Clicksco’s Digital Monthly – February 2018

Google go on the charm offensive, as duopoly challengers step it up and Travel marketers look to digital & AI to keep pace with shifting consumer behaviours – including newly launched Carbon

At the beginning of February, Clicksco launched its audience management platform Carbon into beta – check out the PR release here.

Google on the charm offensive

Google are clearly on a charm offensive after a number of moves in February.  Firstly; Chrome will now block bad ads that fail to meet standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads, further enforcing the roll out of Mute This Ad features to give more control to users such as preventing “reminder ads”. Secondly; they’re working with subscription publishers to help them identify potential subscribers, make it easy for them to subscribe, and serve a personalised search experience based on subscriptions. Thirdly; Google launched AdSense auto ads – an ad format that uses machine learning to automatically place ads in the optimum place.

Meanwhile; Google also continue their ambitions in travel as they announced new features for its flight booking service that will give users more flight details as well as enabling users to connect the flight and hotel search experience.  Even the prospect of continued falling CPCs & rising TACs didn’t dampen their month as Google reported a 21.55% rise in ad revenue to $27.28bn for Q4’17.

Positive month for the other Ad giant contenders too

With Merkle’s Q4’17 Search report showing slower Google spend growth and Bing & Yahoo seeing search ad spend growth of 32% YoY there’s opportunities beyond Google.  For instance; Marin reported a 75% rise in paid search CTRs in Q4’17 driven by publishers’ use of AI to better match ads with customers – a trend predicted to grow.  As well as leveraging AI in Search there’s also been a number of key ad developments elsewhere including the increase in spend on dynamic ad formats (e.g. shopping), Mobile CPCs were up 25%, and Social CPMs were up 44%.  Further enforcing the dominance of Search; Shareholic found that in 2017 Search outpaced social for referral traffic for the first time since 2014 driving 35% of site visits vs 26%.

The changing ad market is enabling others to stake their claim:


Meanwhile; Tim Armstrong says Oath is the answer to Facebook & Google problems around brand safety largely because of the quality of content being distributed. As such, Oath continue to strengthen this proposition as they rolled streaming service Go90 into Oath to give it better distribution. This move also plays well into their target to consolidate its DSP assets to give advertisers one place to go.

Digital Travel looks to Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

With Deloitte issuing an upbeat forecast for travel sales and Traveltek hailing 2018 as the year of cruise, there’s plenty to look forward to in travel this year.  Data in travel is going to be critical yet 51% of travel companies struggle to collect accurate customer data with reasons around compliance a key issue.  Chatbots are also slowly creeping into travel as Teletext Holidays launched Messenger bot to assist customers (and 1.2bn Facebook Messenger users) in booking holidays; whilst Sabre launched Ella – a new travel agent chatbot.  According to Econsultancy; 40% of ecommerce agencies & 59% of client-side ecommerce players are planning to experiment with conversational ecommerce this year.


In this year’s Travel Innovation report, Artificial Intelligence is being tipped as a key technology in enabling travel firms to keep pace with changing customer behaviour.  Whilst IT spending by the UK travel sector grew 5% last year to £1.6bn, that’s down on the 2016 growth rate of 7% though it still matches other industry averages.  Software accounted for 25% of IT travel spend last year – the 2nd largest category.

Data-driven TV Ads

TV and digital continue to be mentioned in the same breathe with advanced TV media buying coming closer to mainstream driven by the development of identity resolution, data lakes and measurement tools.  Even without this advanced TV media buying, with 60% of TV’s response impact comes through digital media channels’ need to align TV and digital is huge.  Check out AT&T’s advertising pitch deck showcasing their programmatic direct private marketplace -whilst this is US-focused it underlines the battle for OTT TV on a global scale too, and the ad opportunities available.

Marketers need to walk the data walk

According to Ascend2; only 51% of marketers are integrating data across marketing tech leaving nearly half potentially being left behind.  Top priorities for marketers include using analytics, data quality, and integrating data across tech; whilst the top challenges include integrating data across tech, generating reliable/relevant data, and improving data quality. According to Foresight Factory; 51% of UK consumers view data as essential for smooth running of the modern economy, with as many as 38% of younger age groups being unconcerned by data privacy.  The commonality in data acceptance is the exchange for clear benefit or enhancement of services, whilst transparency is also key.



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