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  • Written by Drew Bowering, Senior Director of Market Management, Expedia Group

Most of us in business have heard the old adage, “half of your marketing spend is wasted, but you do not know which half”.


We now no longer need that to be true. Why? Well, you see we used to talk about how many people are online, now we talk about how many are online constantly.


We’ve been saying that the future is mobile. Well, two thirds of all online traffic is now mobile1. Mobile is not just the future, mobile is now.


My point is that with so much searching and shopping happening online, we have very specific data to understand how to target effectively, which means online marketing spend can be optimised as there is true visibility.


Expedia Group conducted a lot of research in this space, and from that we’ve identified four fundamental themes that we need to hit for online success; (1) relevance, (2) trust, (3) convenience and (4) value2. By masterfully taking data and applying it to our online businesses, we can deliver on these while also eliminating wasted online spend.


For me, the first focus is relevance. It’s the theme technology has fundamentally turned on its head.


Relevance in the digital age is about identifying the correct intent in the exact moment it is intended. Put simply, the Netflix generation want it all, but they want you to find it for them and serve it up on that first page so that they don’t have to go looking for it.


Whenever you interact with your consumers online, you have to understand their needs at that precise moment or else you may end up wasting the spend you have invested to try to get that view. This is true whether this is through a marketing message, through Google search, or someone looking at a room photo on a website.


So what can we do? At Expedia Group, we’re tackling this through various ways, including the investment in technology. Specifically, data science technology.


As the world’s travel platform, our interactions with the consumer give us millions of data points that we can leverage to understand what consumers’ intent is, and how best to assist them in their conversions. We are harnessing the power of our global platform to take these millions of data points, wrap supplier tools around them, and provide insights that matter for their businesses.


In other words, we’re providing our hotel partners with value in the way that can masterfully take data and apply it to deliver relevance.


So is the implication that the world belongs to the large platforms who can access masses of data on a global scale? Absolutely not.


Instead, what we’ve seen is the rise of two types of platforms. On one side, we have the largest players - like the Alibaba and Amazon of the world. On the other, we have those with such a super tight specificity that they can drive equal relevance without needing to rely on big data.


Over time, we’ve witnessed that it is not just the big platforms that will continue to excel, but equally a rise in niche players hollowing out of the middle.


The niche players have a specialism which, when marketed correctly, allows them to drive as equal relevance as ‘the biggest’. It’s where relevancy can narrow marketing spend in such a targeted way, that nothing is wasted.


Relevance is the common denominator between the big and niche, and a direct response to the demands of today’s highly particular consumer.


For global platforms, that’s about harnessing the power of data science and machine learning, but for the most niche, that’s about delivering a particular and highly specialised experience.


It might seem odd to think that consumers can be loyal and simply swing between both, when the offering is so vastly different. Again, it comes back to relevance. Get relevance right and, no matter which side of the spectrum you sit, you’ll be able to crack the intent factor that our technology-driven world demands.


1 1Stone Temple, “Mobile vs Desktop Usage in 2018: Mobile takes the lead”, April 27th 2018. AdWeek, IAB/PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report, HY 2018

2 Five Retail Trends Shaping The 2018 Holiday Season and Beyond”, November 9th, 2018

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