Expedia Launches Travel Media Network, Expanding Ad Business to Include Offsite Buys

For buyers, conversion-based measurement is key

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Advertisers can now target Expedia audiences across the open web.

The capability comes with the launch of Expedia’s travel media network, building on the travel company’s 20-year-old advertising business. According to the company’s most recent earnings report, advertising and media through Expedia Group Media Solutions accounted for $145 million in revenue in the first quarter, up from $99 million in Q1 of 2023.

“We can appeal to—especially with audience extension—anybody that’s going after that travel audience. It could be automotive or financial services or retailers,” Jennifer Andre, vp of business development at Expedia Group Media Solutions, told ADWEEK. “This gives us a lot more opportunity to proactively speak to those advertisers and connect them to travelers in the right places.”

Taking a page out of the retail media playbook, Expedia announced the new travel media network, an evolution of its ad and media business to include offsite targeting and expand its appeal to non-endemic advertisers, today at its annual Explore 24 partner event in Las Vegas.

Expedia’s travel media network is one of the dozens of companies—inside and outside of traditional retail—using first-party data to expand offsite advertising capabilities for brands in recent years, especially as the deprecation of Google’s third-party cookie looms.

Going offsite

While the high-income audiences that Expedia attracts are enticing, the quality of the network’s measurement tools could make or break the opportunity for some brands, media buyers told ADWEEK.

“Expedia offers a highly qualified audience opportunity,” said Dan Maguire, director of retail media at agency GALE. “It will be interesting to see how many sectors can make use of this audience especially as they start leaving the hospitality realm and cross over into more conversion-dependent brands in verticals like grocery or beauty.”

The company gathers data from over 200 points of sale in 70 different countries, explained Rob Torres, svp of media and affiliate solutions. While sponsored listings and display offerings have long been available in Expedia’s ad business, advertisers will now be able to target Expedia audiences on connected TV, video and social, he said, with measurement all in one place.

Hotels and other properties that buy sponsored listing ads on Expedia get 120% more bookings and 50% higher conversion than non-enrolled properties, the company said.

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Finding competitive advantage

The challenge for advertisers, as with retail media networks, is how to leverage Expedia’s data relative to competitors that have access to the same pool of audience data.

“How do competing hotel portfolio brands benefit if they’re both leveraging the data from a competitive conquesting perspective?” asked Dave Kersey, chief media officer at Austin-based Omnicom agency GSD&M.

The travel media network also includes Expedia’s in-house creative team and media buying platform. In the past, the company has worked with Visit California, the state’s destination marketing nonprofit, to place co-branded ads at London’s Heathrow airport—inventory that was exclusively available through Expedia. The campaign generated 275 million impressions, according to the company.

Another example from the in-house creative team features a short film about Scotland, hosted by actor Ewan McGregor and as part of the company’s Local Lens series, and was viewed 8.7 million times on YouTube, the company said, and social posts received click-through rates that were 10 times higher than average. The company wouldn’t share how this impacted revenue.

Expanding audience targeting offsite lets brands meet consumers in all the different places they end up while booking travel—something that’s become “a pretty manic process,” Andre said. While they might start with a site like Expedia, they’re also “going to search and social and then they’re coming back to online travel agencies,” she explained. “We want to be able to capture them where they show up.”

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