Jan 24 2024
Megan Reschke

Cookieless Advertising for Travel and Tourism Marketers


What comes to mind when you hear “2024”?

If you’re a digital advertising professional (and if you’re reading this, we’re going to hazard a guess that you are!) then chances are that “signal loss” and “third-party cookie deprecation” are some of the first words that bubble up. What seemed like a far-off future when the headline “Google Delays Third-Party Cookie Deprecation to 2024” first broke is now a reality, with the official (though gradual) cookie phaseout beginning in Q1 of 2024 and appearing set to wrap up before the year’s end.

For travel and tourism marketers who are already navigating a highly saturated market—and given consumers’ increased price sensitivity thanks to the tumult of the last few years—third-party cookie deprecation makes things all the more complex. As such, it’s critical that advertisers in the industry begin implementing and optimizing cookieless solutions now, if they haven’t done so already.

For specific insights on how travel and tourism marketers can approach this transition, we spoke to Nicole Stahlecker, VP of Integrated Client Solutions at Basis Technologies. With over a decade of agency and digital media expertise—and extensive experience in travel and tourism advertising—Nicole brings a wealth of knowledge to this discussion. Read on for her top recommendations for travel and tourism marketers as they approach privacy-first advertising in 2024.

What are the top considerations for travel and tourism advertisers as we move towards a cookieless future?

Nicole Stahlecker: So many travel and tourism marketers are sitting on a goldmine of first-party data. The problem? It’s often housed in distinct platforms across tons of different third-party vendors, rather than centralized in a customer data platform (CDP). Because that data is so disparate, marketers can’t action it collaboratively, or easily confirm when and how consent for it was given, since different platforms have different levels of privacy consent. This becomes particularly challenging for teams operating internationally, and as a result, they end up using only a limited amount of the data available to them and actioning it on the strictest of levels to ensure they’re meeting all data privacy regulations and requirements.

Since first-party data will be so critical to getting personalized messages in front of prospective travelers once cookies go away, finding ways to unify, organize, and maximize that data is absolutely key. To that end, there are two action steps marketers should take as soon as possible:

The first is to clean up existing data so that it’s organized and usable from a customer data privacy standpoint. This might include working with vendors and platforms to gain access to that data, and/or investing in a CDP. The second step is to come up with a plan for how to collect and house first-party data in a clean and organized way moving forward, so advertisers they can use it in future campaigns.

What cookieless marketing solutions are particularly useful for travel and tourism advertisers?

NS: When it comes to cookieless targeting, contextual targeting is key for travel and tourism marketers. There’s never going to be anything that beats that age-old marketing adage of putting your message in front of the right person, in the right place, and at the right time, and when it comes to those objectives, contextual targeting never lets us down. For example, tour companies know that the people most likely to book a tour are already going to be looking at other relevant information for that destination. By placing ads strategically near content about that location (such as on a travel blog that explores best times to book for that destination), advertisers can ensure they’re connecting with the right audience at a time when they’re likely in a decision-making mindset.

When it comes to attribution, leaning on your historical data will be most impactful. Just like keeping your first-party data clean, organized, and readily accessible is going to benefit your team, so too will keeping track of your campaigns and their results. Even though you won’t be able to track attribution the way you used to, you can compare your recent data to your historical data and make improvements based on that.

Could you provide some specific examples for how travel and tourism advertisers might approach the cookieless future?

NS: Sure! First, let’s imagine you’re a museum, and you have one location in a single destination. When it comes to targeting, you might take want to advantage of geotargeted digital out-of-home ads to capture the attention of tourists who are physically walking around near your museum and might be enticed by these displays.

For larger companies, or those with a presence that extends beyond a single location, you don’t want to overuse geotargeting—and you certainly don’t want to assume that you know where your customers are coming from, as you might miss out on potential audiences. For instance, let’s say you’re a hotel with multiple locations. You would likely lean more heavily on targeting based on your first-party data by linking your data collection with your advertising platforms. This would allow you to both target people who performed specific actions on your site, as well as create predictive (AKA lookalike) audiences to find similar users. You’d then be able to target these audiences based on their booking history, other individual actions on your website, demographic information, and more.

Wrapping Up: Cookieless Advertising for Travel and Tourism Marketers

The next several months will be a critical time for travel and tourism marketers to implement and fine-tune cookieless solutions to connect with their target audiences. By focusing on collecting, storing, and intentionally leveraging first-party data, as well as harnessing the power of contextual targeting, travel and tourism marketers can find success in today’s privacy-centric digital landscape.

Want to learn more about the state of identity in 2024? We surveyed over 200 marketing and advertising professionals to discover how they’re navigating signal loss, third-party cookie deprecation, and the shift towards privacy-first digital advertising. Check out all the latest data and insights in our in-depth report.

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