Marriott ad sales leader on building a travel media network (don’t call it retail media) | Ad Exchange

Marriott is among a bunch of non-advertising companies that have recently launched programmatic advertising platforms.

Just don’t call Marriott’s new platform a Retail Media Network (RMN).

“I wouldn’t put us in that category,” said Elizabeth Donovan, global director and head of advertising revenue for the Marriott Media Network, as the new venture is called. “We’re a travel media network and I think more like a publisher too.”

Framing Marriott Media Network as a publisher, as opposed to a SaaS-based source of supply, is an important distinction. Although the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program has connected members and closed-loop attribution, which is similar to a retail media loyalty program, Donovan said Marriott will also focus on editorial and content solutions.

For example, traveler site Bonvoy offers editorial sponsorships — a Subaru campaign, for example, built around the idea of ​​family travel — and allows for possible podcast integrations and social media content creation. Eventually, Marriott Media could create custom video production campaigns for in-room TVs.

“Brands will partner with us to create our own content in the future,” Donovan said.

Yet Marriott is not a typical publisher.

Yes, the Marriott Media Network uses Yahoo as the exclusive SSP for their inventory, which is not out of the ordinary. But Marriott’s offering cannot be broadly targeted or measured in the universe of Yahoo’s open web programmatic inventory. A Yahoo ID identified on a Marriott hotel site will not sync with a Yahoo ID served at SomeOtherSite.com.

Marriott has had an advertising business for nearly a decade, according to Donovan, but this is its first programmatic offering and the first time its inventory has been bundled and sold to agencies, instead of working directly with major brand partners. , such as airlines and restaurants. booking services that display advertisements on screens in a hotel lobby.

And the company is still only taking small steps toward a strong holistic platform offering, Donovan said.

For one thing, the Marriott Media Network connects many disparate internal groups. Beyond building external sales relationships, for example, Marriott’s partnerships team identifies and contracts with partners such as ridesharing apps and airlines where there is one plus one equals three opportunities. to help each other grow.

But it’s different from the media sector. Bonvoy’s editorial team that creates personalized travel content is also a different group.

Pilot ad campaigns on the Travel Media Network begin this summer, Donovan said. But many of the early opportunities for growth will come first from Marriott.

Marriott is cautious about targeting and programmatic segmentation. Advertisers may want to use Marriott data to, for example, create segments of high-income luxury travelers who book luxury suites or hotels or, on the other hand, to reach people who buy rooms only. at promotional discounts or in cheaper hotels. But advertisers won’t be able to do that.

To start, the campaigns will be isolated by hotel brand. Sheraton, Westin and JW Marriott, all Marriott brands, can be purchased separately and anonymously. The same person who searched for rooms on multiple hotel sites wouldn’t even be deduplicated.

Nor is Marriott Media venturing into an audience network game. For now, at least, it will only show ads on Marriott-owned properties, including sites, apps, WiFi login portals, and anywhere they can fit an IAB standard unit.

“We’re not there yet, although we’re thinking about it,” Donovan said in reference to a potential audience-extension product.

Marriott also hopes to expand into non-endemic advertiser categories. Airline, rideshare, and restaurant reservations are obvious extensions for a hotel. But what about financial services or insurance companies that want to target high-end travelers?

“Not at the moment,” Donovan said. “We are focused on solving the nuances of travel and our customer experience.”

CPG and grocery-like brands were early adopters of the new retailer-based programmatic platforms. Part of Donovan’s job will be to demonstrate how a travel media network fits into a brand’s media plan by following, at least to some extent, the playbook of those who came before it. A clothing company, for example, might identify potential customers who go to a ski resort, and an entertainment company might promote shows, zoos, or any other fun activity to do in a particular city.

But, really, don’t call Marriot’s platform an NMR.

“I really want to reiterate,” Donovan said, “it’s not like a typical retail media network.”

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