Google dominates the online search world, holding 63 percent of the market and 98 percent reach in the internet ecosystem, including its display network, according to Danielle Gonzalez, VP of hospitality at IgnitionOne, a customer intelligence platform. That’s why she says if hoteliers haven’t made Google Ads part of their marketing budgets, they may already be behind the curve.
“Google has built [its] products around reducing user friction and, as a result, has trained the vast majority of users to be dependent on the platform in our daily lives. This provides marketers with a prime opportunity to seamlessly enter that user experience on Google and target users with the right message on the right platform at the right time,” she said. “Google Ads can provide that ease for marketers.”
Additionally, metasearch sites, in aggregate, make up more than 45 percent of global unique visitors in travel, based on recent research by hospitality and travel consultant Pace Dimension. That stat alone helps to explain why Google Ads is a critical part of reaching potential guests.
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Gonzalez said there are a few things to consider when strategizing for Google Ads. Hotel marketers need to organize their objectives, digital assets and first-party data such as website, app and customer-relationship management.
“The first two areas, objectives and digital assets, will tie directly to what channels to prioritize. It would also signify which sets to activate, making it easier to determine which parts are missing,” she said. “Understanding the copious amounts of data processed will build the foundation of your program—being customer-first and direct-response oriented.”
If hotel marketers choose not to participate in a Google Ads plan, whether it be due to complexity or cost, Gonzalez said they do so at their own peril, yielding market share to channels such as online travel agencies.
“If you’re not present or bidding with the right tools referenced already, you may get that booking, but it won’t be direct,” she said.
Google Ads can be used to make smart and targeted booking moves, Gonzalez said. The most basic step is to participate in the full spectrum of metasearch and do so intelligently. Hoteliers can leverage a variety of targeting tools to strategically chip away at OTA share. Via Google Ads, hoteliers can defend the top position against OTAs for recent site visitors by maximizing audience use with generic search, responsive ads and Hotel Ads. Hoteliers also can capture OTA interest by leveraging customer intent targeting across the display and Gmail ads or even more directly in YouTube using search terms.
“The name of the game is understanding your data sets and target audience and using it to your advantage,” Gonzalez said.
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Although Google Ads might seem too complex to figure out a return on investment, Gonzalez said the data the platform provides can tell marketers a lot—if used properly. She suggested hoteliers put conversion tracking in place, making it easier to attribute what channel, placement, tactic and creative mix delivers against key performance indicators.
“It’s also best to monitor conversion tracking in real time and have a team in place that can nimbly adjust strategy and tactics to the marketing mix as favorable trends emerge and change over time,” she said. “This won’t be a singular focused KPI but rather a blend of all KPIs that drive increased revenue.”