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TripAdvisor Animates Its Owl -- and Gives It a British Accent

Lots of people go to TripAdvisor for reviews on travel destinations -- and then go somewhere else to book the trip. So as the summer travel season heats up, TripAdvisor, which competes in the growing online travel agency sector with Trivago as well as with Airbnb, is turning to more TV as well as a little furry friend to remind people it has one-stop shopping.

"People know us for our reviews and our content—we have huge traffic for that," said Neela Pal, VP-brand marketing at 17-year-old TripAdvisor. "They don't know that you can look at any hotel and get all the prices from over 200 sites and book through us."

In the new spots, which will run nationally in a mix of 30-and-15-second commercials and in longer lengths in Europe, a tiny owl—an evolution from TripAdvisor's logo—urges consumers to use TripAdvisor to find the lowest price. In one spot, the owl is getting measured for a custom-fit spa robe. The ads are part of TripAdvisor's "Latest Reviews, Lowest Prices," tagline.

Though TripAdvisor will eventually take its messaging to the digital realm, Pal said that the new campaign will begin solely with TV after a recent pullback from the channel. Earlier this year, the company said it plans to commit some $70 million to TV this year in order to amplify its bookings messaging. It began offering its instant book product in 2014.

Analysts say TripAdvisor's success is pinned to its ability to attract consumers as a booking site rather than just a content venture. In the first quarter, TripAdvisor posted a 6% increase in revenue to $372 million, compared with the year-earlier period, along with a 14% increase in monthly visitors to 390 million.

"While TripAdvisor has supply and we are encouraged by discipline with brand and performance marketing investments, we believe it is still early days in the hotel shopping recovery," wrote Justin Patterson, a Raymond James analyst, in a recent research report.

Investors haven't been patient thus far, despite the expected industry growth from the online travel sector, which is increasingly popular with younger consumers like millennials. TripAdvisor shares currently trade around $38.50 and have lost roughly a quarter of their value since the beginning of the year.

TripAdvisor worked with Santa Monica, Calif. -based Supermoon on the new campaign. The company had formerly worked with Johannes Leonardo.

Also this month, hotel booking app HotelTonight began running a new campaign that includes steamy outdoor ads in New York City.