Skift Take

The most popular travel ads on TV in the United States in July were aspirational, but they also emphasized booking flexibility and low pricing. Pandemic formulations.

Travel brands came back in force to U.S. national TV advertising in July.

National TV advertising spending in the United States among airlines, cities/destinations, cruise lines, hotels, resorts/theme parks and travel websites more than doubled in July to $38.8 million versus June, according to estimates from TV measure and attribution platform Importantly, TV ad impressions rose an estimated 88.3 percent to 5.17 billion.

Both categories, though, were still way down compared with a year ago.

When it came to ad impressions, hotels-motels was the most-seen category, and Choice Hotels was the standout in both impressions, and estimated spend at $6.5 million. That came to around 16.7 percent of all travel industry ad spending on U.S. TV in July.

After a humble June, airlines saw their advertising impressions and spend, an estimated $7 million, leap ahead in July with Southwest Airlines leading the charge.

Fox News Trampled CNN

But when it came to a key metric, U.S. TV ad impressions for travel companies in July, Fox News was the most popular TV network, delivering “nearly three times as many as CNN,” which placed second, according to NBC ranked third.

A month earlier, in June, Fox New likewise generated the most ad impressions in the U.S. for travel brands among TV networks, followed by NBC, and then CNN.

The fo broke down July’s U.S. TV advertising statistics for travel:

Topline Stats

The travel industry has continued to reboot its marketing this summer, with month-over-month increases in TV ad impressions, estimated value of ad spend, airings and spots in July versus June — although it’s still experiencing year-over-year decreases across the board compared to 2019.

Travel Industry Advertising Overview in July

Hotels & Motels

The Hotels & Motels category had the most-seen travel industry ads in July.
Hotel/motel marketers racked up nearly 1.9 billion TV ad impressions in July, with ad spend for the category valued at an estimated $8.1 million. Choice Hotels was the main driver of both impressions (1.7 billion) and outlay ($6.5 million estimated media value) for the industry, and it also owned the top two spots by impressions for all travel categories overall.

Hotel & Motels Impressions in July

Resorts & Theme Parks

The resorts & theme Parks category took second place for impressions (1.6 billion), followed by cities & destinations (834.8 million), airlines (563.7 million), travel websites (294.2 million) and cruise lines (23 million).

News Drove Impressions for Travel Categories

Looking at the top networks that delivered impressions for travel brands overall, Fox News was No. 1 with 766.9 million TV ad impressions — nearly three times as many as CNN, which was in second place (257.5 million) — while MSNBC was No. 4 with 214.2 million impressions. NBC (221.6 million impressions) was the only broadcast network in the top five.

Of the top 10 impressions-driving programs for all travel categories, only two were not news-related: PGA Tour Golf (No. 5 with 48.7 million impressions) and HGTV’s Good Bones (No. 10 with 36.7 million impressions). The No. 1 program for travel advertising by impressions was America’s Newsroom (122.3 million impressions).

Airline TV Ads Are Increasing, Led by Southwest

After a quiet June, airlines rebounded on TV in July, with a 1,487.77 percent month-over-month increase in TV ad impressions (563.7 million) and a 793.08 percent month-over-month increase in ad airings (1,161). The estimated value of ad spend was up 4,049.15 percent month-over-month (estimated $7 million).

Airlines also received notable viewer attention in July, with the category having an overall iSpot Attention Score of 94.37, with airline ads receiving 21 percent fewer interruptions than average.

Although it didn’t start airing ads until July 13, Southwest Airlines was the primary driver of the month’s impressions (478.8 million), accounting for 85 percent of the total impressions for the category, and 94.3 percent of the estimated ad value.

In fact, Southwest was the No. 3 overall travel brand by impressions (behind Choice Hotels with 1.7 billion and Sandals Resorts with 660.3 million). The third most-seen spot across all travel categories was Southwest’s “Wanderlust,” with 478.3 million TV ad impressions and an Attention Score of 94.54 (23 percent fewer interruptions than average).

Airlines by TV Ad Impressions in July

Category Attention Insights

In July, three travel categories had particularly notable average iSpot Attention Scores: Cities & Destinations (Score: 96.17, with ads from this category receiving 46 percent fewer interruptions than average), the aforementioned Airlines (Score: 94.37, 21 percent fewer interruptions) and Resorts & Theme Parks (Score: 93.65,11 percent fewer interruptions).
A few notable spots for attention that also were in the top five by impressions:

Choice Hotels: “The Open Road Is Open Again: Earn a Free Night”

590 million TV ad impressions
iSpot Attention Score: 95.99
43 percent fewer interruptions

Southwest Airlines: “Wanderlust”
478.3 million TV ad impressions
iSpot Attention Score: 94.54
23 percent fewer interruptions

Great Wolf Lodge: “Our Paw Pledge”
364.7 million TV ad impressions
iSpot Attention Score: 95.18
32 percent fewer interruptions

Note:, the TV measurement and attribution platform, provided the monthly estimates to Skift.

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Tags: advertising, choice hotels, cnn,, sandals, southwest airlines

Photo credit: A screenshot of a Southwest Airlines Wanderlust TV commercial. Airlines increased their advertising in July 2020. Southwest Airlines/

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