Online search drives travel purchases

comScore Media Metrix, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Media Contacts have released new research that quantifies the impact of Web search on UK travel purchases.

The research identified consumers who make travel-related searches, analysed their online travel search and buying behaviour and surveyed them for additional insight into their attitudes and offline purchase behaviour.

The results showed the three-month period from December 2005 through February 2006 generated 9.8 million travel purchases by 7.5 million UK consumers using Web searches to help plan their trip. Eighty-five percent of travel searchers reported that they completed a travel purchase either online or offline within 90 days of their initial search.

“The findings from this study are particularly significant given its focus on the UK market,” said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe. “Based on comparisons to research comScore has previously conducted in the U.S., this study demonstrates that search is even more important to UK travel planners than to their counterparts in the U.S. Forty percent of all searchers in the UK conducted a travel search during the analysis period compared to a lower 27 percent in a comparable study conducted among U.S. consumers.”

Study Quantifies Latent Impact of Web Search on Travel Purchases


When examining the online behaviour of UK Internet users in December 2005, only 10 percent of online travel transactions linked to search occurred immediately following the initial search referral, while the remaining 90 percent took place in subsequent days and weeks (considered latent purchases). Indeed, fully 45 percent of the purchases actually occurred more than four weeks later. Latent purchasing was even more dramatic among those who initially searched on destination-related terms, with 95 percent of purchasing taking place after the initial search referral.

“This research proves that the value of Web search marketing extends beyond direct marketing,” commented Paul Frampton, head of digital at Media Contacts UK. “The more fragmented nature of the online travel sector in the UK compared to the U.S., combined with more varied travel options available for UK travellers, make for a more intensive planning process, and an even stronger latent purchasing effect. To fully measure ROI, marketers must consider the latent and offline value of their search marketing campaigns and employ a measurement and optimisation methodology which accounts for delayed purchase behaviour.”

“The study clearly shows consumers consider search highly valuable in the travel planning process,” said Nick Jones, category development director at Yahoo! Search Marketing. “Marketers need to consider the strategic aspects of Web search as a method of discovery for new brands and services, and a key means of gathering information among travel planning consumers.”