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After Priceline killed off William Shatner’s The Negotiator character in a bus crash, the company’s advertising gurus brought him back in a beach scene in August, but his days of proselytizing for its Name Your Own Price bidding service were seemingly as dead as parched seaweed baking in the sand.
For example, in Shatner’s comeback commercial (above), there’s no mention of Name Your Own Price as Priceline chooses to use Shatner to hawk its website’s and mobile apps’ ease of use in booking flights, hotels, and cars.
Or so it seemed.
But, try doing a hotel search on Priceline.com, and then navigating away to Expedia.com without booking anything on Priceline, and perhaps you’ll see a Priceline pop-up ad hogging your computer screen — an ad that harks back to the old days.
There is The Negotiator, touting Priceline’s bidding service and discounts of up to 60% on Chicago hotels.
Albeit with a twist, Priceline’s advertising strategy borrows a page from Room Key, the website founded by major hotel brands, including Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott, and Wyndham.
When Room Key visitors navigate away without booking a particular hotel brand there, they are likely to get served an ad from Room Key touting the other brand choices on the site.
Room Key serves up pop-under ads, while Priceline is pushing the more intrusive pop-up variety. Could Priceline be learning some lessons, though, from Room Key’s strategy?
Don’t leave departing site visitors high and dry?
Interestingly, several online travel brands, including Priceline, entered into settlements with the State of New York in 2007 for having adware surreptitiously installed on consumers’ desktops, and serving ads to unwitting, would-be travelers.
Priceline reportedly ceased using such services, but it apparently still views pop-up ads, however annoying they may be to some consumers, as an effective tool.
The Negotiator apparently doesn’t mind at all.