Hotel Takeaways From Google Marketing Live 2021
What is Google Marketing Live?
Last week, (May 27th) Google had their Marketing Live event. For those that are unfamiliar with the event, these generally feature some updates from Google that are worthwhile to pay attention to. Here, we will review some of the top takeaways for hotels from Google Marketing Live 2021.
Google Hotel Ads Shared with Text Ad Feeds
This was probably the announcement from Marketing Live that will have the most impact for hotels. Prior to this update, Google Hotel Ads (ads you see with the ability to adjust dates stayed) and Text Ads (ads you see on the results page of Google) were entirely separate. Now, Hotel Ads can be featured within Text Ads. This is a clear signal that Google is investing more into Hotel Ads and attempting to increase exposure and visibility for this channel. If your hotel is not currently using Google Hotel Ads, you could be missing out on an opportunity where OTAs will capture the valuable direct bookings in this space.
What Does Google Hotel Ads in Text Ads Mean for Hotels?
There are many things to speculate about in terms of competition, ad volume and performance. For example, if you are not on Google Hotel Ads, will that impact your quality score or CTR if you are not sharing pricing data with Google text ads? Will this increase in price data impact CTRs for hotels? Will it increase search volume as more people “price shop”? Will it decrease volume on actual Google Hotel Ad searches as more people find pricing info directly in their search results?
While there is a lot that we can guess, the obvious reason for Google putting Hotel Ad data in Text Ad results to promote bookings through that channel. We are not entirely sure how this new feature will work yet, but generally with more exposure comes higher potentials for costs. GCommerce will certainly be evaluating this feature for our metasearch clients. Stay tuned to our blog as we should be posting updates on these changes from Google and impacts we are seeing from these announcements.
Vacation Rentals Now Showing in Google Hotel Ad Results
Google has previously had different filtering options where you could see results based on hotels, vacation rentals, etc. With this new update, Google is now including vacation rentals right in the results for Google Hotel Ads. In the past, generally when we have seen the competition within a given channel increase, either the cost of that channel increases or we lose the ability to capture as much of the market share as we previously could. By adding in vacation rentals to Google Hotel Ads, this could increase the volume and competition that hotels are competing against. The good news is that 68% of Business Travelers still prefer hotels along with 40% of Leisure Travelers, so perhaps this addition will allow users that do not wish to stay at vacation rentals to more easily hone their searches to the types of hotels they are searching for. This development means that it will be important for hotels to be more savvy with their ad targeting to ensure they are capturing the most qualified audiences.
Expansion of 1st Party Customer Match Data
For those that are unfamiliar with Customer Match, this allows you to upload customer email lists and then remarket to those audiences within Google’s suite of ad services. If you have been following the changes with 3rd party cookies/data and the discussion around data privacy, this one will seem like a natural progression. Google is expanding the rules around uploading 1st party data, making it easier for advertisers to target these users. 1st party data is different from 3rd party data as it is information that you are collecting directly from your customers (email, website, forms, etc) rather than from a 3rd party service (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc).
Google Ads Insights Page Now Includes Demand Forecast
This could be helpful for hotels looking at when to increase or decrease their advertising based on demand; Google now offers a demand forecast with their Insights Trends. As we discussed above, increased demand generally either means increases in costs or less visibility. Knowing when these demand increases are likely to happen can help you plan and forecast spend for better returns.
Google Ads Image Extensions
Google Ads image extensions were previously in Beta for most customers and GCommerce has been testing these with our clients where they are available. Initial results show that Image Extensions have higher CTRs than any other extensions other than Location Extensions. After the Google Marketing Live announcement, Image Extensions will be rolling out for all accounts.
Target Return on Ad Spend Bid Strategy Now Available For Google Video Ads
As advertising becomes more reliant on Artificial Intelligence and data modeling, it is important to be able to test these robust tools to see which ones are most effective at improving your marketing. We have been regularly testing different bid strategies for hotel marketing and having another one for us to test with Video Ads is another tool in the kit that we can utilize to drive improved results for clients.
Focus On The Authenticity of Your Brand Story
This seemed to be a major theme throughout the Marketing Live event. With keynote speakers that included Immanuel Acho (best selling author) and Alicia Keys (award winning musician), there was a big emphasis on how to prepare yourself for a future of commerce that includes displaying your brand story. When evaluating the increased travel demand and how hotels can market to Gen Z, we really saw this come to life. With an increased adoption of smart devices, Gen Z has an expectation that they will be able to share the experiences of their travels with their friends, family and followers. In evaluating a potential hotel, the experience that a guest can expect to have is one of the best ways that a hotel can connect with that potential customer. While there are many options in building your Brand Story, connecting the travel experience of your hotel with your guests has proven to be very effective.
There were certainly other announcements and for anyone passionate about marketing with Google we certainly encourage you to watch the entire two hour event, but in our opinion, the above details are the major takeaways for hotels. While the other announcements such as increases to Product Feeds and Local Inventory Ads had us on the edge of our seats, they probably aren’t pertinent to hotels so we will skip them for this write up.
What Does All This Mean, What Should Hotels Do Now?
In all of our years in the hotel space, this is certainly the most interesting time we can remember. Never have we seen a global event that has impacted travel as we have in the last 15 months. The Covid-19 pandemic was also different in that the world has never seen such a fast potential recovery to health and the economy as we are seeing with the rapid deployment of vaccines. Already a large percentage of the United States population is fully vaccinated and very unlikely to contract or spread the virus, according to the CDC. The rebound for travel is expected to be swift and immense. The summer of 2021 is likely to see demand that we have not seen since before the pandemic and global travel could recover to levels higher than before the pandemic as early as 2023.
As we discussed above, this increase in demand is also usually accompanied by an increase in competition and costs. While it is great to see people booking, the real question is what are hotels able to pay to acquire those bookings? As we see an inevitable return to travel, we are also likely to see a squeeze in the market and an increase in travel costs. If hotels think that their advertising costs will be exempt from those price increases, they are likely in for a different reality.
Now more than ever, hotels need to be incredibly strategic with their marketing dollars. While it is easier than ever to reach an audience that is primed to book travel digitally, being strategic with those advertising dollars will ensure that you are able to continue to stay ahead of the competition and make up for much needed lost revenue.
Contact GCommerce Solutions today to better understand your hotel’s digital marketing strategies after these updates from Google Marketing Live 2021.