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Online Advertising:
It's not the tool but what you do with it that counts

by Ritesh Gupta
May 16, 2012

Interview: Getting results from an online advertising campaign may not be easy but Barbara Pezzi, Director of Analytics & Search Optimisation at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, says it is possible. Here she shares some tactics for delivering online advertising benefits in a multi-channel world with EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta

Attribution models help travel marketers in assessing the impact of advertising spend decisions in a more comprehensive manner. They can also help reduce an over-reliance on first or last click attribution.  Indeed these models help in finalising the most effective marketing budgets - knowing where one should spend money is crucial. But this is not an easy task and the more platforms and channels get added to the online marketing mix, the more complex the situation.

The challenge lies in ongoing channel optimisation and finding the right models for each campaign’s objectives.  Uncovering more data about how consumers are influenced will open more opportunities for marketers, particularly in travel where research is very intense.

EFT: So with the development of social media, rich media, dynamic creative and online video, there is no shortage of ways travel advertisers can build brand awareness and loyalty. Do travel advertisers still judge online advertising by an ROI rather than a brand metric?
BP: I don’t think there is any definite answer. Each company and advertiser will have to decide what the goals of their online campaigns should be, be it ROI or brand awareness, based on their business requirements and budgets. In many cases advertisers will have multiple campaigns, each with different goals.

EFT: The last-click model disproportionately rewards low-funnel impressions or clicks from search engines and ad networks. Is this a flawed approach and how can one deliver a more holistic view?

BP: There is much more awareness about attribution now than there used to be a few years back. There are also a number of tools that can help advertisers in gaining a more holistic view of the purchase path over multiple sites and channels. However, we are still limited to what the technology can do, and ultimately, if someone uses different PCs and devices, clears their cookies daily or prefers to book offline, they are still very difficult to track throughout the whole purchase path.

I would not say though that the last click model is always flawed. Not everyone advertises on multiple channels and may only be able to afford a pay-per-click campaign, if that. In addition, there are plenty of companies that convert 90-95% of visitors after only one or two visits. In those cases, a last-click model would still be more than adequate.

EFT: The lack of actionable, truly useful metrics is a key reason that many major brands have been cautious in embracing digital advertising. How has the situation improved?

BP: I don’t quite agree. As opposed to offline campaigns, like print, which are almost impossible to accurately measure, online campaigns can be easily tracked in great detail. The point is rather whether companies have invested the time and money in implementing an analytics solution and employing someone to analyse the data in a useful manner.

Google Analytics is free, but you still need to know how to use it, interpret the numbers and understand what metrics to track. I think most major brands are aware of the importance of analytics and have made the necessary investments. It is probably still not the case across all small business.

EFT: Marketers need to assess all channels used in the steps to conversion in order to appropriately evaluate and weigh their online spending tactics. How can one go about this?

BP: First of all, there must be a strategy in place to actually set this up. Tracking needs to be accurately implemented. In some cases one might need a proprietary tool which will require further implementation. Ultimately one must decide how much budget you want to dedicate to the whole attribution measurement project and if resources are even in place to support it. If it is only a case of monitoring online behaviour across search and referring sites, it is not too difficult, but once you add call tracking, display or mobile, it becomes much more complex. A lot can be done with a ‘standard’ web-analytics tool, but if attribution is a major priority a specialised solution, like ClearSaleing or Visual IQ might be advisable.

EFT: How do you assess the recent release of ‘social reports’ within Google Analytics from a travel marketer's perspective?

BP: It is great news and knowing the Google Analytics team, we can expect these reports to keep on improving over time. I think the news has been welcomed by marketers across all verticals, not just travel. For sites with extensive social plug-ins integration, these new features will definitely help in understanding how those social interactions contribute to the overall site business goal conversions.

With this being available in Google Analytics, the wider exposure will result in more marketers revisiting their social media metrics and finally ensuring these are tied to their business goals and measured accordingly. At the end of the day, it is never about what a tool can do, but what people do with the tool.

EFT: ‘Social reports’ intend to bridge the gap between social media and the business metrics. Is this a positive step?

BP: I don’t think that all social activities should necessarily be measured by number of bookings and revenue generated, but I also do not think that it is healthy to measure social activity success by number of fans, followers or likes. There has to be a balance, and ultimately, the easier it is to track the interaction and business contribution of the channel, the more accountable social marketers will become. 

For a complete agenda and speaker roster, a complimentary copy of EyeforTravel’s official conference brochure click here.

Additional questions regarding this event which is EyeforTravel’s 9th annual Online Marketing Strategies for Travel The Americas & Caribbean conference, can be directed to Brian Smith, conference director, at or via phone at (201) 234-4764.

About EyeforTravel
EyeforTravel is a leading business intelligence provider for the online travel and tourism industry. As well as providing some of the most in-depth research into global online travel markets and trends, EyeforTravel produces a series of senior executive travel conferences on a diverse range of topics including travel distribution, online marketing, social media, mobile and revenue management.  For more information visit

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Brian Smith
Global Director of Events, EyeforTravel
(201) 234-4764

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