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It's not just all about Amazon Web Services anymore when Amazon reaches out to travel industry customers. It is still early days but Amazon Ads may one day crimp travel brands' spending on Google and Facebook.

Series: Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, Executive Editor and online travel rockstar Dennis Schaal will bring readers exclusive reporting and insight into the business of online travel and digital booking, and how this sector has an impact across the travel industry.

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Online Travel This Week

Very quietly over the last year-and-a-half, Amazon has been scaling up its Amazon Ads business to target the travel and hospitality sector.

Brands including Avis and Disney, as well as destination management organizations, including TravelTexas.com, are among the travel and hospitality organizations that Amazon Ads touts in case studies or other marketing materials for its fledgling travel advertising business.

Amazon Ads had an exhibitor booth at the Phocuswright travel tech conference in Hollywood, Florida this week, although Amazon account representatives declined to go on the record about the program.

The idea behind the new ad program is to use Amazon first-party data about its customers’ buying habits to enable travel and hospitality companies to better target travelers through display and video ads, for example, mostly across Amazon platforms and devices.

The promotional materials for Amazon Ads for travel and hospitality state that 78 percent of the U.S. population that Amazon reaches spent more than $500 on travel during the past six months. And travelers visit Amazon outlets 85 times on average in the month prior to a trip, the company says.

“By leveraging Amazon Ads’ audience-based marketing solutions, advertisers can focus on reaching the right travel audiences, with the right message, at the right time on and off Amazon,” goes the pitch.

Although Amazon may in theory help advertisers reach travelers on other platforms, the emphasis appears to be on reaching target audiences in the U.S., Canada and Europe across Amazon’s own platforms and devices, whether it is on Amazon.com for shopping, the Alexa voice assistant at home, or Twitch video game live streaming.

Avis ran sponsored ads on Amazon targeted toward helping customers find road trip essentials, and offered car rental discounts and Amazon gift cards. “For a Camping Trip, we suggest a Ford Edge or a similar standard SUV,” read one Avis ad.

In September, Amazon and Disney announced a collaboration on a Hey Disney voice assistant feature on Echo devices in Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms that enable guests to interact with Disney characters.

Destinations appear to be a sweet spot for Amazon Ads in these early days. For instance, TravelTexas.com produced a guide to Texas barbecue to target Amazon’s audience.

After all, Amazon Ads can help travel and hospitality companies target travel audiences because it has has so much data on whether people are shopping for luggage tags or buying certain books about dining or things to do maybe a month before an intended trip, for instance.

Amazon Ads are not a carbon copy of Google’s search engine marketing as the former may help target travelers earlier in their trip-planning activities. The pitch is for travel and hospitality companies to use Amazon Ads as a supplement to their Google or Facebook campaigns — for now, at least.

Asked about Amazon’s entry into the travel advertising business, Jeff Tolkin, co-CEO of cruise seller World Travel Holdings, who attended the Florida conference, said: “We will go wherever there is a cost-effective opportunity to source business. In any marketplace, having more vendors is preferential.”

Amazon has tried and failed several times over the years to launch its own travel transaction businesses in the U.S. In addition to its travel ads program, Amazon has expanded beyond a Cleartrip flight partnership in India and agreed to start offering MakeMyTrip’s travel services on Amazon platforms in India.

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Tags: amazon, avis, booking holdings, Dennis' Online Travel Briefing, disney, facebook, getaroom, google, priceline, Skift Pro Columns, targeting, texas, tourism, tripadvisor, trivago, vacasa

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