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In A Normalizing Post-Pandemic America, Travel Ads Take Flight.


The travel industry has enjoyed a post-pandemic bump, and that has meant more ads each spring as Americans geared up for the summer travel season. But with the pent-up demand returning to more normal trends, the industry is turning up its marketing efforts — and Magellan AI says that’ helping podcasters. There was a 63% increase in travel category ad spending on podcasts between February and March, topping the 36% month-to-month bump seen a year ago.


“The growth came back in an even bigger way,” Magellan AI CEO Cameron Hendrix said on the company’s monthly podcast spending update. Magellan AI estimates the travel industry spent $7.5 million on podcasts last month, versus $3.4 million in March 2023. Even more promising is the firm says it detected 15 new travel brands spending in podcasts.


The biggest share of travel industry ad dollars went to shows in the Society & Culture genre, which Magellan AI says captured $1.6 million of the spending. News podcasts got $1.1 million worth of travel ads, while $723,000 went to Comedy podcasts. For the most part, travel brands are leaning into pre-produced ads. Magellan AI says just 11% of their commercials during March were host-read.


The biggest spenders among travel companies last month were Booking Holdings, the company that owns travel sites like Booking.com, Kayak and Priceline. It spent an estimated $1.1 million on podcast ads last month, versus just $36,500 a month earlier. Airbnb also spent $1.1 million per Magellan AI estimates, while Expedia Group spent $553,000.


Digging deeper in Booking Holdings, Hendrix said that while its spending lagged behind last year in January and February, there was a sharp increase in March. “If history is any guide, then you might expect that advertising spending will be sustained throughout Q2 and Q3, and then we may see a drop-off as we get closer to Q4,” he said.


Magellan AI data shows Booking Holdings spent the most in Sports podcasts ($384,000), followed by Comedy ($290,000) and True Crime ($179,000). Its data also reveals that the brand relied on just 6% of its ads being host-read.


Beyond travel, there has also been a marked growth in podcast ad spending by several social networks. Magellan AI says $2.4 million was spent by the various brands last month, which was a 206% increase from a year ago. It says the kid-targeted Zigazoo spent the most, allocating $1.3 million to podcast ads, while Meta ($618,000) and Kutt ($234,000) were also big spenders. Unlike travel companies, social networks were more likely to have embraced host-read ads. Magellan AI says 23% of social network ads were host-read during March. The top genres for social networks were Society & Culture, Sports, and Comedy.

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