Connected TV

The Performance Marketer’s Guide to Spring Break

The Performance Marketer’s Guide to Spring Break

9 Min Read

Each year, droves of college students flock to beaches far and wide to soak up the sun, drink, party and unwind—otherwise known as Spring Break. This vacation week is a hallmark in many student’s college experience, and varies depending on the school, but typically runs during the months of March and April. Considering how the last two years went down, spring break was mostly a non-event for the majority (except for a few who still went ahead with their travel plans anyway). This year looks much different, and experts predict that there may be a rebound in spring break travel due to pent-up demand. Students are going across borders for their annual pilgrimage, to popular destinations like Mexico, and even more exotic destinations like Costa Rica, Belize and Europe. Considering that spring break travel contributes approximately a billion dollars to travel by Americans every year, you’ll want to keep reading to learn how advertisers can make the most of this opportunity.

We’ll cover:

Spring Break 2022: Spontaneity, Small Groups and Far-Flung Climes

Spring break bookings this year have increased by 134% percent over last year, and nearly 40% of Americans are planning to travel (up from 29% in 2021). And, while the quintessential beach vacation is definitely still a thing, trends seem to be pointing in new directions this year. A survey by VacationRenter of over 9,000 holiday makers aged 18 and older were asked about their travel plans for this year’s spring break, and some hadn’t even yet made plans. More than half (52%) of survey respondents expect to book their stay only one to three week before arrival, with a third planning in advance (three months or more). Additionally, gone are the days of big groups—vacation rental searches have been trending towards smaller ‘pod’ sized spring break trips, with four being the most popular group size, followed by two people.  And, the preferred transport of choice to get there? It looks like car travel, followed by planes, is the way to go. Though, raising fuel prices and short supply affect this year’s demand.

Share of U.S. Travelers Who Have Planned a Spring Break Trip as of February 2021, by Means of Transport

Now that the weather is warming up, travelers have the great outdoors in mind. VacationRenter revealed that keyword searches including “adventure”, “expedition”, “ski”, and “beach or coastal” made up 91% of searches. This year, travelers are looking beyond border lines to celebrate their spring break festivities, with 62% planning to explore a new destination. According to a New York Times travel report, Europe, Paris and London are currently the top searched international destinations on Scott’s Cheap Flights, a service that tracks flight deals. Similarly, travel website Expedia saw hotel searches for London increase by 62% and 51% for Paris since the beginning of this year. Mobile app Hopper reports that London and Paris clock in as two of the most searched international destinations for spring 2022.

Who said the definition of ‘new’ didn’t include re-discovering old ones that travelers had been long separated from? Case in point, New York City. Now that workers and residents are flocking back to the city, it’s clear that cities are back. Skyscanner reported that New York City is its top booked domestic destination to date in 2022 and the online travel agency Expedia has had a 13% increase in searches for New York City.

Gen Z: Your Spring Breaker Snapshot

What do we know about the spring break shopper? College students, who make up the major of spring breakers, make up generation Z (born between 1997-2012). Before the pandemic, this generation was set up for success—they were in line to inherit a  strong economy with record-low unemployment. However, that outlook has changed post-pandemic, as they face an uncertain future. Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations, and they’re the most educated too. They are also digital natives, having grown up in a world of social media, smartphones and technology.  

Gen Zers More Likely to be Enrolled at College and to Have a College-Educated Parent Than Millennials, Gen Xers at a Comparable Age

Considering this generation was born into digital, they are more flexible in the way they shop. A study by Vogue Business revealed that Gen Z were open to shopping both brick-and-mortar, and online.

Gen Z is the Most Optimistic When it Comes to Both Their In-Store and Online Purchases

Unlike other generations, Gen Z are used to shopping across different formats and platforms. In an episode of the McKinsey Podcast, Associate Partner Emma Spagnuol explained how it works. “They don’t think about shopping in this binary way: if I want to buy item X, I must go to the department store, and if I want to buy item Y, I must go to the grocery store. They shop across all types of formats. So they’re looking at pop-up boutiques, they’re shopping on Instagram. Then they’re going into the department store. Then they’re going into the specialty store. Then they’re going online on their laptop. They’re not thinking, ‘This is the place I need to go.’ They’re experiencing these brands every step of the way, at every moment, and their phone is just one super important tool for them to do that.” They’re also advocates of the BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later) movement. Together with Millennials, they make up 75% of the BNPL market. Since the start of the pandemic 123% more Gen Zs have used BNPL than before, the biggest increase in any generation. 

Sun, Sand, Sales: How to Set Up Your Campaigns This Season

Now that we know what the spring breaker looks like, here comes the fun part—getting your brand right in front of them. This can be problematic for advertisers, as Gen Zs are generally a mixed bag when it comes to their perception of advertising. A research study by eMarketer found Gen Zs to respond more favorably to advertising and marketing that shows real customers representing diverse audiences—and to identify with content that’s realistic and doesn’t appear overly polished. Our weekly CTV report, revealed that 70% of Gen Z watches TV and consumes media content through game consoles and multimedia devices like Apple TVs and Roku. The majority (54%) don’t mind ads, as long as they’re targeted to their particular interests. This is why solutions like MNTN Performance TV are an ideal way to get in front of this audience, as it is truly a holistic, omni-channel solution for your spring break campaigns (and seasonal campaigns throughout the year).


Access over 80,000+ third-party, qualified and in-market audience segments thanks to our integration with LiveRamp and other data providers.

Spring Break Vacationers: If there’s one audience you’ll want to include, it’s this one. Target college students who are in-market for spring break trips.

  • Experian > Retail Shoppers: Purchase Based > Travel > Vacation/Leisure Travelers: Spring Break Trips
  • Lotame > Holidays & Special Events > Special Events > Spring Break

Gen Z: As we outlined earlier, this generation is your spring break sweet spot—digital savvy, with spending power of up to $143 Billion dollars.

  • Eyeota > Demo > Generation > Gen Z / Post Millennials
  • AnalyticsIQ > Travel Intenders > By Generation > Generation Z Travel Intenders

Spring…and Tax? Don’t forget that spring break also coincides with spring shopping and tax (return) season, where there’s money to burn.

  • Zipline > US Data > AmeriLINK Consumer Buying Behavior > Seasonal Audiences > Tax Season
  • NinthDecimal > Seasonal > Spring > Tax Season

Tourism, Travel and Hospitality: This segment covers last minute travelers, air travel and anyone who has exhibited interest in tourism and hospitality.

  • SmarterTravel Audiences Powered by Neustar > Traveler Type > Traveler Days to Arrival > Traveler Days to Arrival 0 – 21
  • In-Market > Travel and Tourism > Air Travel > International Flyers / US Domestic Flyers
  • Eyeota > B2B > Interest > Travel and Hospitality Industry > Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants

Timing and Budget

Spring break has already started for some schools, so there’s no better time than now to get your campaigns live, and have them run through the end of April. If you’re an advertiser who has deep pockets this year (research from Zenith Media revealed that travel ad spend will grow two to six times faster than the ad market as a whole from 2021 to 2023), then we always recommend heaving up your ad spend across your prospecting efforts to ‘fuel the funnel’. This ensures that you have acquired a large enough audience to serve retargeting ads. You should also utilize MNTN’s CRM tool, where you can upload and target your own customer database.

If we want to get slightly more technical with our advice, you should also work out what your maximum cost per acquisition is for your marketing to be profitable. Simply calculate total ad spend and divide by total web sales to get your cost per sale. Then, work out your average order value and multiply it by your profit margin percentage to get your break even value (i.e. maximum customer acquisition cost). Your Cost per Sale needs to be less than your break even value for your marketing to be worth the investment. You can use this number to balance the number of audiences you are adding to the sales funnel with retargeting. The combined ad spend needs to be within that target customer acquisition cost. Therefore, the more efficient the retargeting, the more budget you can put into prospecting. However, the more budget allocated into prospecting the higher the CPA will be.


We mentioned that the time to launch your ad is now. But, doesn’t it take weeks and months of planning to launch a campaign? Well, we’re glad you asked. In the past, launching a TV advertising campaign in a matter of days would be a hard no, but not anymore. Consider platforms like MNTN Performance TV your one-stop-shop, where you can bundle your media-buying with creative in one fell swoop. Our Creative-as-a-Subscription offering helps advertisers create not just one, but many great, targeted, tested and quickly crafted commercials optimized by machine-learning, explicitly for MNTN Performance TV.  We’ve also recently partnered with QuickFrame by MNTN, a video creation and insights platform, who can transform your owned assets into compelling ad creative in a short turnaround.

Spring break might be a vacation for most, but for advertisers it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. There’s no better partner than MNTN to help you create high-quality, ad creative at speed, while also optimizing your campaign against your campaign goals via the biggest screen in the house. Stay tuned as we wrap up our spring seasonal series next week.