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 March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.