Flywheel News | September 2021 Digital Marketing Month in Review

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  1. Google announces expanded text ads will be sunsetted in 2022

    Technically this announcement snuck in at the very end of August. But it’s a big shake up in the SEM community so we had to share it here. Google has announced that “beginning in July 2022, advertisers will no longer be able to create new expanded text ads (ETA) or edit existing ETAs in Google Ads”. Instead, you will be forced to use responsive search ads or Dynamic search ad formats. Our search marketing experts break down what this means and more in this blog post about Google’s ETA announcement(link to Ashley’s post).

  2. Expedia group shares fall travel outlook

    We love some great travel insights. These fall travel outlook details from Expedia breakdown who is most eager to travel this fall (hint: Millennials are in the lead) and where they are most interested in travelling to. What excites us most is the mix of both city center and outdoor destinations. Dive into the details here to guide your fall marketing strategies including who you may want to start crafting your targeting and messaging towards.

  3. Google updates how pages titles are displayed in Search Results

    About a month ago Google confirmed that it had changed how it displays page titles in the SERP results. Google decided that in certain situations it would replace title tag text with the text from the page’s header tags. While the initial changes found by many in the SERP immediately after the change were dramatic, the amount of pages/changes that are showing the results have now leveled out. We’ve noticed only certain pages we’ve audited have been re-written in the SERP, mostly pages that had yet to have optimized page titles written. The thought amongst the team here is that Google is only focusing on rewriting or replace page title text that is underperforming. So, if you notice page titles that do not contain your assigned page title text, it may be a good indicator it’s time to try different copy.

  4. Google Ads Phrase Broad Match Keyword Preferability and BERT

    In what seemed to be an announcement that just confused most of the SEM community, Google announced updates to the way keyword matching works. The biggest change seems to come around the inclusion of different relevance signals, including use of BERT, to determine which keyword is most relevant. Exact will still trump phrase and broad in matching to the query as long it is the most relevant and has the higher Ad Rank. GCommerce is continuing to test different ways to use match type structures in our accounts to achieve the most cost efficient results. 

  5. Google Announces it will use Data Driven Attribution in Google ads by default

    Data Driven Attribution was always something small businesses aspired to have, but could never possibly attain due to extremely high minimum conversions needed to qualify. At the end of September, Google announced that it is officially moving away from last-click attribution and instead using data-driven attribution as it’s default for all conversion tags for all advertisers. This means, no matter the total conversions you achieve in a month, your account will be eligible. This will roll out over the coming months and is another step Google is taking to help advertisers “future-proof their measurement” in a privacy centric world. GCommere long did away with last-click attribution many years ago in favor of the next best option for our accounts which was default-position based attribution. We’re excited to monitor how this change impacts our reporting and campaign performance.

  6. Mailchimp Acquired by Intuit

    Our last piece of digital marketing news to round out September updates comes from the major announcement by Intuit that it had acquired Mailchimp. The move comes from a desire by Intuit to establish themselves as an end-to-end customer growth platform. Email marketing and engagement possible through Mailchimp’s platform gives Intuit the ability to do so. From our point of view it proves that owning your customer data and organizing your eCRM in a way that allows you to best communicate and grow your customer database is even more important.

Flywheel News | September 2020 Digital Marketing Month in Review

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1. Google Ads Removes Substantial % Of Search Term Data From It’s UI

Google proceeded with a reporting change that has deeply upset the SEM industry. At the beginning of September, Google moved to exclude a large percentage of search term report data available to advertisers.  Noting the reason as wanting to only include terms that were searched by a significant number of users, Google has taken away a large amount of data used by SEM specialists to review all search terms that have driven traffic from ads campaigns. Seer Interactive is reporting that up to 28% of data in their accounts is now unavailable. We believe, along with many experts in the industry, that Google has taken away this data in order to drive more profit for themselves as marketers won’t be able to complete as extensive negative keyword research to ensure ads are only showing for the most relevant searches.

2. Google Ads Expands Conversion Categories Available

Google Ads has expanded it’s available conversion categories from 6 to 19 and now includes actions such as “add to cart,” “submit lead form,” and “book appointment”. Google Ads will be suggesting new categories for any existing conversion metrics that you have set up in your accounts and these suggestions will be automatically applied starting on October 15th. This recent change makes it easier to understand different funnel metrics within the path to booking for your campaigns.

3. Facebook Announces It’s Removing Restrictions on Text Content in Facebook Ad Images

Historically, Facebook has disapproved any ad images that have text that takes up more than 20% of the image space. Even though Facebook’s documentation has stated that images with less than 20% text tend to perform better, the social media platform will no longer penalize ads for going above the 20% threshold. This is a great opportunity to test different amounts of text within your Facebook ads to determine what works best for your campaigns and your business.

4. GCommerce Launches Metasearch Advertising Service

GCommerce is excited to announce that we now offer metasearch advertising for hotel and vacation rental clients. The service provides fully managed metasearch campaigns including Google Hotel Ads, allowing hotels to compete with OTAs in this crucial ad space. Learn more here.

Flywheel News | August 2020 Digital Marketing Month in Review

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  1. Google Travel Updated With New COVID-19 Related Features

COVID-19 had severely impacted how people travel and plan for travel. Knowing this, Google has incorporated new features into its travel portal to help consumers with their planning and keep them on Google as their travel planning resource. Along with COVID-19 related warnings about specific destinations, Google has also incorporated a feature that shows you the percentage of open hotels with availability and flights currently operating. It will also show travelers if a specific destination is trending for COVID-19 and new cases. Another new feature allows travelers to filter by hotels that offer free cancellations. Ensure you are keeping your hotel’s guests and potential guests as up to date as possible with your policies and procedures on all of your channels, including Google My Business.

  1. Facebook Announces More Ad Targeting Option Removals 

In the past, Facebook has removed targeting options within it’s platform due to anything that could be used on a discriminatory basis. Facebook doesn’t state this as a reason for this most recent removal of 1000 targeting options, and instead notes it as removal “because they’re just not seeing much use.” However, it’s important to note Facebook’s decision to get rid of more granular targeting. Even though we don’t think this will impact us or our clients targeting much, we’ll be monitoring campaigns to ensure we update and replace targeting as necessary. 

  1. Google Showcases Mobile Data with COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports

Google has released what it’s calling "COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports" which are developed to help public health officials combat COVID-19. You’re able to dive into data that Google has from mobile devices to understand how people are moving around their communities vs pre-COVID-19. You’re able to look at categories including Retail & Recreation, Grocery & Pharmacy, Parks, Transit stations, Workplaces, and residential at the state or county level. Check it out here.

  1. Facebook Warns of Impacts to Audience Network Due to iOS Update
Facebook announced that due to the most recent iOS update on Apple devices, they will no longer be collecting the IDFA for advertisers on their apps on iOS 14 devices. This impacts publishers' and apps' ability to monetize through the Audience Network, which is Facebook’s off-Facebook, in-app advertising network for mobile apps. It does not impact on-Facebook ad audience targeting. This is yet another example of privacy changes coming to platforms, devices, and browsers that will impact digital advertising targeting and tracking moving forward.

  1. Facebook Ads Shop Tab & Expands Shops to All US Businesses 
Facebook has unveiled the new Shop tab navigation within its menu, allowing users to easily find products from their favorite brands and businesses. If you have any sort of retail or eCommerce component to your business, you should be taking advantage of the Facebook and Instagram shops that are now available to all businesses in the US. Learn more about all of these new features here. These are just a few of the ways Facebook is building it’s eCommerce component, taking on Google and Amazon.

  1. Pinterest Shares Travel Recovery Data & Ways Brands Are Inspiring Travel Again
Pinterest recently shared a blog that highlighted some of it’s Pinterest trends and travel-specific data. While it calls out trends that we were already aware of, like the increase in road trip searches and outdoor focused destinations, it’s important to note that it’s also seeing increases in air travel-related searches like “airplane essentials” and that the number of travelers passing through airport security is nearly 10x higher than in early April. Pinterest also dives into how top travel brands including Disney are helping travelers imagine future trips and reassuring travelers with messages of safety and trust. GCommerce continues to recommend that hotel clients focus on the planning and prospecting phase of the consumer journey through effective campaigns that showcase messaging around safety as well as escapes.

July 2020 Marketing Month in Review

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1. Expedia Travel Ads Credit Program

Expedia has launched a new Travel Ads Hotel Recovery Program to encourage hotels to re-launch campaigns on Expedia’s Travel Ads program. Hotels who have advertised through the program during 2019 or earlier in 2020 are eligible to receive a credit equal to 20% on top of their initial qualifying deposit. Learn more about the program here.

2. Google Ads Image Extensions Beta

Earlier this summer, Google announced that they were sunsetting the Gallery Ads format. The format was first announced in 2019 at Google Marketing Live and will be replaced by the launch of Image extensions. Image extensions are officially in beta and starting to roll out to some accounts for testing. These ad extensions allow you to feature images alongside your text ads directly in the search results. 

The implications for improved CTR and performance could be dramatic for hotels and other industries. We’ll be testing these within client accounts that are eligible for the beta test.

3. Facebook LDU enabled until July 31st

Facebook’s transition period for LDU is set to expire at the end of July. Once this transition period is over, LDU will be disabled unless you update your settings and pixel to comply. Learn more about Facebook’s LDU setting and what it means for your hotel’s CCPA compliance here.

4. Google Keyword Planner Forecasts Are Updated Daily 

This turbulent time in markets across the country makes forecasting and planning even more difficult. The situation and consumer sentiment is changing constantly. Google Ads Keyword Planner, which is used by many across the SEM industry for keyword research and account planning has noted that “data from past 7-10 days to take into account any impact of market changes during this time period”.

This allows us to better understand current search volume trends and interests for key phrases related to our clients in addition to monitoring Google Trends.

5. GCommerce Partners With R + D to provide wholesale acquisition of facemasks for hotels & brands

GCommerce has partnered with R + D Retail Group to provide wholesale, branded facemasks for hotels and brands. R + D’s reusable face-coverings are the embodiment of style, sophistication, and comfort and offer a superior solution for your business’ need for a facemask solution. R + D facemasks are crafted out of lightweight non-woven material, provide comfort and fit for extended all-day use and offer effortless breathability. Brands including Wynn Resort, Hotel & Casino, Hotel Figueroa, and The D Casino & Hotel have already taken advantage of their functional and stylish, custom facemasks. 

6. Google Announces Upgraded GMB profiles

Google has launched a new experiment with an upgraded Google My Business profile option targeted solely at local service providers including cleaning companies, plumbers, lawyers, and more. The cost to participate is $50/month and features a Google Guaranteed badge on participating businesses’ business profile. Currently, only certain types of businesses are eligible and must meet certain requirements. Although it’s only available for local service providers as an experiment right now, it opens up the larger question of future monetization of Google My Business across other industries. 

Photo credit: SearchEngineLand

Flywheel News | Your Top 5 Hotel Digital Marketing Updates From June 2020

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Even though we’re still experiencing the random snowstorm here and there in the mountains of Park City, summer is officially here. Over the past month, we’ve continued to see positive trends for our clients and the hospitality industry as a whole as we entered this new season. There was also no shortage of announcements across the digital marketing space, and we’re here to bring you the highlights.

1. GMB Adds More Flexibility with Business Hours

Google My Business has quickly adapted throughout the Covid-19 crisis with new feature updates. The latest update gives local businesses more specific types of “hours” that they can communicate through their GMB page. They can now set up separate hour types for seniors, pickup, kitchen, and more. This allows your business to better communicate with your customers regarding special hours throughout the day due to social distancing regulations.

2. LinkedIn Announced New Retargeting Audiences for Video Ads & Lead Gen Ads

LinkedIn has officially announced new on-site retargeting engagement audiences.  Advertisers are now able to create audiences based on anyone who opened a lead gen form, people who submitted a lead gen form or based on how much of a video has been watched (25%, 50%, 75%, 97%, 100%). These changes allow advertisers to continue to speak to audiences past the initial point of engagement and lead them down the funnel for better structured (and better-performing campaigns).

3. Prominent Brands Pledge to Stop Facebook Ad Spend in July

Brands and advertisers including Starbucks, Patagonia, REI and Unilever have pledged to stop all ad spend on Facebook during July. The campaign is called Stop Hate for Profit and has been organized to put pressure on Facebook to stop the spread of hate speech and misinformation. While Mark Zuckerberg has since come out to state that the social media company will roll out new labels to better explain why some content is allowed to run and that it will work to detect and remove any misinformation posts, the campaign continues to gain traction to push for greater change on the platform.

4. Google Sees 7% Decline in Paid Search Ad Revenue, Mostly Driven Travel Ad Spending

Google is set to see it’s first-ever U.S. revenue decline which is “driven primarily by a loss of travel ad spending”. We’ve seen first hand what the Covid-19 crisis has done to ad spend for the travel industry. Everyone from the OTAs to independent hotels were forced to decrease or stop spending altogether and with travel being one of the most monetized industries in the Google platform, it had a huge impact on the search engine’s revenue. For our clients that have been able to keep paid search ads live, we’ve seen a huge decline in CPCs which are down 52% YOY and 32% since pre-COVID-19, showing there is a great opportunity for low-cost advertising through this channel right now. This is most likely due to less competition in the space.

5. Spotify Adds Video Advertising Option

Spotify’s self-service ad platform continues to evolve, now offering video campaigns in addition to audio ads. As we watch Spotify expand its reach and content by going after more content creators from YouTube and Podcasts, such as Joe Rogan, it shows an interest in emerging as an alternative to YouTube for advertisers. Let’s hope the audience targeting options also follow suit.

Marketing Month In Review- April 2020

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1. Google Clarifies Ad Credit Eligibility and Timing

When Google announced they would be providing $340 million in Google Ads credits for SMBs, advertisers and businesses were anxious to know if they would be eligible. Last week, Google provided some clarity around who qualifies to receive these ad credits. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding hotel eligibility for these Google SMB ad credits.

Is Your Hotel Eligible for Google Ads SMB Ad Credits?

  • Your business must have been running ads through the account for at least 10 out of the 12 months in 2019
  • Your business must have also been running ads during January and/or February of 2020

When Will My Hotel Receive The Ad Credits From Google?

  • Credits will roll out in phases
  • First Ad credits will be seen in the Google Ads account beginning in late May

Do I Need To Do Anything To Make Sure My Hotel Is Eligible for Google’s SMB Ad Credits?

  • No, there is nothing else to be done now. Google will notify the account users and the ad credits will automatically be deposited in the account

Are There Any Restrictions To How I Can Use The Google SMB Ad Credits?

  • Ad credits must be used by the end of 2020
  • Ad credits can be used on any Google Ads channel, including Search, Display & YouTube

How Many Credits Will My Hotel’s Google Ads Account Receive?

  • Google has not specified exact amounts but stated that ad credit will vary based on past spend and geographic location

Please reach out to your GCommerce account representative with any additional questions regarding the Google Ads credit program for your hotel.

2. Facebook SMB Ad Credits Update

Last month, we shared that Facebook is giving out $100 million in grants and ad credits. If your hotel is located in one of the metro areas listed below and meets Facebook’s eligibility requirements listed here your hotel should apply. You will need to have important business information available including your Federal Employer Identification Number, Partnership documents, business license, proof of incorporation, and official registration. Applications are now open for locations across the country. Don’t wait to apply if your business qualifies. Apply here.

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3. And Now For Some More Good News...

Have you tuned in for any of John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” shows? I think it’s one of the many great examples of ways to stay tuned into positive, true stories happening around the globe. While this has been a very difficult time for all of us, especially in hospitality, I think it’s helpful to maintain focus on the positive things occurring even during one of our darkest hours. Here are a few highlights that continue to provide us hope for recovery:

  • One of our clients in Southern California is currently closed but has continued to invest in their marketing. They have seen a 31% increase in revenue production through their website since March 15th.
  • HSMAI launches Get One, Give One Stay a "vacay layaway" program to jumpstart travel and thank healthcare heroes. Learn more here.

Check out our most recent blog with some very positive trends happening in the travel industry and across our portfolio of hotel clients.

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