The Current, delivered daily.
As summer arrives, travel appears poised to bounce back in a big way. While vacationers make their plans and get their packing lists together, Marriott has a new way for brands to reach travelers during their journey.
In a first for the hospitality industry, the hotel brand is partnering with Yahoo to launch the Marriott Media Network. This will allow advertisers to reach brands across Marriott’s digital and physical properties.
How will it work?
- Whole journey: Marriott will offer curated content experiences where brands can showcase products and services to travelers during a purchase, pre-arrival and during their stay. When the network is fully-deployed, Marriott will be offering inventory across display, mobile, video, email and digital out-of-home (meaning, in-room television and digital screens). Marriott plans to use anonymized data from bookings and searches on its digital channels to target ads, and will pilot this month with advertisers, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- What’s the reach? Initially it will be in pilot mode, available in the U.S. and Canada. Eventually, Marriott has plans to expand it to travelers globally to encompass more than 164 million members in Marriott Bonvoy, the company's rewards program. In all, Marriott says it has 8,000 properties under 30 brands spanning 139 countries.
- Full stack: The partnership with Yahoo spans supply and demand side. Yahoo’s supply side platform is serving as the access points for advertisers seeking to purchase inventory. In turn, the Yahoo ad sales team will lead demand generation and sales across Marriott paid media and the Marriott Media Network, using Yahoo’s demand side platform.
Why does it matter?
It’s a sign of how digital advertising is evolving. Flush with third-party data, advertising technology and lots of users, platforms like Facebook have been the go-to option for brands seeking to reach customers over the last decade. But with rising customer acquisition costs, privacy changes by Apple and the forecast demise of the third-party cookie, brands are seeking new avenues to reach consumers.
This is leading to new advertising solutions beyond social platforms. Among the most popular are in-house media networks created by consumer marketplaces. Under this model, a marketplace uses customer data to target ads that are displayed within the marketplace itself. After the success of these models from Amazon, Walmart and Kroger, retailers like Nordstrom and Michaels launched their own media networks in the first quarter of this year.
The Marriott Media Network is bringing this concept to travel, where large audiences visit platforms to book and manage trips. It allows Marriott to offer advertisers new ways to reach travelers – an audience that is often in discovery mode with discretionary funds available. Going beyond advertising future bookings, a media network can allow advertising for products that travelers may be interested in, such as personal care items, weather-specific clothing or experiences in the locale they are visiting. As Marriott put it, “Marriott's audience has intent, and travelers will be in the right mindset when receiving these offerings.”
In turn, the ability to leverage anonymized data that will help to curate the content will allow a more focused experience for travelers, Marriott says.
Equally, it's notable that Marriott's rewards program is involved. In this new wave of digital advertising, first-party data, or data collected directly from customers, is key. Loyalty programs, such as rewards programs, are key to gathering this type of data.
From airlines to hotels, rewards programs have long been a mainstay of the travel industry. The media network points to how they can play a role in powering digital experiences, as well. Here's a quick breakdown:
- Marriott recently redesigned its Bonvoy app. In the first quarter, downloads rose 70% over the first quarter of 2019, Skift reported.
- Bonvoy also helps Marriott go directly to travelers when they book. In the first quarter, the company reported an increase in direct digital bookings of 14% over the first quarter of 2019.
- Bonvoy helps Marriott offer links to services beyond its hotels. Even before the network, Marriott had a deal with Uber that allowed customers to earn points.
Linking a media network with a rewards program could allow Marriott to add content alongside the perks Bonvoy offers. In the future, it's not hard to imaging them being linked together. Meanwhile, the rewards program is likely providing data that powers the curation of content.
With the resumption of activities like travel after the pre-pandemic lull, there will be lots of focus on whether business is returning to pre-pandemic levels. But it's important to remember that these in-person activities are also returning to a world that is more comfortable in digital modes, and one where new business opportunities exist within that digital ecosystem. Look for the companies that power these experiences to behave more like tech platforms, as well.
Trending in Marketing
Tech giant launches capabilities for retailers to help brands advertise onsite, across the web and in-store.
Microsoft is making a bigger move into retail media as it seeks to beef up advertising offerings for brands and retailers.
On Tuesday, the tech giant shared details on new capabilities for retailers seeking to use their first-party data for advertising on their websites, other digital channels and on in-store signs.
First launched in 2019 following an acquisition, Microsoft’s PromoteIQ is powering advertising on Sephora’s website, and is adding capabilities for Kroger’s retail media arm. With a slate of new releases, the company said it is building out a complete omnichannel retail media stack for retailers.
It comes as retail media continues to gain favor among brands and retailers for its ability to realize advantages in ecommerce marketplaces and use first-party data from purchases and loyalty programs to reach shoppers based on their actual profile. eMarketer projects retail media spend will reach $61.2 billion in 2024 in the U.S., which is nearly 20% of total digital ad spend.
Retail media has gained steam as Amazon showed how search advertising through its massive and much-visited marketplace could power a massive part of its business, and Apple's iOS changes made first-party data more valuable in targeting. A host of other retailers have launched retail media networks in the last year, but they work with technology companies to power various capabilities and access different types of inventory. Microsoft is one of those providers, and now it is looking to get bigger. It helps that the tech giant can draw on an existing ad network that powers search-related advertising on Bing, as well as its other properties. With the new capabilities, it is looking to create a single platform through which retailers can reach multiple channels.
Here’s a look at what Microsoft is announcing:
A retail media network
Microsoft shared on Tuesday that it will roll out a new network to help retailers offer brand advertising on their websites.
In a blog post, Microsoft announced the pilot release of the Microsoft Retail Advertising Network with the goal of helping retailers monetize inventory and drive incremental traffic to their websites. This is achieved by partnering with “hundreds or even thousands” of brand advertisers that are in the Microsoft Advertising ecosystem.
“Retailers can hit a saturation point where they’re unable to get more demand from their largest brand partners,” Kya Sainsbury-Carter, VP of global partner at retail media at Microsoft Advertising. “This is where the Microsoft Retail Advertising Network comes in, helping retailers unlock new budget from the broader array of Microsoft Advertising brands that also sell on a retailer’s site.”
Kohl’s, the department store retailer with an ecommerce app and website, is an initial adopter of the network, Microsoft said.
Through the network, brands that use the Microsoft Advertising platform will be able to set up campaigns specifically for retailer websites, as well as on Microsoft properties and partner networks. Microsoft said it automatically matches retailers and corresponding brands, while directing interested shoppers directly to retailer websites.
Another new tool will allow retailers to use their data to help brands reach shoppers beyond their own website.
Promote IQ Offsite is a new feature that will allow retailers to use first-party data from retailers for third-party inventory on the open and social web. In February, retailers will be able to use this platform to put their first party data alongside data from Microsoft and lookalike audiences from Facebook and Instagram owner Meta for targeting.
BJ’s is already using Microsoft’s onsite and offsite capabilities for its recently launched retail media offering, called BJ’s Media Edge.
In particular, Microsoft sees potential to deploy this offering for Connected TV (CTV), which is advertising through streaming platforms. In this context, it’s worth noting that Microsoft is powering Netflix’s ad-supported tier.
“By leveraging shopper data, retailers can help brands to target and evaluate the impact of their CTV ads – a capability that’s expected with other digital media and across devices – now on the biggest screen in the house – the TV,” Sainsbury-Carter wrote. “Retailers will be able to derive actionable insights through unified reporting and attribution, an incredibly important measure whether in a boom time or in times of economic uncertainty.”
Another surface where advertisers are looking to expand digital inventory is at brick-and-mortar stores. This type of advertising connects physical and digital. In-store ads are served over the web, then appear on connected signage at point-of-sale systems and within aisles. Microsoft said it completed a proof-of-concept for an in-store offering. The company intends to launch this capability within the next 12 months.