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Report: More Travel Companies Take to the Web

If you think you're lately being lured to faraway destinations by banner ads for a wide variety of travel companies, you're not imagining things; more and more such firms are turned to the Web to acquire customers in the first quarter, according to a report issued Thursday by AdRelevance, a division of MediaMetrix (MMXI).

Total advertising impressions for travel companies lagged behind overall growth in the first quarter -- increasing only three percent over fourth-quarter numbers, while the industry average was four percent.

At the same time, the number of companies grew dramatically. Forty-five percent more companies advertised in the first quarter than did in the fourth -- an increase that AdRelevance attributes to advertising by resorts and tour companies.

"Although travel company advertising isn't dominating the Web, the latest AdRelevance data suggests that online advertising for the industry is growing at a healthy rate," said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of media research for the AdRelevance division of Media Metrix.

"The fact that so many new travel companies have started to advertise online gives us reason to believe that the industry's Internet advertising activity will pick up even more in the upcoming quarters."

Still, travel agent firms -- like Travelscape.com, Expedia, Lowestfare.com, TRIP.com, and Preview Travel -- accounted for most of the advertising impressions in the category, 80 percent. Airlines came in next, with 41 percent.

According to AdRelevance estimates, travel companies are spending a larger percentage of their ad budgets online. The company says four-and-a-half percent of their total ad budget were dedicated to online advertising, which was twice the percentage projected by the Internet Advertising Bureau.

Another interesting finding concerned consumer behavior -- when people go to travel sites on the Web, they're most likely to be shopping. Sites where folks can buy tickets outpaced travel content sites. Four out of the five top travel sites were shopping sites.


Top 10 Travel Advertisers Online by Impressions
Source: AdRelevance, a division of Media Metrix

Rank Travel Company Ad Impressions Share of Voice
1 Lowestfare.com 690,000,000 37 percent
2 Travelscape.com 240,000,000 14 percent
3 Hotel Reservation Network 180,000,000 10 percent
4 TRIP.com 110,000,000 6 percent
5 Preview Travel 91,000,000 5 percent
6 Yahoo! 62,000,000 3 percent
7 Delta Airlines 52,000,000 3 perc