Cheap Flights & Other Top Travel Keywords in Paid Search Advertising

‘Cheap, cheap’ is not the sound of the birds returning this spring, it’s the mantra of American travelers.  AdGooroo examined Desktop Text Ad activity on 50,000 travel-related keywords on U.S. Google from January to April 2015 and found nearly 3,600 keywords containing the word ‘cheap’, including four in the Top 20 keywords based on Paid Search spend.

Travel Keywords 2015

‘Cheap flights’ was the top keyword by far, with nearly $10 million in spend during the period—nearly 3 times more than the #2 ranked keyword ‘hotels’ ($3.5 million) and nearly 4 times more than ‘flights’ (without the adjective ‘cheap’), which ranked #3 with $2.7 million.

‘Cheap flights’ also generated far more impressions than any other keyword in the Top 20—nearly 191 million.  The average number of impressions garnered by the remaining 19 sites in the Top 20 was 29 million.

Of note, ‘cheap flights’ was the top keyword by spend for the same period in 2014 as well. However, advertisers spent far less on the term during this time last year, $7.6 million compared to $10 million in 2015, due to factors such as fewer total impressions than in 2015 (180 million vs. 191 million) and a lower average cost per click ($1.44 vs. $1.70)

When factoring in paid search spend on ‘cheap tickets’ ($1.8 million) and ‘cheap airline tickets’ ($1.5 million), advertisers spent a total $13.3 million on 3 terms in the Top 20 related to low-priced plane tickets.  Looking at it another way, 47% of all spend on the Top 20 Travel Keywords was related to cheap airline tickets.

‘Cheap hotels’ ($1.4 million) also made the Top 20.

Brands in the Top 20

There were 9 brand keywords in the Top 20, including ‘expedia’, ranked #4 with $2.6 million in spend, ‘priceline’($1.7 million), ‘orbitz’($1.6 million),  ‘travelocity’($1.6 million), ‘enterprise’ ($1.4 million), ‘us airways’($1.3 million), ‘hertz’($1.2 million),  ‘southwest’($1.2 million),  and ‘royal caribbean’ ($1 million).

Otherwise the ranking is comprised of 9 generic keywords and only 2 destination terms, both of which were specific to Las Vegas.

2015 Top Travel Destinations by Clicks

Changing perspectives, we also ranked the top travel destination keywords by consumer clicks to get more insight on where all of these frugal travelers are looking to fly this year.

As we found in past years, family-friendly Disney theme parks and decadence-friendly Las Vegas were tops.

Travel Keywords Destinations 2015

Three Disney destination keywords accounted for more than 3 million consumer Paid Search clicks on U.S. Google from January to April, 2015, including ‘disney world’, ranked #1 with 1.5 million clicks, ‘disneyland’, #3 with 813,000 clicks and ‘walt disney world’, #5 with 737,000 clicks.

There were five Las Vegas-related keywords in the Top 20 Destinations, including ‘las vegas’, #2 with 828,000 clicks, ‘las vegas hotels#” (751,000 clicks), ‘las vegas hotels’ (454,000 clicks), ‘mgm grand’ (296,000 clicks) and ‘mandalay bay’ (282,000 clicks). However, the combined total of the Vegas terms, 2.6 million clicks, was fewer than the 3 million clicks generated by the 3 Disney destination terms.

U.S. travelers looking for a tropical/beach vacation researched ‘costa rica’ (504,000 clicks), ‘turks and caicos’ (451,000 clicks), ‘aruba’ (350,000 clicks), ‘bahamas’ (310,000 clicks) and ‘punta cana’ (293,000 clicks) more than any other destination outside of the U.S. For the same period in 2014, tropical vacation spots ‘puerto rico’, ‘hawaii’ and ‘dominican republic’ were among the Top 10 most clicked travel destinations. However, none made this year’s Top 20.

Closer to home (and Disney theme parks), ‘universal studios’ (684,000 clicks), ‘universal orlando’ (399,000 clicks) and ‘seaworld orlando’ (312,000 clicks) all made the Top 20.

In addition, if you were thinking of heading to South Carolina for a getaway this year, you won’t be alone. There were three S.C. keywords in the Top 20 destinations, including ‘myrtle beach hotels’ (345,000 clicks), ‘myrtle beach’ (296,000) and ‘charleston s.c.’ (282,000).

Lastly, the only national monument to make the Top 20 ranking was ‘statue of liberty’ with 286,000 clicks.

For more on the Travel industry, read last week's AdGooroo ranking of the Top Travel Advertisers in Paid Search.

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