YAHOO! Southeast Asia is experimenting with the key travel channel on its Singapore portal, moving away from advertising and site rental deals to a cost per click model for travel suppliers.
 
It is one of the the first outposts of the US internet giant to adopt this approach, which it is trialling up to Christmas.
 
According to Head of Search at Yahoo! Southeast Asia, Grant McCarthy, the early results are encouraging but no long-term decision has been made.
 
Mr McCarthy said Yahoo! Southeast Asia opted to deploy cost per click to bridge a “value gap” between what the company believed its online real estate was worth and what travel agencies have been prepared to pay.
 
“The gap between those two was so great it would have been uneconomic for us to continue down that path without testing other options,” Mr McCarthy said.
 
Hence the move to cost per click, which has seen the departure of major Asian retailer Zuji as the imbedded travel agency and a shift to a variety of suppliers offering either flights or hotels – in addition to a range of content from the likes of Lonely Planet.
 
At present, Asia Travel Mart is selling flights, while Asiarooms.com is providing the hotel options.
 
Manger Zuji Singapore, Sean Seah, said the company could not justify the new Yahoo! pricing scheme using its internal benchmarks but continues to advertise on the site, which has a major local profile.
 
“When we started with them three years ago, we were very much a brand building model,” Mr Seah said.
 
“Now we are into maximising the effectiveness of our return on investment, which we measure internally by either cost per click or cost per booking.”
 
Zuji is still represented on Yahoo’s Australian site, while pending new owner Travelocity dominates travel on the US portal.  
 
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