OMD research charts path to purchase in travel sector in bid to better target ad spend

omd passport to discovery researchMedia agency OMD has completed one of its most in-depth pieces of research in a move to more accurately plot the path to purchase in the notoriously complex travel sector.

The agency conducted studies in Australia and China, interviewing more than 800 travellers in each country, to better understand how, what and where they are consuming media.

Among the revelations thrown up in the partnership with travel research specialist MyTravelResearch, which led to the creation of more than 300 slides of data, was that 34 per cent of Australians interviewed admitted to clicking on an online ad.

The agency, which has travel brands including Qantas, Tourism Australia and Helloworld on its books, believes the findings, while highlighting the enormous difficulty faced by travel marketers, will enable firms to better plan targeted campaigns and reach consumers at different stages of the “path to purchase”.

omd customer overview

OMD insights director Carl McLean said the data will be valuable for an industry sector which historically has operated on slim margins and often on limited budgets.

“The more we can give them a heads up on where they should be targeting those budgets, the better,” he told Mumbrella. “This is about helping our guys stretch those dollars as far as they can go and making sure it’s as targeted as possible. We think we have a real handle on the media footprint across the various path to purchase stages.”

MyTravelResearch co-director Carolyn Childs said while travel brands have “emotion” on their side, many struggle to “get cut through with a hard to find group with much less money to spend than other categories”.

“Every cent you spend on something that isn’t working matters more when you have limited budgets,” she said. “So understanding that level of granularity is vital to ensuring you are making efficient use of every dollar at a time when budgets are under pressure.”

OMD travel habits frequencyThe research detailed travel patterns and behaviour and examined which media channels consumers are using at various stages of a a six-stage purchasing cycle.

In what researches dubbed the ‘inspiration’ stage, TV content – including adverts, movies and general shows – resonated with Australian consumers, with search, word of mouth and face-to-face consultation with travel agents also playing key roles.

In the ‘trigger’ phase, TV was far less relevant while search, word of mouth and email were widely used.

“This speaks of a more targeted approach being needed to influence specific audiences,” McLean said. “And it also reflects the maturity of the advertising market.”

The relevance of online ads jumped in the planning stage, as did visits to airline websites, accommodation aggregators and apps which again stressed the importance of targeting, McLean said.

During the actual booking phase, airline websites were again key with search, retail travel agents and accommodation aggregators also important.

The research revealed traditional channels – outdoor advertising in particular – rise in importance when en route or at a destination.

Among what McLean and Childs described as “surprising” results were the number of Australians who said they had clicked on an advert – 34 per cent, which climbed to 54 per cent among Chinese travellers.

“My expectation in Australia was that few very people would admit to clicking on an ad,” Childs said. “Consumers in Australia, the UK and US almost don’t like admitting they have done that.

“The figure was higher in the Chinese study because they have not yet learned to be so cynical.”

Both McLean and Childs said the complexity of the journey, highlighted by the wide range of media channels used, “cannot be underestimated”.

“What the creation of this asset was about was to prevent the client worrying about the complication. We can now come into the conversation and we have answers,” Childs said.

“What this has done is break down labels. We have talked about online and offline, social verses traditional and they are all working together.”

Steve Jones


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