Keep in mind when Expedia needed to scale back its reliance on Google? Massive 180 diploma shift now – Skift

Other times called for redesigned strategies, and that’s the case with Expedia Group in terms of their paid marketing approach to Google.

A new Bernstein report found that Expedia Group generated three times more paid search traffic on US desktops in the first quarter of 2021 than Booking.com, Airbnb and Tripadvisor combined. Expedia.com had 1 million more visits from paid search in March 2021 than in March 2019 before the pandemic.

Expedia is a big funder in paid search

Source: SimilarWeb, Bernstein

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You may recall that weeks before Expedia Group ousted then-CEO Mark Okerstrom, he lamented the fact that the company was overly reliant on paid marketing from Google, which he described as Expedia’s biggest competitor. Current CEO Peter Kern also said his goal is to reduce Expedia’s reliance on Google.

Expedia Group preferred branding for Vrbo over Expedia.com

Source: SimilarWeb, Bernstein

But then came the pandemic, where Expedia Group invested large sums of money in TV ads and videos for Vrbo, which gained market share during the pandemic when trips on vacation away from densely populated urban areas became a trend. Vrbo generated 2.1 million display ad visits in the first three months of 2021 – twice as many as sister company Expedia.com, Tripadvisor, Booking.com and Airbnb combined, according to the Bernstein report. The research report focused on online travel agencies in 2025.

Expedia’s Kern said a few weeks ago that the company was opportunistically focusing on markets like the US for Vrbo because that’s where it saw the biggest uptrend.

While there are times when it makes great sense to reduce a company’s reliance on audience acquisition by paying Google to advertise, a nimble company can and should change direction in changing circumstances. Still, Expedia certainly has the long-term goal of getting customers to go straight to its websites without paying Google for the privilege.

One irony of the spike in paid marketing from Expedia is that Airbnb faced a lot of criticism in 2019 for increasing its paid marketing, and there were many questions about whether Airbnb could or would have to keep its momentum just because of its own branding of importance bow from google.

However, few hold Expedia accountable for turning to paid marketing – and it has used Google and video marketing to make a profit.

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