The Newsletter Is Out: Light at the End of trivago's Tunnel? Airbnb: Work + IB, From GDPR to CCPA, Booking.com's Keywords, Google's "Near" Monopoly, and Much More!

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TRAVEL NEWS
Digital. The Top 10 Travel News Stories of the Week: Day In, Day Out
It looks like there is finally some light at the end of the trivago’s tunnel: in Q2, even with its revenue down by 5%, trivago remained profitable, with a net income of €5.7M ($6.35 million), vs the €20.7 loss of last year.

It’s worth remembering that, not so long ago (2016), Booking Holdings and Expedia Group were spending close to 10% of their global ad budget on the German metasearch, generating 79% of trivago’s revenue. Things went south in 2017, when BKG drastically reduced its investments in the metasearch. A lot of speculations were made about the real reason(s) behind it, but we know now that the main trigger was the introduction of relevance assessment score in its algorithm.

Starting from late ‘16, in fact, trivago started penalizing all the OTAs (including Booking.com) that used a generic search-result landing page (showing the advertised hotel together with other properties) for their ads, rather than property-specific landing pages. This dramatically increased most advertisers’ cost-per-lead and, apparently, most trivago’s execs were caught by surprise by the effects too, to the point where CFO Axel Hefer had to admit that “the impact of the adjustment was greater than we anticipated”. Since then, investors urged trivago to take a step back and, eventually, they succeeded, as the metasearch recently stated that it’s working with its largest advertisers to eliminate the relevancy assessment score from its algorithm tout court. As Bank of America prosaically put it, “trivago, has to choose: margin or growth — but not both”.



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TECHNOLOGY
50 Shades Of Chatbots: What Remains After The Sexiness Has Gone
A few days ago, during a casual conversation on the state of AI in our industry, a friend told me: "You know what? Now that chatbots are no longer sexy, they are finally becoming useful".

It is a rather bold statement but, at a closer look, it also happens to be quite accurate. Over the last year, in fact, concepts such as the Gartner's cycle, the tech adoption lifecycle or the dot-com crash analogy have been heavily quoted in articles and studies on chatbot technology. And, usually, when such (overused) concepts start popping up in blogs and publications, we're past the hype. Way past it.

The dot-com bubble analogy, especially, is so obvious that sounds almost trite, yet it's undeniable that, once the web lost its "tech sexiness" in the early '00s, it started flourishing and molding into what it is today. Like the legendary phoenix, it rose from its own ashes, and it's not so far fetched to presume that story will repeat itself with chatbots.


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