Online travel advertising soars despite retail slump

Despite a major setback after the September 11 terrorist attacks, online travel advertising soared in 2001. According to data from Jupiter Media Metrix` AdRelevance service, online advertising for the travel industry began a sharp increase the second week of May 2001 with 291.9 million impressions and peaked in the fourth week of August with 1.1 billion impressions, a 263% increase.

While impressions plummeted during the second week of September and bottomed out at 574.4 million during the first week of October, the industry has since returned to 94% of its pre-September levels.

“The early 2001 launch of put a surge into travel advertising, with the industry more than doubling between the spring and the end of summer,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president, media research, Jupiter Media Metrix. “However, the industry took a major hit on September 11, as travel companies halted advertising out of respect for the victims, as well as to promote disaster relief efforts. But the sector has showed incredible resiliency as booking services and airlines have turned to the Web to reach out to consumers during the busy holiday season.”

Among the top ten online travel advertisers—ranked according to their share of total travel impressions for the week ending December 2, 2001—four are online agencies, making up 64% of the market, and three are airlines, making up six%. The top advertisers are: Orbitz with 44% of the travel market, Travelocity with 13% and Hotwire with 5%.

While most of this year`s major online advertising growth-indices compare closely with those in 2000, the retail sector has been mixed and is now off to a slow start to the historically frenzied holiday period. So far this season, weekly online ad impressions for the retail sector have reached 3.7 billion in the fourth week of November, up 8% from 3.4 billion in the first week of October. This compares to last year`s growth rate of 18% over the same period, when weekly impressions increased from 2.4 billion to 2.9 billion. Retail advertising last year eventually peaked in the fourth week of December at 3.7 billion impressions, up 53% from the first week of October.


“This year`s holiday ramp-up has yet to reach the growth trajectory of last year`s,” Buchwalter said. “Declines in consumer confidence resulting from the economic downturn as well as the September 11 attacks may be responsible for the delayed increase in retail advertising. We`ll be watching closely to see if the sector catches up in the final days of the holiday shopping season.”

The top online advertisers—ranked according to their share of total retail impressions—for the week ending December 2, 2001 are: with 16%, Barnes & Noble Inc. with 11% and Columbia House with 10%.