The Travel Marketeer examines data, insights, and ideas around marketing, creative testing, and ways travel brands can improve the online customer experience. In this installment, we share ideas on how to use search behavior trends in travel to inform creative optimization.


Google recently released its updated “Travel Dashboard,” which is a data tool that shares useful insights on travel-related search trends. At Boost Media, we are obsessed with creative and how to use data to inform creative. So, we’re sharing three ways this new Google data tool can be used to inform travel creative optimization decisions:

1. Launch creative tests before seasonal peaks

“Hotel queries peaked in July and were up 13% YoY in Q1.”

Travel Dashboard — A Look Back at Recent Trends

Understanding the timing of search activity helps prioritize when to test and optimize creative cross different categories like air, hotel, and rental cars. If hotel search volume peaks in late July, launch tests before July so you have only the highest revenue-per-impression ads live before the search volume surge begins.

Simply by adjusting the timing of testing takes little additional time or effort, but can lead to significantly better results. Not only do you maximize revenue opportunity from search volume peaks by running the best possible ad creative, you increase the value of the creative testing itself.


2. Test both destination and origin names in ad copy

Source: Travel Dashboard — A Look Back at Recent Trends


Unlike many other forms of advertising, search marketers have a high degree of control when it comes to geo-targeting. One often overlooked geographical optimization is to play with location messaging in ad copy. Google search trend data shows that there’s a high rate of interest from people in Las Vegas searching for destinations like San Diego and New York. This creates an opportunity to capitalize on location messaging on a more granular level.


AdWords Preview on Las Vegas search results for "fights to san diego"

AdWords Preview on Las Vegas search results for “fights to san diego”


As you can see in this Ad Preview screenshot taken of the search results in Las Vegas, most travel brands use only the destination names in SEM ads with messaging such as “Flights to San Diego.” But since the user is physically located in Las Vegas, interested in San Diego and the search volume is very high for this route, it would be worth testing route-specific messaging by calling out “Fights from Las Vegas to San Diego.”


3. Test mobile-preferred ads, especially in hotel ad groups

Source: Travel Dashboard — A Look Back at Recent Trends


According to Google search data, mobile search volume on hotel-related terms has grown 49% year-over-year. Surprisingly, many brands are behind the curve in implementing and testing mobile-preferred ads. This represents a tremendous opportunity to capture hotel business on mobile devices.


A quick way to boost mobile performance is to evaluate which existing ads in an ad group perform best on mobile, and then adjust the setting of that ad to be “mobile-preferred.” There is, however, an even greater lift to be realized through in-depth mobile-preferred testing, particularly with more people searching for last-minute hotels and local attractions from their mobile devices.


Data-informed creative optimization

It’s usually preferable to use your own first-party data to inform marketing decisions. But there is value in stepping back to evaluate the overarching trends and benchmarking what you know to be true against industry data. Evaluating search behavior trends like this can help inform creative testing with data, identifying optimization opportunities that may be missed with a more narrow view that’s focused solely on your own historical data.



About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale.

The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.