No wonder travel companies find it hard to compete with the Priceline Group – the company splashed out a record $3.5 billion on marketing last year.
Google was most likely the primary recipient of the company’s eyewatering ad spend, confirmed in its filing this week to coincide with its full-year financial results.
Speaking to analysts during the Priceline Group’s earnings, chief financial officer Dan Finnegan says core search (PPC) is “still an important” of its marketing strategy, despite the emergence of new channels such as Facebook.
Google is the company’s biggest advertising channel, Finnegan says, with the group being “pleased with the results we’re seeing there”.
Regarding Facebook advertising, CEO Glenn Fogel says the group’s marketing teams continue to work with the social networking giant to “improve its products”, so that more marketing money can be invested it in.
This says quite a lot about the state of the online travel business.
But turmoil is coming to the online travel industry. With Google Travel business already twice the size of Expedia, Google Flight searches going through the roof, Ctrip attacking the travel duopoly from China and AirBnB going through an identity shift while it is building a flight search engine and other new offerings, things are about to get interesting.
Everyone who relies heavily on Google advertising, like Priceline and Expedia, doesn’t seem to have the deepest moat on the consumer front. (As this is transaction based and not brand building per se.)