TripAdvisor’s owl eyes see a lot. Travelers have been using the site, known for its googly-eyed owl mascot, to research trips and hotels since its 2000 founding. Now, the Needham, Massachusetts-based company is planning to use the depth of information it has learned about its consumers to attract advertisers beyond travel and hospitality marketers. To that end, TripAdvisor is staffing up its advertising revenue team.
Late last year, it hired Lindsay Nelson, a media executive formerly with Vox, as president of core experience—in charge of marketing and platform experience. More recently, the brand tapped Christine Maguire as VP of advertising revenue, a new position, from Condé Nast.
“As an information platform, we know a whole lot about what travelers want,” says Nelson, noting details like income bracket, geography, demographics. “Our objective is to continue to build out a consumer experience that is deeply personalized,” she added, noting that such engagement can be monetized by a “premium advertising business.”
For example, TripAdvisor can sell ads to sunscreen marketers hoping to target consumers who are already researching a beach trip, or car companies looking to attract customers planning a road trip.
TripAdvisor recently reorganized its sales team and is exploring how it can better serve marketers by using its data, says Maguire, who notes that the effort will mature in the second half of the year.
TripAdvisor isn’t the only brand looking to grow its platform for external advertisers. Target recently announced a rebranding of the media network it first introduced three years ago. The entity, which courts advertisers with the lure of Target’s own first-party customer data, is now called Roundel.
Nelson says that unlike other platforms attracting digital advertisers, like YouTube and Facebook, which have questionable content, TripAdvisor’s travel site is a safer bet for brands.
“The content is related to travel. We don’t have terrorism videos or child porn. On the platform you know what you’re going to get,” she says, adding that consumers are typically in a positive state-of-mind when researching trips.
The new focus comes on the heels of TripAdvisor’s website redesign late last year into more of a social network, experience-based website. The brand has been trying to differentiate itself in an industry growing more crowded every day, with the likes of Google and Airbnb increasing their travel bookings and stealing market share from travel sites including TripAdvisor and Expedia.