Exclusive: Kayak on advanced search engine marketing tactics

Published: 09 Apr 2009

Exclusive: Kayak on advanced search engine marketing tactics

Attribution modeling is very important in understanding how customers consume media and how this consumption affects bookings on a site.

Based on these attribution models, travel companies decide upon the best search, bidding, and messaging strategies to meet their overall goals.

From travel search engine Kayak.com’s perspective, its manager, search marketing, Shehzad Daredia says, “We understand the importance of properly attributing credit to various marketing channels.”

“Our target consumers tend to interact with multiple different forms of media on a daily basis, and its clear that all of them play some part in leading to a conversion, with varying levels of direct measurability,” said Daredia, who is scheduled to speak during the forthcoming Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference (June 3-4, Miami).

According to Daredia, the challenge lies in determining how influential each channel is to driving the conversion, and consequently how much credit to assign to each channel or even sub-channel.

“Due to our heavy focus on ROI and data-driven decision making, we are not comfortable with blindly attributing an arbitrary amount of credit to a channel that otherwise cannot prove its performance. Hence, we tend to focus on efficient channels that show a clear and objective ROI, but we are open to evaluating new standards and approaches as measurability and attribution modeling improve in this regard,” said Daredia.

Daredia also spoke about how an integrated campaign covers wider ground and reduces CPA, the approach of bidding for longer keywords, not shorter ones and much more in an interview with EyeforTravel.com’s Ritesh Gupta. Excerpts:

Experts recommend that one should use more than just SEM. An integrated campaign covers wider ground and reduces CPA. What do you make of this and how can one use media differently for different parts of the funnel be it for brand consideration, destination search, tariff search, purchase and re-purchase?

Online marketers today have more tools and mediums at their disposal than ever before. Tactics such as contextual and behavioral targeting, remarketing, and personalisation of email marketing enable marketers to tailor their message to consumers at every point in the funnel. It is important to think through your business objectives by customer segment in order to determine which strategies make the most sense at different points in the funnel. For example, contextually relevant display ads ("smart ads") and text links are often effective in reaching a wide range of leisure travelers in the research phase. By advertising on review sites such as TravelPost, travel marketers can engage with consumers in the consideration phase. Finally, partnering with meta-search sites like Kayak enables suppliers to interact with in-market shoppers at the point of purchase. Once you have a proper understanding of business goals broken down by segment, it becomes much easier to successfully create a thoughtfully integrated campaign.

How do you assess the approach of bidding for longer keywords, not shorter ones? How can one be more specific in SEM buys and go for the long tail?

Google recently stated that most of the recent growth in travel query volume has come from the tail. In fact, the average number of terms in a travel-related search phrase has increased from 2.5 to 4+. Conversely, the head's query volume has dropped sharply. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated searchers, and it is important for search marketers to embrace this opportunity to provide more relevant ads for long tail keywords.

These longer, more specific keywords tend to be less competitive and hence less expensive; they also tend to convert better for advertisers, thus allowing advertisers to bid more for them accordingly. The specific tactics one can use to address the long tail will vary according to a company's business model, but Google's Search-based Keyword Tool and your own log files can help you find those specific queries that searchers have already used to get to your site organically. It is also helpful to share data between SEM and SEO to develop best practices and guide prioritisation of keyword expansion.

Which according to you is the easiest way to target search terms to reach a specific audience e.g. affluent traveler, conference delegates?

Targeting specific audiences is not always easy; it requires intimate knowledge of audience behavior, demographics/psychographics, etc.

The best way to target search terms to reach a specific audience is by first gathering and analysing data on your own customers and their behaviour on your site. Collect extra opt-in information from registered users in order to better understand their needs/preferences. Analyse behavior patterns such as the routes and destinations typically flown by business travellers on your site. Conduct surveys and focus groups to understand your customers' habits in greater detail. Bucket your keywords by type, and expand or exclude them based on the desirability of behaviour exhibited by visitors from those terms. Tools such as Google's Insights for Search and subscription-based competitive search intelligence services allow you to see which keywords drive the most traffic to certain sites or verticals. You may also attempt to utilise some of the targeting features provided by the engines; however, when working in a travel-specific context, some engine-provided targeting mechanisms (such as geo-targeting) may conflict with the intent of the searcher.

Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA

Kayak.com’s manager, search marketing, Shehzad Daredia is scheduled to speak during the forthcoming Online Marketing Strategies for Travel USA 2009 Conference (June 3-4, Miami).

Fore more information, click here: http://events.eyefortravel.com/online-marketing/agenda.asp

Or Contact:
Helen Raff
VP North America
+44 (0) 207 375 7582 (UK)
helen@eyefortravel.com

Related links: Kayak, Attribution modeling, CPA, SEM, keywords, behavioural targeting

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