Brand Safety in Digital Advertising - What Every Hotel Brand Needs to Know

By Brett Tabano Senior Vice President of Marketing, MediaAlpha | January 13, 2019

We live in a digital-first environment where hotels are increasingly reliant on digital advertising and marketing efforts to drive bookings. With the average American spending 24 hours every week online, digital advertising is a key strategy for hotel brands to achieve the greatest revenues.

However, brand safety and reputation can be challenging to maintain in the ever-changing digital landscape and is of paramount concern for hoteliers. With all of the competition, one cannot afford to have their well-earned reputation sullied by easy-to-avoid mistakes like poor ad placement.

Particularly today, where advanced algorithms more often than not determine where ads run and who potentially sees them, marketers are understandably concerned and confused about digital advertising and how to best protect their hotel's brand and reputation as "human touch" and oversight become further removed from the process. With widely publicized mishaps like an advertisement for beer placed next to a story on an 11-year-old charged with drunk driving or a tourism advertisement for Greece set next to a story on local riots, marketers are becoming increasingly skittish about digital advertising.

However, consumers are using their mobile devices more than ever to research business and travel options, and digital is a realm that can't be ignored if you want to succeed. In today's landscape, you are expected to deliver 24/7, convenient experiences wherever the consumer is - whether that be online or in person. Additionally, consumers are becoming savvier and are visiting numerous sites to gather information and comparison shop to find the best deal.

It's undeniable that in this environment, brands cannot afford not to be advertising online and therefore must take proactive measures to protect their brand and ensure that consumers get the best possible experience every time they encounter that brand online. As the well-known saying goes, "you are the company you keep," and because of this one of the most important factors to consider is ad placement. All it takes is one consumer sharing a screenshot on social media of your ad for a family-friendly hotel on an unsavory, adult-content site to cause tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Not to mention the extra time and effort it will take to get your brand back on track and in the public's good graces again.

This is why hotel brands should begin to shift budget away from traditional display media and move it towards comparison offers that drive greater value and more revenue.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.