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Marriott International said on Monday it would shortly launch a media network to let advertisers reach its guests via the hotel group’s app and websites and, someday, the TVs in its guestrooms. Marriott and a few advertisers will test the media network in the U.S. and Canada in the next two weeks.
The hotel group will use anonymized customer data from past searches and reservations performed on its sites and app to enable brands to display ads relevant to travelers. For example, a brand might show luxury products in the Mariott Bonvoy app to a guest whose past online behavior revealed an interest in luxury travel.
Marriott said it would not share customer or loyalty member data, such as names and addresses.
“Marketplaces have been transitioning to ad models in e-commerce over the last two years,” said Martin Soler, an industry consultant. “Today, Amazon makes its most profitable revenue from its ad business. The OTAs [online travel agencies] are also adding ad layers to their business.”
The news is also an example of how Apple’s privacy effort launched around 2020 has impacted travel marketing. App developers increasingly need to get users’ clear consent to track their online behavior. As consumers opt out in large numbers, travel marketers think more about capturing and using so-called first-party data, or data like email addresses that consumers voluntarily share with brands, such as when joining a hotel loyalty program.
Google has also talked about cracking down on advertisements that rely on third-party data by reducing the use of so-called tracking cookies.
Marriott’s media network is a “demand and supply solution for the cookieless world,” said Iván Markman, chief business officer at Yahoo.
It will take time until Marriott fully rolls out an end-to-end solution that lets it display advertisements on guestroom TVs and in hotel lobbies and other venues. That promises to be a tantalizing opportunity for hospitality smart TV providers and connectivity partners, such as DirectTV, Comcast, and SoniFi
Industry leaders will watch closely how the company runs the media network. Marriott’s project is led by Chris Norton, senior vice president of marketing channels and optimization.
“There’s a risk for the Marriott brand if they send too much traffic away, and they should learn from how Amazon promotes products that can be bought on Amazon,” Soler said. “But I believe this is good for the industry. We need more ad options.”
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