This week’s top story is about ad blocking.

Virtually all travel brands that sell products online rely on digital advertising to promote their products and better understand their customers’ behavior.

But this entire marketing system is under threat due to the rising use of ad blockers, digital tools that help internet users block unwanted ad content and prevent companies from tracking them. One recent survey suggested that in 2016, close to 25% of US internet users had installed ad blocking software.

For marketers in the travel industry, a sector that has always been especially reliant on digital advertising to fuel growth, the dilemma raised by the use of ad blockers is twofold. Does the success of ad blocker technology mean marketers need to work harder to design more creative, less intrusive ads? Or are ads part of the implicit bargain made between marketers and consumers in exchange for free online content? Read on for more analysis, plus the rest of this week’s top stories.

How Should Online Travel Companies Respond to the Growth of Ad Blocking?
The growing popularity of “ad blockers” is raising some difficult questions for travel marketers. Are online ads so poorly designed, and so annoying, that brands need to rethink their entire strategy to online advertising? Some good thoughts here about what’s at stake and how travel advertisers should respond to the problem. Read more

Talking to Carnival’s CMO About Cross-Device Campaigns and Psychographics
Carnival Cruise Lines CMO Kathy Mayor recently participated in an interview about the company’s digital marketing efforts, during which she discussed topics like cross-device marketing, identifying consumer psychographics and the company’s approach to celebrity partnerships. Read more

Expedia Media Solutions Explores the Habits of “Bleisure” Travelers
“Bleisure” travel, a cringe-worthy phrase coined to describe trips combining both business and leisure elements, is growing in popularity with many consumers. A new study from Expedia Media Solutions maps out the habits defining this new work and play mindset, including the length of “bleisure” trips and how such travelers pick hotels, Read more

New Research Suggests Travelers Don’t Actually Visit Hotel Websites
More hotel brands have been making a push in recent months to encourage customers to make their bookings “direct” on the companies’ websites. But are travelers interested in doing so? New data from Sullivan and 20|20 Research suggests that the majority of consumers are using Google searches and booking engines rather than hotel websites to complete their purchases. Read more

More German Travelers Are Shopping for Travel Products on Smartphones
Germany’s strict internet privacy laws have long posed a challenge for digital businesses and Wi-Fi hungry travelers hoping to get online. But that appears to be changing. A new study suggests a growing proportion of German consumers are using smartphones to shop for and buy travel products. Read more

Photo Credit: Consumers' use of ad blocking technology presents a growing problem for travel marketers. Apple