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I’ll eat my hat. TripAdvisor’s 2014 ad campaign appears to be performing well with a brand uplift in the France, the U.S. and Australia.
If you’ve already seen plenty of TripAdvisor advertisements on TV in the last few months, you can soon expect to see plenty more as the company announced that it plans to aggressively spend on TV spots in the third quarter.
The TripAdvisor advertising blitz, which kicked off in May in the U.S. and France, and in June in Australia, may soon modestly expand to an additional market, CFO Julie Bradley said during TripAdvisor’s second quarter earnings call July 23.
It’s all part of the review- and hotel-search site’s strategy to spend $30 million on TV advertising in 2014.
TripAdvisor spent a similar sum on a couple of less-than successful TV campaigns, the first in its history, in 2013, although the 2014 version will be concentrated in the second and third quarters as opposed to the third and fourth quarters last year.
The ads revolve around a theme designed to show that travelers are better-positioned to enjoy their visits and hotel stay if they arm themselves with hotel information from TripAdvisor.
“Don’t just visit New York (or Rome or Miami etc.),” the spots advise. “Visit TripAdvisor New York.”
CEO Stephen Kaufer said the company, which touts itself as “the world’s largest travel website” based on comScore Media Metrix data for Q1 2014, is “very pleased” with the ad campaign, and is getting a meaningful uplift in searches for the TripAdvisor brand in the U.S., France and Australia as reflected in Google Trends data for 2014.
As you can see below in Google Trends charts for the three markets so far in 2014, searches for the TripAdvisor brand are on the upswing in the U.S., TripAdvisor is killing it in France, and is performing well in Australia.
An advertising expert at one of TripAdvisor’s competitor’s concedes that TripAdvisor is getting “pop” from its TV spending, but isn’t a fan of the campaign.
“The messaging is good, but it’s not breakthrough, and it’s not well-branded,” the competitor says. “I also think it’s clunky: ‘don’t visit rome, visit TripAdvisor Rome’ is just strange to me, and it’s trying too hard to be clever and catchy, but it’s not and it’s confusing. Just be clear, ‘Before you visit Rome, visit TripAdvisor.'”
Having been burned by its less-than-stellar advertising campaigns in 2013, which prompted a shuffling of creative agencies, TripAdvisor is being cautious about the prospects of its current campaign, and is not baking any potential lift from it into its financial guidance.
Late last year, Kaufer said of the TV ad campaign: http://skift.com/2013/12/06/6-blunt-quotes-about-competition-and-success-from-tripadvisors-ceo/ ““For more than a decade, I said we’re not doing TV [ads], we don’t need to. … So even though I have a 10-year bias, we’re doing it. Lord, I hope it works. But if it doesn’t, it’s not going to kill the company.”
Preliminary indications are that his prayers have been answered.