We recently wrote about the changes to the structure of Google Hotels Ads with the introduction of Campaigns. It’s been known for some time this is Google’s first step to integrating hotel ads into their wider Google Adwords platform.
Integrating Hotel Ads into Adwords creates an opportunity for hotel marketers and provides an expanded range of tools which many PPC managers will be familiar with. Being able to use Google’s main advertising product– in hand with it’s metasearch channel– will continue to drive how you market hotels to customers.
The integration also provides an opportunity for specialists in Adwords by allowing them to explore opportunities available in transferring their skills to managing Hotel Ads metasearch campaigns.
We wanted to look at how these skills can be transferred between managing advertising campaigns on both platforms or whether metasearch campaigns can be managed just like a PPC campaign.
Can I run meta like a PPC campaign?
In our conversations with clients, we found many have the belief that managing a metasearch campaign was similar to that of PPC.
Although both are based on performance marketing, with the aim of optimizing the best bid for certain searches across individual hotels, in reality there are fundamental differences which make the approach required to succeed in both very different.
This difference is not only apparent in day-to-day management– i.e reporting and bidding– but also in campaign set up, technology requirements and budget allocation.
There is also the factor that metasearch is made up of many differing channels with no one dominant player in the market. Unlike PPC where Google takes almost 80% of ad revenue, metasearch is comprised of four dominant players: TripAdvisor, Trivago, Google and Kayak.
Metasearch the Multiverse
Both Google Hotel Ads and Adwords sit in a funnel which includes a myriad of other channels and websites that influence a travelers decision to book.
Travelers visit over 38 different websites before making a purchase. Making sure your hotel appears on as many touch points of this journey plays a crucial role to the success of your digital marketing strategy.
Many Lessons for Many Channels
Metasearch is still in relative technological infancy when compared against Adwords. As an advertising product, Adwords has been present for over 15 years leading to many industry experts and thought leaders.
With over 20 metasearch channels available– each offering their own unique opportunities such as device optimization or regional market share– the level of knowledge needed to optimize for each one presents its own challenges when working to become experts in the platform.
Our own experience teaches us the importance of keeping Digital Marketing Managers up-to-date on changes made by channels. Whether it’s an update to the user interface, an overhaul of the auction process or even the introduction of new channels into the market.
We invest at least three months of training for those who are new to metasearch. This training involves an understanding of the end-to-end process for the major channels while establishing a deep understanding of the implementation process, the auction process for each channel, how bids are best optimized and what factors influence conversions such as device, regional performance and where each channel sits in the user journey,
Knowing How and Where to Bid
Having in-depth knowledge on how each of the channels work, knowing how best to optimize for your objectives and how best to make your advertising budget drive performance across all the channels is where value can be added.
Understanding that budgets are finite and individual placements on each channel will have large variances in performances will help you identify the best opportunities across all metasearch sites to intelligently distribute your budget on a holistic basis driving a better overall return than treating a single metasearch site.
Channels Need Rates and Availability
Unlike PPC, to begin bidding on metasearch channels partners require a deep understanding of the technology that powers the rates and availability information (ARI) for each hotel.
As all metasearch channels require a ARI link to be set up, having a technology partner which offers the ability to set this up plays a crucial factor to the success of your metasearch campaign.
An additional advantage to having your ARI established by the same partner managing your meta campaign is that it provides an opportunity to work in tandem with your bidding to drive performance.
The Reliance on Competitive Rates
When travelers are searching for your hotel, they are concerned about finding the best price. With so many options available to book, travelers need to feel confident they booked the best rate available.
Our experiences teach us the importance of investing time in educating your non-marketing teams on metasearch, and the impact their decisions have on your marketing activity. It is important for both your marketing and revenue management teams to understand the impact competitive rates have on performance.
We have previously explored the impact of uncompetitive rates on each metasearch channel leading to lower conversion and increased CPC. Our Metasearch managers work closely to help balance the priorities of both teams using the in-depth reports provided by channels.
Budget and Reporting Across Channels
Each metasearch channel has their own methodology to reporting by providing a variety of reports to aid optimization. To manually use reports to determine the best bids requires a great deal of resources. Being able to automatically calculate the best bids in line with your objectives provides your metasearch campaigns with the best chance of success.
In addition, to automatically shift budget to channels offering better performance for device, region, country and lead time provides your advertising the flexibility required in today’s performance-based marketing.
When it comes to performance marketing, there are a number of skills that can be applied across any of the advertising platforms– search engine marketing, social media marketing, re-marketing and metasearch platforms.
There are, however, many differences across the publishing platforms which require a level of expertise and experience to manage campaign with success.
Using an automated solution to drive the best performance across your marketing channels offers the best approach to scale your marketing.
The integration of Hotel Ads with Google Adwords will empower hotel advertisers to continue reaching new customers. The key to a successful campaign, however, is ensuring you a have a presence across the entire user-journey as the typical traveler visits several websites throughout their decision making process.
It is important, however, to not lose sight of the complexities that come along with metasearch and to know the expertise required, to not only bid across channels, but to manage campaigns effectively and drive the best return on your marketing performance.