Skift Take

Google is getting disrupted on a number of fronts and the emergence of Facebook as a viable advertising alternative -- or supplement, actually -- for Expedia and other big travel advertisers is part of it.

It’s never smart for companies to get over-dependent on a third-party platform, and with that kind of thinking, Expedia Inc. is hoping to reduce its reliance on advertising through Google by building up its participation in Facebook and other social platforms.

In fact, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the company plans to increase spend and increase Facebook and other social advertising to “Google-like levels if we can.”

Khosrowshahi said Thursday, during the company’s third quarter earnings call, that Expedia’s participation in Facebook’s dynamic travel ads program is “a very, very promising area for us. Our Facebook advertising continues to grow very significantly, and they’re a terrific partner. So we’re quite optimistic there.”


One thing that is holding Expedia back is that it hasn’t been able to adequately identify travel intent to the extent it wants to through Facebook, he said.

“Our goal in Facebook is to really get that channel and other social channels to real scale, and what really gets us scale is when you’re able to identify intent in a more accurate way,” Khosrowshahi said. “We haven’t quite cracked the code there, but we’re working very hard with our partners at Facebook and other social networks in order to get there.

“Retargeting is pretty interesting, and obviously we’re investing there. [There’s] some debate as to how incremental that advertising is, but we continue to gather data, we continue to increase spend, and the goal is to really scale it to Google-like levels if we can.”

Expedia’s sales and marketing spend jumped 27.7 percent to $1.2 billion in the third quarter and a big chunk of that goes to Google advertising. Expedia’s goal is to further diversify its marketing/advertising spending by helping Facebook get more effective at it.

Expedia isn’t alone in the travel industry in expressing keener interest in building up Facebook advertising.

After previously dissing Facebook as a marketing platform — as many in the travel and hospitality industry continue to do — then-Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston said in 2015 that his brands were “finally” getting good traction through retargeting efforts on Facebook.

Expedia, meanwhile, is also cooperating with Facebook beyond the advertising realm. Khosrowshahi said October 27 that Expedia is experimenting with Facebook Messenger and Artificial Intelligence in enabling Expedia customers to book hotels.


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Tags: advertising, earnings, expedia, facebook, marketing, priceline

Photo credit: Expedia is looking for new advertising options in social media. Pictured is an Expedia sponsored post on Facebook. Expedia

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