The travel industry has obviously been hit hard due to restrictions on movement during the past two years. For travel and tourism brands, this has meant a period of dialling back advertising activity and biding time in anticipation of the easing of restrictions.
Fortunately, this gradually happened as 2021 progressed—with travel becoming more and more possible. This has resulted in a revitalization of ad spend by travel brands wishing to re-engage travel-deprived audiences.
As we head into 2022 this increased activity is set to take off, with a 36% increase in travel ad spend growth being predicted.
So, with travel ad spend rising, what are the best ad formats for it to be directed towards?
This article provides travel marketers with five recommended ad formats that are deserving of media budget allocation. These five specific formats have been chosen due to them having use-cases that are suitable for the challenges and objectives facing travel marketers. They are also relatively lesser known/used formats that will help to provide an edge over competitors.
Format #1 - TikTok In-Feed Ads
Source: TikTok For Business
During the period of reduced travel advertising activity, TikTok had been establishing itself as one of the most powerful ad channels available.
As a result of TikTok’s “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks” ethos, paid media content on the platform has come to play a unique role, aiming for authenticity by deploying ads that tap into the look and feel of native content.
For travel marketers, this can be an extremely effective way for reaching young, Gen Z and Millennial audiences—the age groups with the highest travel intent going into 2022. Along with this, TikTok also provides the perfect platform for travel brands wishing to get people excited about travelling again by engaging with their audience in a more casual, playful and friendly way.
TikTok has a diverse range of ad formats available to marketers. However, if we are considering which formats to make a staple in 2022, we would strongly recommend the In-Feed placement. Appearing within user’s For You pages, TikTok In-Feed ads are full-screen, vertical videos up to 60-seconds in duration, with a prominent CTA button that can be customized to fit your campaign objective.
By regularly releasing In-Feed Ads that are inspired by organic TikTok content, travel brands will be able to effectively engage a vast, highly tuned-in audience. We also recommend considering how you can utilize user-generated and influencer content in order to give your In-Feed creative even more relevance.
Format #2 - Instagram Reels Ads
In the same spirit as the entertaining, authentic, short-form video TikTok In-Feed format, Instagram Reels Ads are another powerful tool for travel marketers wishing to engage online audiences.
It’s no secret that Instagram is perhaps the most powerful platform when it comes to the topic of travel, with some even calling it the “modern day travel agent”, with a whopping 48% of people citing Instagram as the reason for choosing their travel destinations.
For marketers, the fact that so many people turn to Instagram in order to inform their travel decisions means that ads placed on the platform can be extremely powerful. This of course has been known for a number of years, however, Instagram has undergone a shift recently, from being a predominantly photo-sharing platform to a video one. The launch of the Reels feature in mid-2020 has played a huge role in this, and we strongly believe that Reels Ads—in the very near future—will become the platform’s flagship format.
In order for travel brands to maintain their relevance on the platform, they need to embrace this shift towards video and explore the Reels Ads format.
Format #3 - Facebook Instant Experience
One of the key challenges faced by many travel marketers when advertising online is the need to juggle audience’s short attention spans, with high amounts of information needing to be communicated.
If for example, you are promoting a destination, or a holiday package, there will be many aspects of your offering that you wish to convey to your audience: price, activities, culture, and accommodation—just to name a few. This can be difficult to do within a single 6 or 15-second ad, and will often require separate creative assets for each element.
However, what if you were able to communicate each aspect within a single format without losing the attention of audiences? This is what is offered through Facebook’s Instant Experiences.
Instant Experiences are full-screen mini-web pages that audiences are directed to via a lead-in ad placed In-Feed or in Stories. When the user clicks-through, they are transported into the Experience itself—an immersive space where they can swipe, click, and pan through a mixture of photo, video, and text elements.
The format enables you to essentially take your target audience on a customized journey and subsequently direct them to a landing page based on how they interact with the experience.
There are many use-cases within the travel industry for Instant Experiences: allow audiences to explore different destination options, highlight the key attractions within a city, or show off room choices in a hotel—the list goes on and on. The great thing about the format is that it allows you to get creative and customize something that is truly unique for your objectives.
Format #4 - Polling Ads
Whereas Instant Experiences are a great way to get audiences interacting with a lot of rich information, travel marketers can use Polling Ads to engage audiences through simple questions that they can then respond to.
Polling Ads can be used in Instagram Stories, Facebook In-Feed, or TikTok In-Feed Ads—with each having a slightly different interface that presents audiences with two clickable options for them to vote on.
Although simple, Polling Ads can be extremely effective at driving stronger levels of engagement due to the fact that they turn a passive audience into an active one by allowing them to have their say.
Just like with Instant Experiences, there are countless ways in which travel marketers can use this format—here are a few examples to highlight this...
- Where would you like to visit next year? Portugal vs. Malta
- What type of getaway would you prefer? Beach vs. Mountains
- What is your ideal accommodation? Cosy cabin vs. Urban loft
When it comes to Polling Ads, our key recommendation is to ensure that the creative you are using was designed with the polling purpose in mind. This means using visual cues that help to draw attention to the polling question and the two voting options.
Format #5 - Pinterest Standard Video Ads
Pinterest is another platform that you should be looking to utilize if you are not doing so already.
Pinterest holds a huge opportunity for travel marketers as Pinners use the platform to seek travel inspiration and plan their trips. In 2021, Pinterest recorded a 60% increase in travel related-searches year-on-year, highlighting the fact that eager travellers are flocking to the platform in order to plan their long-awaited getaways.
Based on these searches, Pinterest also offers travel marketers valuable insight into the different travel audience personas that exist on the platform. For example, in 2020-21 the rapidly growing personas were:
- Rural tourists: 80% increase in rural travel topic searches
- Outdoor junkies: 150% increase in searches relating to National Parks
- Digital nomads: 50% increase in searches relating to the digital nomad lifestyle
So, given that travel is such a popular topic on Pinterest, it makes a lot of sense to include the platform in your media mix if you are a travel marketer.
Pinterest has a wide range of ad formats available, however, the one we would recommend for 2022 is their Standard Video Ads. Video is playing an increasingly significant role on Pinterest, with users now watching close to 1 billion videos per day. The Standard Video format appears on a Pinner’s board and will auto-play once they encounter it.
The great thing about the format is that your ad will appear in relevant searches and will be surrounded by related organic content. This means that instead of interrupting user experience on the platform, your ad serves as valued content that Pinners are actively searching for.
Start your journey with Shuttlerock
If you’re looking for a creative partner who understands the travel industry and can help you to build attention-worthy creative for your 2022 campaigns, please feel free to get in touch with one of our Shuttlerock crew members.