Almost half (46%) of travel industry marketers regard the delivery of personalised ads and offers in real-time as the top challenge for the year ahead, according to a new survey that also highlights growing budget allocation for digital advertising.

Sojern, a digital marketing firm that specialises in travel and tourism, polled more than 600 travel marketers across 46 countries for its study, entitled State of the Industry: The 2019 Report on Travel Advertising.

Covering a broad range of travel advertisers, from those with budgets of less than $50,000 to those with annual spend of more than $1m, Sojern also revealed their other main challenges – each cited by 45% of respondents.

These include achieving ROI and profitability targets for their investments, targeting travellers during a specific point along their path to purchase, as well as keeping up with the fast-paced advertising and technology landscape.

Other issues regarded as challenging cover understanding how to use customer data more effectively (44%), driving direct bookings (42%) and managing pricing and profitability across distribution and marketing partners (42%).

However, the survey found that priorities differ depending on the size of the company. For example, 58% of respondents from large advertisers, with budgets of more than $1m, say personalisation is their top challenge, while 51% of small advertisers, with budgets of less than $50,000, say achieving ROI is their top concern.

“Personalisation [as number one for large advertisers], I think, is really interesting because I thought driving direct bookings would be the number one challenge, or measuring ROI,” said Jackie Lamping, Sojern’s VP of marketing, in comments to PhocusWire.

“It’s also interesting to see personalisation toward the top of the list pretty consistently from small- to medium- to large-size [businesses],” she added.

Turning from travel marketers’ priorities and concerns to the channels in which they intend to invest, the survey found that more than half (55%) say they will spend more this year on social media advertising.

A similar proportion (54%) intend to advertise on YouTube, while other prominent channels featuring in their plans include Instagram Stories (50%) and Facebook (49%).

“A big chunk of budget is already going toward social media, which means people are seeing results and wanting to move more budget there,” Lamping said.

“What’s driving that: Facebook and Instagram have been working hard on rolling out new ad formats that are working for travel brands that are very tailored to their needs,” she added.

Sourced from Sojern, PhocusWire; additional content by WARC staff