Mobile Ad Spend Takes Off Slowly in Travel Industry - eMarketer

Newsletters Sign-Up

Plans & Pricing

Does My Company Subscribe?

Mobile Ad Spend Takes Off Slowly in Travel Industry

Digital ad spending in the travel industry will reach $4.85 billion this year

May 29, 2015

In comparison with other industries, US travel industry spending falls in the middle of the pack, making up just over 8% of total US digital ad spending and placing the industry sixth among all categories studied. That amounts to $4.85 billion in digital ad spending this year. Travel industry ad spending is expected to experience growth rates of 10% or more annually through 2017 and reach $7.27 billion by 2019, according to a new eMarketer report, “The US Travel Industry 2015: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends,” part of our new report series, “Digital Ad Spending Benchmarks by Industry.”

US Travel Industry Digital Ad Spending, 2013-2019 (billions, % of total digital ad spending and % change)

Industry executives confirm that digital as a percentage of total travel marketing budgets is inching upward. “It hasn’t spiked year over year, but every year, we start to see several percentage points more toward those digital investments,” said Claire Bishop, senior vice president of integrated media strategy for MMGY Global.

Travel industry digital ad spending overwhelmingly focuses on direct response, rather than branding, objectives. eMarketer expects that 72% of US travel industry ad dollars in 2015, or $3.49 billion, will focus on these direct-response objectives. This is a slight downward shift from 2014, during which, eMarketer estimated, direct-response spending made up 74% of industry expenditures. Travel continues to dedicate a higher proportion to the objective than any other industry.

Mobile’s share of total digital ad spending in the travel industry is creeping ever higher and in the future will represent a majority of the industry’s digital investment.

US Travel Industry Digital Ad Spending, by Device, 2015 (billions and % of total)

eMarketer expects mobile to make up $2.38 billion of digital ad spending in the travel industry, nearly half of the total, in 2015.

Travel advertisers interviewed by eMarketer confirm mobile spending is on the rise, thanks not only to more effective mobile ad formats, but also higher-quality offerings from mobile ad providers. “Depending on what part of the funnel they’re trying to address, mobile is playing a bigger and bigger part overall,” said Thomas Sudassy, senior manager of media research for Razorfish. “There are better opportunities and there are bigger players.”

Programmatic now accounts for 68% of US digital display ad spending by travel marketers, eMarketer estimates. The spending shift toward programmatic reflects not only its strong performance, but also an increasing commitment by travel marketers to the technology required to enable programmatic buying techniques. “The promise of programmatic in the past couple of years is now really starting to come to a place of maturity,” said Megan Tweed, vice president of media at Razorfish. “A lot of our clients are getting to the point where they can realize the benefits of that technology finally.”

eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

Download the executive summary of the report here.

eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.


  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.