MNTN Research Peeks

Analysis

Consumer Analysis: Which Networks Drive Top Performance With Travel and Leisure Customers?

Abstract

  • We analyzed network-level ad performance data from the MNTN platform to determine which networks drove the highest performance for consumer outcomes.
  • News networks, particularly local, drive high conversion rates with travel and leisure customers.
  • A variety of channels produce low cost per acquisition (CPA) numbers.
  • High return on ad spend (ROAS) doesn’t always correlate with high customer conversion volumes.
  • FX performs best overall with travel and leisure consumers.

Connected TV (CTV) usage is soaring—a whopping 92%¹ of U.S. households are currently reachable by CTV advertising and, in July of this year, streaming platforms surpassed cable networks for the largest share of U.S. TV viewing.

Understanding the current popularity and expected future growth of CTV, we were interested in learning which streaming networks drive the best engagement with consumers for advertisers. To dig into this, we turned to first-party data pulled from MNTN’s Performance TV platform, which is sourced from an AI-driven optimization engine that determines bids and inventory decisions using performance goals (like return on ad spend, cost per acquisition, etc.).

Performance TV uses a programmatic advertising, audience-first targeting methodology—allowing us to look at comprehensive results from a large breadth of streaming channels, as opposed to only reviewing data produced by targeted media buys tied to specific networks or programming. By evaluating performance based solely on who is watching and where, Performance TV data reveals unique (and sometimes unexpected) consumer insights.

We decided to focus our analysis on travel and leisure enthusiasts and examine their network preferences and ad engagement. After analyzing first-party campaign data from July 2022²—when travel consumers were fully embracing the beginning of summer and booking trips en masse—we discovered the following notable findings.

News Networks Drive High Consumer Conversion Rates

The news isn’t typically closely associated with travel and leisure, but three of the top networks in regards to consumer conversion rates were news channels. Not only did the news in general perform well for travel and leisure brands, but specifically local news networks—NBC Local News came in first on the list with CBS Local News taking the fourth spot.

This is also a notable finding because news (particularly local) is still widely associated with linear TV. However, MNTN’s data tells a different story—while some people may still watch local news on linear TV channels, many consumers, especially those inclined to spend on travel and leisure, are viewing via streaming services.

A Wide Variety of Networks Produce Low CPA Numbers

FX—who offers fan favorite shows like Bob’s Burgers, Atlanta and The Walking Dead—produced the lowest customer cost per acquisition (CPA). FX is an established and widely popular network, but its offerings aren’t an obvious tie in with travel and leisure. Same goes for some of the other channels on this list, like VH1 and ESPN. This said, the Cooking Channel and National Geographic, networks that are more closely associated with travel enthusiasts, also drove lower CPA numbers.

This data indicates that travel and leisure customers are viewing content on a variety of channels. And subsequently, travel and leisure brands can benefit from diversifying their ad spend, as opposed to allocating their entire budgets solely to travel-focused networks.

High ROAS Doesn’t Necessarily Correlate With Customer Conversions

While FX drove high customer conversion rates as well as high return on advertising spend (ROAS), the rest of the networks on this list did not produce top conversion numbers. In fact, the last three—Willow TV, Fox Business and ESPN 2—fell well below average. Following ESPN 2, the next three channels who generated the highest ROAS—National Geographic, ESPN and VH1—performed better overall with viewers. All three networks created higher than average conversion rates and low CPAs, as well as a high number of impressions.

Some advertisers will opt to manually target linear TV networks. For these brands, focusing on channels that primarily drive high ROAS might align with their advertising strategies. However, other advertisers (especially those with high-ticket products like travel and leisure brands) will look for high ROAS and conversion rates. In order to best engage a breadth of consumers, it’s wise for these brands to run ads on both types of networks—those that specifically drive high ROAS and those that are successful with viewers across the board.

Other Interesting Findings

  • FX performs best overall with travel and leisure consumers | In addition to generating high conversion rates, low CPA and high ROAS, FX also produced impression and total conversion numbers that were well above average with travel and leisure consumers. Because of this, advertisers in the travel space should consider allocating budget to this channel in order to drive performance.
  • Not all travel and leisure associated networks produce top performance | The Travel Channel, arguably the network most obviously associated with travel and leisure customers, generated relatively lackluster results—conversion rate, CPA and ROAS were all better than average, but did not fall in the top ranks of any of these categories. Other networks typically associated with travel and leisure that produced similar results: Hallmark, HGTV and TLC.
  • A high number of impressions doesn’t always equal high conversion rates | While it’s important for brands to get their advertisements out to the masses, high impression numbers aren’t always helpful if viewers don’t engage with the ad and the brand has a performance goal in mind. This holds true when looking at MNTN’s travel and leisure data—multiple networks produced high impression numbers, but fell short when it came to conversion rates. Some of these networks include: Investigation Discovery, OWN, The CW and WeatherNation.

Conclusion

When it comes to travel and leisure consumer engagement with CTV ads, the results aren’t exactly in line with what might be expected. Instead of engaging primarily with advertisements run on “typical” travel and leisure networks—like The Travel Channel, Hallmark, HGTV and TLC—customers reacted well to ads on a variety of channels. Knowing that FX and local news networks produce some of the strongest performance for travel and leisure brands, advertisers should consider diversifying ad spend across different channels in order to meet their ideal customers where they’re likely to be most engaged. With an automated, audience-first CTV strategy in place, brands can best ensure top advertising performance.

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