3 Underutilized Google Ads Optimization Tips For Hotels

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The number one rule of search marketing is to never stop testing. You never know where you’ll find the next golden goose, so it’s important to try new things and reach outside of your comfort zone. GCommerce Solutions knows this, and we’re not afraid to experiment with lesser-known optimization methods to make sure we’re achieving the best possible results. 

Below, we’ve compiled test data for 3 often underutilized Google Ads optimization techniques. These tests were conducted over 2-3 months each, using data from 9 boutique hotels spread across the United States. 

Implement A Paid Search Ad Schedule

Consumers don’t interact with your business the same way all the time, so it’s a good idea to tailor your hotel’s paid search ads to your audience’s schedule. 

While the data below measures account-level changes, paid search ad schedules work best when tailored to an individual campaign’s performance. This is how paid search ad schedules were implemented for these 3 hotels: 

Branded Terms:

+10% bid adjustment on days/times with high conversions

-50% bid adjustment on days/times with low clicks and low conversions

0% bid adjustment on all other times, so ads always have the potential to serve

Non-Branded Terms:

+10% bid adjustment on days/times with high clicks/impressions

-50% bid adjustment on days/times with high average CPCs but low clicks and low impressions

0% bid adjustment on all other times, so ads always have the potential to serve

Percent Change By Paid Search KPI:

Account-Level, Period Over Period

Overall Paid Search Ad Schedule Results:

All Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) saw an average increase in performance.

Conclusion:

Regardless of your hotel’s marketing goals, an ad schedule can be a helpful addition to your Google Ads campaigns. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to create and monitor an ad schedule based on individual campaign performance, this is a great way to give your KPIs a boost.

Keyword Optimize Your Paid Search Ad Paths

Ad paths are an often overlooked part of paid search marketing, but it’s worth taking the extra step to optimize them and make your ads more relevant. 

Paid search ad paths show up as part of the display URL of an ad. In this example, “hotel” is display path 1 and “digital-ads” is display path 2.

This test was performed using single keyword ad groups. Every single ad in the account received optimized ad paths based on the ad group’s associated keyword.

Percent Change By Paid Search KPI:

Account-Level, Period Over Period

Overall Keyword Optimized Paid Search Ad Paths Results:

All KPIs saw an average increase or no significant change in performance.

Conclusion:

This is another helpful optimization tip for various paid search account goals, and requires far less maintenance than an ad schedule. Editing ad paths can be tedious, but it’s worth using every single inch of space you’re given to optimize performance. Just be sure to keep up with paths, adjusting as needed when creating new ads or copying existing assets.

Don’t Neglect Negative Keyword Research

Positive keywords can help you reach new people, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be new customers. Negative keyword research is an effective safeguard to ensure you’re not putting paid search budget towards the wrong audience. 

This test included generalized keywords like “X Rated” and “Apartment,” as well as hotel-specific keywords such as competitor names and inaccurate locations. Every negative keyword was added with an “Exact” match type.

Percent Change By Paid Search KPI:

Account-Level, Period Over Period

Overall Negative Keyword Research Results:

Raw actions and revenue saw an average decrease in performance, but interaction rate and comparative revenue saw an average increase.

Conclusion:

Depending on your goals, well-thought-out negative keyword research can be incredibly effective for paid search campaigns. By design, negative keywords decrease the visibility of your ads, so they can lead to less overall traffic. However, this traffic is often very qualified, and will interact with your business at a higher rate to maximize your account budget. 

Key Takeaways

There are so many available paid search optimization tools, and it’s a shame to see them go to waste. If you’re willing to put in the work, the above Google Ads optimization tips are likely to work in your favor, despite their somewhat uncommon utilization. Results are never guaranteed, but tailoring these changes to specific campaign performance is a great opportunity to push your KPIs in the right direction.

If you’re interested in learning more about paid search for hotels, check out the rest of our digital marketing blog or contact us below.

How A Full Marketing Funnel Helps Boost Your Facebook Ads

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Have you ever wondered how both a prospecting and retargeting campaign can help move your potential customers through the funnel and eventually lead to conversions? Keep reading to learn how we use this in our Facebook ads and the results we have seen.

The marketing funnel starts at the top with awareness. Awareness campaigns help educate your audience on your hotel, product, or anything else unique about your company that will help you stand out from the crowd. Usually this can include amenities, activities, or experiences you offer at your hotel that will make it enticing for the next person to learn and eventually book with you. In awareness campaigns we utilize lookalike audiences which is a segmentation tool that finds people whose demographics and interests are similar to your current followers. We also use Adara audiences that have specific audiences that we can target based on their interests, hotel experiences, location, travel, and more. There is also detailed targeting and location targeting that helps us get the best results with our ads.

Then we go into consideration. Consideration can include ads or Facebook posts. You can go into more detail about your hotel, product, or service that will make your potential customer consider buying from you. 

Next, we try to convert our audience through Facebook ads. This is how we move people through the funnel to eventually booking with us. This would be in a retargeting campaign where we try to attract that user who showed interest and target them and remind them about us. In retargeting, we promote ourselves and usually offer some kind of incentive such as an offer, deal, or discount code to bring them in to eventually converting. When it comes to targeting we utilize website visitors, social media engagement, or customer lists to remarket to potential customers.

Lastly, we have engaging your audience on Facebook ads. This could involve customers interacting with your ads and leaving positive feedback about their experience with you or this could also include boosted posts on Facebook to get more engagement and interest in what you are promoting or offering. 

Below we will show some data from our hotels’ Facebook ads campaigns that use this full funnel approach and how it helps them move potential customers through the funnel and to eventually convert. The data is shown from the whole month of July. 

Hotel A received 44,036 impressions, 519 outbound clicks, and a 7.16% CTR. 

Then for retargeting we saw 169 clicks, 11.58x ROAS, and 12 conversions.

Then we move onto Hotel B that also uses this funnel approach. 

In this prospecting campaign we got 103,303 impressions, 3,943 outbound clicks, and an 8.58% CTR.

In retargeting we got 212 outbound clicks, 74.54x ROAS, and 19 conversions. 

How were both of these hotels so successful in their Facebook ads campaigns? First, they had their prospecting campaign. This campaign included details about the hotel, experiences, and special features. Then they had the retargeting campaign that features special events, promotions, or limited time offers to hook in their customer in booking with them. Then to keep engagement with past, present, and future customers they post regularly on their social media and utilize boosted posts that promote an offer or something that is exclusive to either educate their audience or remind them to book with them.

The marketing funnel approach works to move people through the funnel to converting with your hotel, product, or service you are offering. Make sure you stand out from the crowd and show off images of your property, special features, amenities, and exclusive offers. Is there a deal you are offering that you don’t want people to miss? Promote the deal, but also focus on the experience that someone can have at your hotel. What does it feel like to stay there? What experiences, adventures, or activities near your hotel are there for your guests? 

Hopefully this has provided a better understanding of the marketing funnel and how to best use it for successful hotel Facebook ad campaigns. Contact us today to get started on your hotel’s Facebook advertising strategy!

What Is Disparity Monitoring & Why Your Hotel Metasearch Needs It

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Ensuring your hotel is in parity is an on-going struggle for many in the industry. In a previous blog post, we talked to some experts in the field about their parity challenges and best practices. We took what we learned from them and are putting it to good use at Metadesk. Read on for exciting developments in the parity battle.

What is rate parity in the hotel industry? Rate parity is an agreement between hotels and their partner OTAs that ensures consistent pricing across distribution channels. In exchange for increased visibility on OTAs, it’s often written into these agreements that the hotel will not undercut the prices offered by OTAs. This includes alerting partner OTAs when the hotel is running sales and offering discounts so they can do the same. From the customer’s perspective, this means they should see the same price whether searching on an OTA or directly through your booking engine. If the rate listed by your hotel differs from the price listed by OTAs, then your hotel is said to be out of parity.

What are the risks of being out of parity? When customers see conflicting prices, they’re often left feeling confused, unsure of who to trust, and skeptical that they’re getting the best deal. It creates a muddied and frustrating user experience, which can impact bookings and hurt your brand’s reputation. They are also more likely to book with whichever channel has the lowest rates. Meaning if OTAs are offering a lower rate, you’ll lose out on valuable direct bookings.

How do hotels fall out of parity? In theory, customers should see the same price across the board, wherever and whenever they search. However, due to technical errors and questionable business practices, this is not the case. A common way hotels fall out of parity is due to software delays. Sometimes there’s a lag between when the hotel informs the OTA of a price change and when the change is implemented by the OTAs software. This results in inaccurate prices in the distribution channel. Additionally, OTAs tend to take a loose approach to their own rules. They often stack discounts or decrease the amount of commission they earn from a booking in order to display lower prices themselves, effectively undercutting the hotel.

How can we ensure we stay in parity? Depending on the service you use to oversee your metasearch campaigns, you’ll likely have to do a lot of manual labor to find whether or not you’re in parity. Some channels, like Google Hotel Ads, offer basic information on “price competitiveness,” but beyond this, specifics are hard to identify. Reporting delays complicate the issue even further and hotels are left playing catch up.

But a solution is on the horizon. Metadesk is partnering with The Hotels Network to give clients access to their real time metasearch disparities tool. While other metasearch solutions can take up to a week to alert you to price disparities, this is the only real time metasearch disparity monitoring tool on the market, offering instant insight on Trivago, TripAdvisor, Google Hotel Ads, and more. Gone are the days when parity issues flew under the radar, causing you to lose out on valuable bookings. Created for experts, by experts, Metadesk ensures that managing metasearch campaigns and staying in parity has never been easier.

To learn more about our metasearch services, visit https://gcommercesolutions.com/digital-marketing-services/metasearch-advertising/

Best Practices for Facebook Ad Optimization

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Facebook is not just a social site to connect with friends and family, it is now a platform used by many businesses to promote their products and services. Facebook Ads have proven to be one of the most effective ways to promote your business and get your CTA to the appropriate consumer. But, are you creating content for this platform that will be successful?

Download our free ebook that will tell you everything you need to know about Facebook Ad Optimization, including copy analysis and the value of successful Facebook Ads.

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4 Facebook Ads Best Practices For Images

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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!

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

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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!

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