July 2022 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

SHARE:
  1. GA4 Ads Bounce Rate! (and other features)

July 23rd marked the 1 year countdown for the sunsetting of Google Universal Analytics. That means if you haven’t set up GA4 to track your hotel’s website data, there’s a very real possibility you won’t have a full year of data once Google makes the full switch to GA4. There has been a lot of feedback regarding GA4 and I think a lot of marketers will be happy to hear that Google has now added bounce rate to GA4 (although it is a slightly different definition then UA bounce rate, so study up!). Learn more about bounce rate in GA4 and more here.

2. Google Announces It Is Delaying the Demise of 3rd Party Cookies
Google has officially delayed the demise of 3rd party cookies from July 2023 to until late 2024, stating it needs to provider marketers more time to test new Privacy Sandbox tools. What’s your reaction? Shocked or were you expecting this to happen? Our thoughts - not totally shocked is the main reaction coming out of the GCommerce camp.  Learn more here.

3. ICYMI: Introducing Metadesk

Have you heard about Metadesk yet? It is our new metasearch platform built for performance. From variable pricing to integrated custom audiences, metasearch has never been easier. Learn more at metadesk.pro

4. LinkedIn Launches Native Carousel Posts 

Have you been using the “ol’ sneaky” way of creating carousel style posts on LinkedIn? Good news! LinkedIn will be rolling carousel posts out to all users later this fall. Learn more and how to use the new post type here.

5. Facebook Announces Change to App Home Feed

Noticing anything different in your Facebook app? Facebook announced two feeds will now be found in it’s apps, mimicking app navigation and layout popular in TikTok. Over the past year it’s made other changes to keep up with the popularity of TikTok. Make sure your marketing isn’t falling behind. It’s time to jump in and start creating short-form video content to feed the algorithms and stay visible.  Learn more here.

6. Netflix Announces Partnership with Microsoft For Ad Inventory

Netflix has officially announced that Microsoft will be it’s ad partner for it’s new lower priced ad-supported subscription plan. This is a BIG win for Microsoft after it’s recent acquisition of Xandr media, which was announced this past December. Want access to this CTV inventory? It will be exclusively available via the Microsoft platform. Haven’t considered CTV/OTT ads as part of your strategy? Learn more here.

Flywheel News | June 2022 Digital Marketing Month in Review

SHARE:
  1. GCommerce Announces Metadesk, It’s New Hotel Metasearch Solution

GCommerce announced the launch of it’s new hotel metasearch solution, Metadesk, during HITEC’s 50th Anniversary in Orlando, FL the last week of June. The new platform offers on-demand data insights, easy-to-understand pricing and direct access to your campaign optimization specialists. Learn more at metadesk.pro

2. Google Ads & Microsoft Ads Officially Discontinue Support for ETAs

As of June 30th, 2022 advertisers are no longer able to create or edit expanded text ads (ETAs) on Google or Microsoft Ads. Since you’re still able to let them run, we recommend keeping an ETAs in your account if they are top performers. We also recommend taking those top performing ETAs and creating responsive search ad (RSA) versions. Responsive search ads are the new standard ad format and allow up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. Google then takes those headlines and descriptions and creates multiple ads using different combinations of those assets. It’s multivariate ad testing to the max.

3. New Google Ads Travel Features

In June, Google announced a few new travel specific features. The first is the ability for hotels to add/manage rates directly into their Google Business Profile. While this might sound appealing, we recommend only approaching rates and inventory via a direct connection to your hotel’s CRS via a connectivity partner since rates/inventory update constantly. Next is Feedless Onboarding that would allow advertisers to great hotel campaigns without needing a Hotel Center account. More to come as this is currently in beta. Finally, they announced adding travel specific goals to the new performance max campaign type.

4. GCommerce Attends HITEC’s 50th Anniversary, HSMAI and ROC in Orlando, FL

GCommerce was excited to attend the 50th anniversary of HITEC as well as HSMAI Marketing Strategy Conference and ROC in Orlando, FL during the last week of June. The week included catching up with some of our incredible clients and partners as well as the announcement of our new hotel metasearch advertising solution, Metadesk.

5. Microsoft Advertising Now Requiring Advertiser Identity Verification

Following suit with Google, Microsoft Ads is now requiring advertisers to verify identity to ensure it’s users are seeing ads from trusted sources. Learn more here and be prepared to supply your agency or advertising partner with necessary documentation. 

4 Facebook Ads Best Practices For Images

SHARE:

Facebook advertising is currently one of the most popular ways to advertise. Why is that? Because, if you know how to create Facebook ad images that drive traffic to your primary business goal, they can be insanely effective. 

This article contains four best practices for creating and selecting Facebook ads images that will be creative and effective. In running large amounts of Facebook ads each year for our clients here at GCommerce Solutions, we took a look at the top performing Facebook ad images from the previous year to determine not only which types are performing well, but also the actual data that proves these best practices to be true.

Official Ad Best Practices From Facebook

  1. Opt into Facebook Campaign Budget Optimization

Campaign budget optimization (CBO) automatically manages your budget to allow for the best results. Daily budgets or lifetime budgets can be set for Facebook Ads campaigns, depending on your needs and how much you want to specify in your budget.

  1. Opt into Detailed Targeting Expansion

Detailed targeting expansion provides access for Facebook to reach a broader group of people than what you define in your targeting selections. Facebook is then able to make updates that reflect any findings for better performance outside of the defined targeting selections. 

  1. Opt into Automatic Placements for Facebook Ads

Automatic placements through Facebook increase ad exposure to best utilize the campaign’s budget. Depending on the settings of your campaign, automatic placements allow Facebook to expand the different channels your ads can be seen on. 

  1. Manage Your Facebook Ads’ Creative Fatigue

Creative fatigue is the result of your audience seeing the same images or videos too many times across your ads. This can lead to negative impacts such as lower engagement.

It is important to note some of Facebook’s general ad best practices to keep in mind before choosing your images. However, it may not always be enough to simply follow the ad best practices provided by Facebook. For example, utilizing budget optimization and automatic placements does not always lead to better results without also optimizing your ad images.

4 Facebook Ad Image Best Practices

1. Highlight Your Hotel’s Amenities In Facebook Ads

Does your property have a unique pool? Easy access to the beach? Beautiful surrounding scenery? Highlight it! It’s not always the rooms that drive guests to a specific hotel. In our research, ads with images of pools received a 30% higher CTR and 134% more clicks than non-pool ads running side by side.

2. Show Off Your Hotel’s Activities

Potential guests like to see what they will be able to do in the area while they are staying at your property. By highlighting things to do in your hotel’s Facebook ad images, these future guests can get a glimpse of activities that happen around the area. Based on our research, ad images that focus on activities have 154% higher engagement than ads with other images running within the same campaign.

3. Eat With Your Eyes

Whether a breakfast deal or various types of on-site dining, food sells. Posts that are about various restaurants where the focus of the ad is on the food itself drive guests to want to visit the restaurant. Outside shots of the restaurants are nice to add, but those focused on the food itself perform better. These food focused ad images have a 50% higher reach than those that aren’t food focused when run at the same time, side-by-side.

4. Don’t Keep the Property a Mystery

Having Facebook ads images that focus on the outside of the property can be eye catching and intriguing for potential guests. By seeing these types of images, guests are driven to the property’s website to learn more about where it is located, which can then result in them wanting to visit and stay at that property. These ads that focus on the outside images of the property have an 88% higher amount of clicks and a 35% higher CTR than ads with other images that are running within the same Facebook Ads campaign.

Hopefully this has provided a better understanding of what types of images perform well for Facebook ads for your hotel. Remember that not all best practices are the same across the board, so it is important to test and analyze what does well for you and among your audiences. And don’t be afraid to test new images for new campaigns – you never know what may perform well for you! Contact us today to get started on your Facebook advertising strategy!

Flywheel News | May 2022 Digital Marketing Month in Review

SHARE:
  1. Google Enhances Trip Planning Tools 

Google launched a few features to assist users with travel planning. Most notable for hotels includes interest based filters in Google Maps, hotel search by landmark/attraction proximity and a new feature that allows people to save hotels and vacation rentals. Learn more here

  1. Google Includes Customer Match In Smart Bidding Signals 

The demise of 3rd party cookie tracking is no doubt on your mind. 1st party data and customer lists are the key to remarketing in this new “cookieless” world. Within Google’s eco-system, Customer Match lists have emerged as a way to retarget your 1st part data lists and create beneficial similar to prospecting lists for campaigns. Google announced that Customer Match lists will now be used in Smart bidding and campaign optimization. 

  1. TikTok Introduces New Integrations For Content Platform Partner

Social media managers around the world rejoice! You can now use your favorite social content publishing platform to post content directly to TikTok. Learn more and view the list of integration platform partners here.

  1. Google Marketing Live 2022 Features Extensive Product Announcement

Every year, the entire marketing industry eagerly anticipates the arrival of Google Marketing Live. This 1.5 hour event is a heavy hitting list of product and feature updates coming to the Google marketing suite of platforms. It included updates on everything from video to conversion lift testing, new audience capabilities and more. Discover the recap here.

Your Guide To Facebook Ad’s "Learning Limited" & How To Beat It

SHARE:

It seems like each week Facebook is releasing new updates to their ads platform, stronger guidelines to protect user privacy, and more optimization capabilities than ever before. If you are a fellow advertiser on Facebook, you are no stranger to A/B testing and the never-ending journey of finding the optimal targeting, ad copy, imagery, and headline combinations. 

However, the quest for continuous improvement could also be leading to the demise of your Facebook ad performance. Enter: the Facebook Learning Phase.

What is the Learning Phase In Facebook Ads?

The Facebook Learning Phase is the time period where Facebook is using its machine learning capabilities to optimize your results. This is achieved by Facebook showing your ads to different audiences, at different times of day, and within different ad placements to determine the optimal delivery system. 

Facebook has a lot to learn about new ads, and during this Learning Phase Facebook performance is not considered stable. It’s recommended that Facebook advertisers spend no more than 20% of their budget in the learning phase, as those ads usually encounter a higher CPA.

When Does the Facebook Learning Phase Occur and How Can You Exit?

The Facebook Learning Phase occurs whenever a new adset is created or a significant edit has been made. Edits that will force your ad sets into the Learning Phase are listed below.

Campaign

  • New campaign
  • Budget
  • Bid amount
  • Bid strategy

Ad sets

  • Targeting
  • Placement
  • Optimization event
  • Adding new creative
  • Bid strategy
  • Bid amount
  • Budget
  • Pausing for over 7 days

Ads

  • Any change (imagery, copy, URL, etc.)

When Will Your Ad Set Exit the Learning Phase In Facebook Ads?

Once your Facebook ad set performance is considered stable, you will exit the Learning Phase. Stable performance generally means that your ad set has received around 50 optimization events within a 7-day period. Your optimization event will depend on what you have set at the ad set level. This could be 50 purchases, 50 leads, 50 landing page views, 50 add-to-carts, etc. Whichever one you choose, your optimization event should be congruent with your performance goals.

If your Facebook ad sets don’t generate enough optimization events within that 7-day period they will be launched into the dreaded Learning Limited phase.

What Does it Mean to be Stuck in Facebook Ads’ Learning Limited?

When your Facebook ad sets are stuck in Learning Limited, it means you haven’t generated enough optimization events to exit the Learning Phase and become Active. For many advertisers, the Learning Limited Phase is a limbo that should be heavily avoided. Not only will your Facebook ads have a higher CPA, but they won’t be fully optimized toward the best-performing audiences and placements. When Facebook doesn’t have enough data, it can’t accurately predict the best ad placements and positioning which could make your performance suffer.

How To Fix Learning Limited in Facebook Ads

While the Learning Limited phase can be hard to exit, it’s not impossible. Facebook has outlined a few tips that could help catapult your ad sets into the active phase.

Tip 1 - Avoid Excessive Edits In Your Facebook Ads Campaigns

Making constant changes and edits to your Facebook Ads campaigns is easily the No. 1 mistake most advertisers make when it comes to being stuck in Learning Limited. Every time you make an edit, the system essentially has to start over. So while you think you are improving your campaigns by making optimizations, you are actually further delaying your exit from the Learning Phase and wasting valuable ad dollars.

However, this is not to say you should never optimize your Facebook campaigns and make edits. On the contrary, testing new creatives, ad copy, and targeting is how Facebook learns about your ad performance. Testing is essential to performance success. The key is to simply find the balance between making changes and letting your campaigns simmer. 

At GCommerce, we are constantly optimizing our ads and running A/B tests, but last year we found that we were stuck in Learning Limited a lot. We discovered that the main cause was excessive editing. At this discovery we implemented new procedures to only edit campaigns once per week (in most cases) and with this change we quickly saw that we were able to exit the learning phase quicker. 

Tip 2 - Combine Facebook Ad Sets

Are you running multiple ad sets within your Facebook Ads campaigns? This could be keeping you in Facebook’s Learning Limited. When too many ad sets are run at once they begin to take away from each other. This results in less deliveries for each ad set, longer time spent in the learning phase, and more budget spent on unstable ad sets.

Instead, if you are running multiple ad sets with similar targeting or audiences, Facebook recommends combining these into one ad set with a larger budget and audience to deliver to. Larger audiences will give Facebook more options for delivery which can help you exit the learning phase and Learning Limited much quicker.

If you are unable to combine ad sets, try increasing your current audience size by adding in more interests, geographical locations, or other targeting capabilities or taking away harsh parameters that might be restricting your deliverability.

Tip 3 - Increase Facebook Ad Campaign Budget

While this option is certainly not always an option, the number one recommendation to remove your ad sets from the Learning Limited phase is to increase your Facebook budgets by at least 25%. Most advertisers don’t have the ability to increase budgets at whim, but if you are able to this can help with exiting the Learning Limited phase.

Tip 4 - Change The Facebook Ads Campaign Optimization Event

If you’ve tried all the tips above, you could consider changing the event you are optimizing for altogether. If you are optimizing for purchases, but can’t get 50 purchases in a 7-day period, try changing that event to something higher up in the funnel like initiates check-out or add-to-cart. The further down the booking funnel you go, the lower your conversion events will be. Changing to a higher-funnel event will allow you to generate enough events to exit the Learning Limited phase. Note that you cannot change the optimization event on a published Facebook ad set, you will need to duplicate your existing ad set for this.

Final Takeaways on Facebook’s Learning Phase & Learning Limited

We’ve covered a lot in this blog post, and managing the Facebook Learning Phase and Learning Limited can be overwhelming for a lot of advertisers. There is no right way to create success with your Facebook campaigns. Ultimately you need to evaluate your own campaign performance and define what success means to you. It’s important to also take these Facebook phases with a grain of salt; you might be stuck in  Learning Limited, but maybe your performance is the best it’s ever been and you are showing a high ROAS. It’s very possible to maintain successful campaigns without being fully optimized and stable. 

Let the experts at GCommerce help get your Facebook advertising to where it needs to be. Connect with us today for more information!

Flywheel News | April 2022 Digital Marketing Month in Review

SHARE:
  1. Google Tests Larger Images In Desktop Search Results

If you’ve searched for something on Google in the past month or so (and chances are, you have), you may have noticed larger images directly in your desktop search results next to each organic listing as shown in the below screenshot. This is currently just a test, but is interesting since image extensions were launched recently. Maybe, Google is trying to once again blend organic results with the paid ads layout on the page. Time will tell if these changes stay.

  1. Celebrity Cruises Launches The All-Inclusive Photo Project

In April, we discovered the All-Inclusive Photo Project that was started “to change the faces in travel marketing” by capturing “stunning imagery of a range of diverse changemakers” that is open source and available to any travel company to use in their own campaigns. Let’s face it, our industry needs to evolve and that starts with representation in our marketing campaign imagery. The All-Inclusive Photo Project offers stunning photos of with a diverse representation of people by world renowned photographers. Check it out here.

  1. Google Confirms Not Resolving Real Time Issues In UA: Time To Move to GA4

Add it to the list, another issue in Universal Analytics that Google says it is “no longer seeking to resolve”.  While many experience issues with real time reporting in Universal Analytics, Google states that GA4 properties “have an improved Realtime report that does not suffer from this issue.” Read more here.

  1. Microsoft Ads Extends RSA Migration Deadline By 60 Days

For Advertisers that are not yet ready to migrate to responsive search ads on Microsoft Ads, the platform has extended the deadline from June 30th to August 29th. Expanded text ads created prior to that date will be eligible to show past the deadline. GCommerce has prepared all accounts for this migration but have left top performing ETAs on until they will no longer be shown within the platform. Learn more here.

5. Webmasters Beware: Google Sending Notices To Remove Intrusive Interstitials

Google has previously stated that intrusive interstitials on websites have a negative impact on your page’s ranking within the search results. Google is now sending notices via Google Search Console to site webmasters where intrusive interstitials have been found. If you are a site that has become dependent on intrusive interstitials, try a different approach as outlined in Google’s documentation here or using The Hotels Network’s great selection of website personalization and messaging formats.

6. Instagram Extends Reel Length To 90 Seconds

Previously, Reels were capped at 60 seconds in length. Instagram has now extended it to 90 seconds. Short form video content continues to be a top performer for engagement and growth within social media and if your brand isn’t focused on production of these assets yet, make sure you make it a priority in your 2023 budget planning.

KEEP READING