Trivago and Booking.com have dramatically reduced their U.S. TV advertising. Trivago is doing so to try to stem losses, and Booking.com, which last year indicated it would lean into TV advertising, may be trying to tighten control of some marketing costs.
If you feel at times as though Trivago, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, and Booking.com TV commercials are saturating the airwaves, then it might be surprising to learn that as a group they actually are spending less on this advertising than they did last summer.
Online travel agencies reduced their estimated spend 13 percent to $77 million on U.S. national TV in July, according to TV analytics company iSpot.tv.
But it was largely Trivago’s retreat, spurred by a strategy change and reduced marketing participation by partner Booking.com in its metasearch auction, that was chiefly responsible for for the pullback.
Among the top five “travel websites,” as iSpot.tv categorizes these online travel agencies, Trivago led the reversal, cutting its U.S. TV spend in half (51.8 percent), to $21 million from June 29 to July 30 compared with the same period in 2017.
Online Travel Agency U.S. TV Spend July 2018
|Brand||TV Spend 7/17||TV Spend 7/18||% Change|
Booking.com’s U.S. TV spend in July fell 33.3 percent to an estimated $7.2 million, and sister company Priceline.com trimmed its spending on national TV commercials in the U.S. 11.3 percent to $4.7 million, the TV analytics firm found.
This reduced TV spend, or brand advertising, in the U.S. by these two Booking Holdings brands, Booking.com and Priceline, is somewhat surprising since officials have been talking recently about emphasizing TV advertising. But turning on or off advertising spigots in various channels can be tactical and temporary in nature. Booking Holdings reports its earnings August 8 and officials will likely address trends in the company’s marketing spend.
Expedia and Hotels.com Dramatically Hike TV Spend
While Trivago drastically reduced its U.S. TV spend in July because of company-specific dynamics, the story was dramatically different at two other Expedia Group brands, namely Expedia.com and Hotels.com.
Expedia hiked its U.S. TV spend 244 percent to $14.8 million, which was still far below a reeling Trivago’s $21 million, and Hotels.com upped its spend 104 percent to $9.2 million, iSpot.tv estimates.
Expedia poured nearly all of its U.S. TV spend in July into “Rushed,” which touts the brand’s new feature, Expedia’s Add On Advantage. It enables bookers to unlock discounts after they book a flight or package, right up to the day they depart.
Trivago Biggest Ad saw the trivago guy missing in action
Despite cutting its U.S. TV ad spending in half during July, Trivago was still the biggest spender by far among online travel advertisers, and it focused nearly 60 percent of its U.S. TV marketing spend, or $10.6 million, on one commercial, A First Person Experience.
The commercial is notable for several reasons, including the fact that actor Tim Williams, the U.S. Trivago Guy, is absent from the advertising.
The ad, which features the song “Now You Can Feel It” by Robert Burian, is all about personalization and youthfulness. It shows users how to search for a hotel that features a massage (uttered in a decidedly non-American accent), sailing, a hiking trail, a restaurant and — importantly — “party people.”
The commercial also emphasizes user-generated content. “So when I read excellent cleaning? I know I can rest easy in my ideal hotel. Hotel? Trivago, the narrator says.
Among Trivago’s top 10 TV commercials in the U.S. by spend in July, all but two feature an actor/spokesman, including Williams or actor Gonzalo Peña in the four U.S. commercials in Spanish. But Williams is absent from the top commercial by spend, and he only does a voice narration in the second leading TV advertisement, Rest Easy.
Trivago’s Top 10 U.S. TV Ads July 2018
|Spot Name||TV Spend 7/18||Impressions||Language||Featured Actor|
|1. A First Person Experience||$10.6M||799.25M||English||No|
|2. Rest Easy||$1.91 M||214.4M||English||No|
|3. Varias Páginas 3.||$920.9K||71.9M||Spanish||Yes|
|4. Sácale Provecho||$838.2K||51.5M||Spanish||Yes|
|5. Claro y Simple||$688.1K||26.5M||Spanish||Yes|
|6. Lo Que Quieres||$644.4K||26.7M||Spanish||Yes|
|7.. Blue Beach Hotel||$586.9K||43.5M||English||Yes|
|8. Where Would It Be?||$577.6K||21.2M||English||Yes|
|9. Taxi Driver||$560K||26M||English||Yes|
|10. Personalize Your Hotel Experience||$518.1K||19.4M||English||Yes|
Despite the Trivago Guy’s absence in A First Person Experience, don’t count him out. He’s been shoved to the side before, but appears to have nearly as much staying power as Priceline’s William Shatner.
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Photo credit: Trivago drastically reduced its TV advertising spend in the U.S. in July. Pictured is a still from its "A First Person Experience" commercial. Trivago