$170 Mil. Expedia to Doner

BOSTON Expedia.com has confirmed hiring Doner to handle its ad account following a review. Estimated billings are $170 million.

Interpublic Group’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., and Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., also competed in the final round.

All three of the agencies have ties to the client. Doner, an independent in Southfield, Mich., works for Expedia sibling Hotels.com. That link, as well the agency’s retail acumen, helped it land the Expedia assignment, according to sources.

Mullen and TBWA\C\D work respectively on LendingTree.com and Ask.com, both units of InterActiveCorp, which spun out its travel-related businesses under the Expedia banner two years ago. Former Hollywood mogul Barry Diller is chairman of both IAC and Expedia.

Client executives met yesterday to approve the final decision, sources said.

An Expedia representative confirmed Doner’s selection for both creative and media chores but offered no other information. Agency executives either could not be reached or declined comment.

Cut from contention in the semifinals were WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron United and IPG’s McCann Erickson, both in New York.

Expedia parted with IPG’s Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif., which handled both creative and media for the client since its inception seven years ago [Adweek Online, May 18].

The agency’s recent ads for Expedia have been tagged, “Enjoy your trip.”

The review process was managed in-house by Expedia executives.

Sources said the decision to hold a review was based at least in part on the company’s recent lackluster financial performance.

Also, Expedia saw its market share erode 5 percent in the first six months of 2006 versus the comparable year-ago period, though it still leads the online travel segment at 35 percent, according to consultancy PhocusWright in Sherman, Conn. The No. 2 player, Travelocity, saw its market share increase 5 percent to 25 percent during the same period. The next two players, Orbitz and Travelport, have about 15 and 8.3 percent, respectively. Their numbers were flat compared to the year-ago period.

Separately, Expedia rival Priceline.com is currently reviewing its $50 million account [Adweek Online, Aug. 21]. The incumbent is IPG’s Gotham in New York, which is expected to defend.

Priceline ranks fifth in the online travel segment with slightly more than 8 percent of the market in the first six months of 2006, up from 6.7 percent during the same period a year ago, per PhocusWright.

This story updates an earlier item with client confirmation of Doner’s selection and notes that the review was managed without the assistance of an outside consultancy.