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Mid-year review 2022: Top Automotive, Financial, and Travel trends

A man sits at a desk while surrounded by monitors.

It’s crazy to think we’re already more than halfway through 2022 and well on our way to 2023! The last few years have brought a lot of turmoil to almost every industry around the globe, but it seems as if we’re entering a new stage where businesses are starting to bounce back and recover. Knowing how much changed in a short period of time, Microsoft Advertising took a deep dive into three key categories: Auto, Finance, and Travel. We explored year-over-year (YoY) search and click activity on our network to pick out a newly emerging trend in each category, so that you can leverage the newly changing marketplace! We’re hopeful our analysis will help advertisers reach consumers earlier in their search journeys, ultimately leading to more conversions and higher revenue.

Electric cars are paving the road for a revamped auto industry

If you haven’t heard about the future of electric cars at this point, you will soon. Electric and hybrid cars are becoming more popular, as online interest in alternative fuel types grows. Overall, electric models are being searched for 22% more than gasoline models. In fact, February 2022 saw the highest number of searches on the Microsoft Search Network in the last two years. There’s ample opportunity for advertisers to reach these consumers right now, as ad coverage has been steadily decreasing while search interest increases.

Graph showing a 27% YoY growth for consumer interest in electrified vehicles.

You may wonder what the cause is behind the sudden rise in electric vehicle interest. For one, we’re seeing a direct correlation between the cost of gas and electric query searches (as gas prices rise, so does the number of electrified queries), and electric clicks grew by 72% YoY between March 2021 and March 2022. Users are also valuing sustainability, with over half of Microsoft users agreeing that helping the environment is important to them.

Pro tip: One of the best ways to reach users interested in alternative fuel types is through non-brand queries. Increase your non-brand share of voice (SOV) in these campaigns and be sure to include both fuel and segment keywords.

Chart with information on how non-brand queries are 39% more likely to precede an electrified search than a gas search.

The rapid rise of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, a digital currency in which transactions are verified by a decentralized system using cryptography instead of a centralized authority, has been growing in popularity for the last decade. On the Microsoft Search Network, we see nearly as many crypto-related searches on our network than traditional investment searches. During the first three months of 2022, the top crypto-related queries generated 67% of the search volume of the top traditional investment queries. Crypto researchers tend to skew a bit older than the average Microsoft Advertising customer and are mostly male (78% male and 22% female).

Although debates have been happening lately regarding the longevity of cryptocurrency, the short-term marketplace is a golden opportunity for advertisers on our network. New coins are being issued each month, so advertisers may have success not only targeting net new crypto investors but highlighting opportunities to current investors as well. New searches are happening all the time, so make sure to take advantage of this market opportunity as soon as possible.

Graph showing how most crypto-related searches on the network are new.

Pro tip: In-market Audiences are a perfect way to target new customers who are actively searching for cryptocurrency. Try bidding up for relevant audiences and finding audiences on the Microsoft Search Network with high overlap to expand reach further.

International travel is back and in high demand

With vaccinations rolled out across the country and international locations opening up their doors to travelers from the US, we’re seeing spikes in the travel industry, especially abroad. According to a recent Airbnb study, 64% of US travelers are planning to spend more money on international travel than they did the previous year. Some of the most popular searched locations include the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. All three of these countries showed a strong correlation between air travel clicks and COVID-19 vaccination levels. This may indicate that as vaccinations increase, clicks for positively correlated European destinations may also increase.

Color-coded graph showing the most popular destinations among US travelers.

Not surprisingly, travelers looking to book Europe trips tend to have a longer decision journey than the average traveler. In fact, more than half of Europe travel seekers need 2+ months to convert on a trip. These travelers are known on the Microsoft Audience Network as “The Dreamers” and have a much longer decision journey when compared with other audiences on our network. “The Dreamer” averages 10 or more unique searches before they convert and also see more than 10 ads throughout the process. Their decision journey looks very different than their counterpart “The Last-Minute Booker,” who on average only shops around for about two weeks prior to converting. We recommend activating audience ads early on to reach consumers in the initial stages of their interest in traveling to Europe.

Graph showing that travelers looking to book a trip to Europe have a longer decision journey.

Pro tip: Compared to generic online travel agency (OTA) travelers, OTA travelers to Europe are 1.5x more likely to interact with the Microsoft Audience Network during their journeys. Activate audience ads now.

Resources

Curious about other category trends we’re seeing across our marketplace? Luckily, if you love insights, we have a lot more coming in 2022. Also, visit the Microsoft Advertising Insights content hub, updated weekly.

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