Study: Marriott leads competitors on social media ad spend

Marriott had the most social media ad spend ahead of the holidays, according to new data examining social media advertising in the hospitality industry from BrandTotal, a social competitive intelligence and brand analytics platform.

To understand how leading hospitality/hotel brands are taking advantage of demand during this period, BrandTotal analyzed paid social media ad campaigns for five top chains—Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham, IHG and Hyatt—across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. In total, 517 paid social ads were analyzed over a 60-day period, Sept. 19-Nov. 17.

Marriott wins on paid share-of-voice
In an analysis of paid share-of-voice (SOV), which is defined by percentage of sponsored impressions, Marriott won with 93% paid SOV, compared to 5% for Hilton and 1% for IHG and Wyndham and 0% for Hyatt.

“On social overall, Marriott ads are the most likely to be seen by would-be travelers,” said Alon Leibovich, CEO/cofounder, BrandTotal. “They’re outspending the competition by a huge margin. Rival brands are getting crushed and losing customers.”

Despite beating all others on paid SOV, Marriott, however, came in second place on engagement. Marriott social ads saw 44,900 engagements over the 60-day period, whereas Hilton’s saw 49,200—the highest among the five brands analyzed.

“Paying to be seen is one thing,” said Leibovich. “Engagement is another entirely. Ad performance is driven by smart targeting and strong creative.”

Gen Z is the key demographic
Overall, Gen Z (18-24) was a key focus for the hotel brands analyzed, with half (50%) of all ad impressions targeting that demographic. Meanwhile, 28% targeted those 25-34, with 12% targeting those 35-44.

According to Emarketer, Gen Z is the most likely age group among U.S. adults to travel this holiday season, with 59% of those 18-24 saying they plan on doing so. This inclination decreases with older generations, with 41% of Baby Boomers and just 35% of seniors said they’ll likely take trips over the holidays.

“The pandemic is less of a concern for younger generations,” said Leibovich. “Hotel brands are aggressively targeting Gen Z and millennial holiday travelers.”

Beyond age, BrandTotal found that nearly three-quarters of the analyzed ads targeted women (72%) versus 28% for men. Additionally, the top states targeted over the period were: 1) New York 2) California 3) Florida 4) Texas and 5) Pennsylvania.

YouTube most popular social ad platform
The hotel brands focused the majority of their social ad budgets on YouTube (40% of all ad impressions), followed by Facebook (24%), LinkedIn (19%), Twitter (16%) and Instagram (1%).

“YouTube is a popular platform among younger adult audiences, including Gen Zs and millennials,” said Leibovich. “Its adoption across these brands reflects that.”