Yesterday travel search engine Kayak announced that it had built a display ad platform to leverage search queries and serve more relevant graphical ads across its network. These display units will potentially replace the text ads currently shown on search results and other pages on Kayak.com and its affiliate sites. Reportedly, however, consumers can turn them off if they like.
According to the release:
Similar to the text ads that are already available through the Kayak Publishing Network (KPN), the new display ad system helps travel marketers target their ads based on search criteria including destination, origination, trip dates, length of stay, specific airline/hotel/car brands and car type. Referrals generated by either ad type can pass consumers’ search information (destination, travel dates, etc.) through to the advertiser’s Web site, allowing the advertiser to display relevant search results instead of a generic landing page.
Reflecting Kayak.com’s commitment to usability, consumers can turn off display ads indefinitely by simply clicking on a “hide display ad” link below each advertising unit.
One could see this as another form of behavioral targeting, which is now pervasive online. But another way to regard this is as an attempt to marry the directional power of search with the emotional appeal of display. This is also what is going on with display ads on Google image search and video advertising on Google.com or Yahoo.com results.
Advertisers in many cases clearly prefer display advertising, especially brand advertisers. But search has been largely hostile to display until very recently. I suspect we’ll see more such efforts to blend the two in the future as more brand advertising dollars make their way online.