brand Search Dominating Profits

Posted on 3.16.2007
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Jeffrey Glueck, CMO of Travelocity delivered the afternoon keynote speech at the IAB Performance Marketing Forum this week and shared some very interesting findings. Citing a Nielsen NetRatings study, Glueck says that half of all searhes on Google and Yahoo are comprised of only 100 terms. What's more, half of those terms are brand terms. However, brand keywords account for only 5% of marketers' search spend. But those same brand search terms account for a staggering 80% of profits from search - according to another study by agency 360i.

Travelocity has fought back from being an industry also-ran in the early 2000's to a leader today. In their own study, Travelocity found that only 2% of conversions resulted from a user originally searching a non-branded term, only to click on a branded term at a later date. They now estimate that 96% of booked trips result from branded keywords. So how did they extend their brand? Largely due to an exhaustive amount of testing various campaigns and banner ads. And a lot of help from that little traveling garden gnome.

Glueck cites relevance as the key factor. Travelocity's best-performing banner had nothing to do with exotic destinations, but a "know before you go" campaign. This promoted the ability of travelers to get updates before embarking on their trip - if the pool was closed for repairs, for example. The customer could then re-book at no extra charge. It turns out this information is highly relevant to travelers. In addition, Travelocity ran campaigns on smaller, niche travel sites. According to Glueck, consumers were closer to making a buying decision because they were already thinking about travel, as opposed to trying to brand on CNN's financial news page where consumers are likely thinking about hundreds of things other than travel.

The final coup of relevance for Travelocity is the gnome himself. As Gleuck explained, "He's always been stuck there in the garden and now he gets to travel the world." It's a symbol of consumers' desire to break out of their daily routine and travel where, according to Gleuck, people feel happiest and most free.

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