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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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.