How To Maximize Your Google Hotel Ad Metasearch Production
Whether you’re a seasoned hotelier or just getting started in hotel marketing, chances are you understand metasearch, OTAs, and the importance of direct bookings when it comes to maximizing your hotel’s revenue. If this sounds foreign to you, then I recommend you read our blog on what is a hotel metasearch engine.
Optimizing Your Google Hotel Ad Strategy
The metasearch auction allows your hotel to compete directly with OTAs with a price-by-price comparison when a user completes a branded hotel search. Your Google hotel ad strategy should involve optimizing your Google Business Profile, analyzing and reacting to key performance indicators like impression data, and an understanding of the variables that can impact your click-through and conversion rates. I’ll touch more on these strategies below.
Impression Share Data & Metasearch Production
Impression share metrics are a few of the KPIs to analyze when considering if you have room to grow monthly production from your hotel ad campaign. An important thing to remember is that hotel ads are very much at the bottom of the conversion funnel. Users who enter your booking flow via metasearch are users who have discovered your brand, conducted their research, and have decided to go through with booking your hotel. Analyzing these metrics from this perspective will make the most out of your optimizations.
Within the scope of metasearch, the following metrics can be viewed as the beginning of the customer journey.
Eligible Impression - The total number of opportunities that your Hotel ad was eligible to show (i.e., entered the auction) based on the targeting criteria over the specified time period.
Impression - How often is your ad shown? An impression is counted each time your ad is shown on a search result page or other site on the Google Network.
Impression Share - Impression share (IS) is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.
If your Google hotel ad campaign is experiencing a low number of impressions, several factors may be at play, including aspects related to your Google Business Profile, pricing model, or inventory-related issues. For example, if you’re dealing with low impressions, improving your photographic assets on your Google Business Profile could help. Be sure to showcase your property's best amenities and demand drivers.
And if your pricing is substantially higher than your competitors, that can also discourage clicks and impressions.
Lastly, if your hotel is consistently out of parity with the OTAs, and the ad price doesn’t match the booking price, otherwise known as a price accuracy discrepancy, your hotel listing can be penalized by Google and suppressed within market searches relevant to your property.
If your hotel is struggling with a low impression share, that means potential guests are clicking through to your metasearch listing but the ad for your “Official Website” isn’t present. The issue here is that several OTA listings for your property will be served to the potential guest. Most likely this is caused by one of two issues; 1) You’re sold out, in which case you may want to ensure you black out those dates with your OTA listings, or 2) You ran out of budget. Increasing budget can be an easy way to increase your impression share percentage and direct bookings.
Optimizing Your Click-Through Rates
Both click-through and conversion rates are very telling KPIs when it comes to analyzing the state of your hotel's booking flow.
Click-Through Rate - The percentage of users who have clicked on your ad divided by the impressions your ad has received
Conversion Rate - The percentage of conversions divided by the number of interactions
A low click-through rate can indicate a number of things to be looked at further, but generally, an incomplete or inaccurate Google Business Profile, price competitiveness issues, insufficient ad callouts, or a low position in the auction will have the largest impact on your CTR.
A well-optimized Google Business Profile should list all possible amenities and features relevant to your property, as well as high-quality imagery displayed at the profile level. If your property has a member rate available, then we highly recommend that you channel your member rates to your metasearch channel and work with your connectivity partner to set up slash-through pricing. This allows you to be in compliance while offering a better price than OTAs and showcasing it with a single slash. This subtle change has been known to improve CTRs.
Another technique to increase CTR is by creating ad callouts that resonate with the users viewing your hotel ad. Rate or promo-driven ad callouts have historically performed best.
Analyzing your Google hotel ad’s meet/beat/lose data is also a powerful tool to understand the causes for a low CTR. These competitive metrics will tell you the percentage that your hotel ad had served a rate that was in or out of parity, or more simply put, how often OTAs served a rate more competitive than yours. If your hotel is consistently serving a rate that is higher than the OTAs, your CTR will certainly suffer. On the other end, if your property is experiencing price accuracy discrepancies, you’ll have a poor conversion rate because users are bouncing when they don’t find the price that originally caught their attention in the auction.
If your CTR is abnormally low, and your beat percentage is healthy, then you should look at your Google Business Profile, pricing model, parity discrepancies, or connectivity issues between your metasearch partner and your Google Business Profile.
Optimizing Your Conversion Rates With A Positive User Experience
Within the scope of metasearch, a low conversion rate usually indicates an issue in the booking flow experience. Ask yourself, does the user land within a checkout flow? Are there unnecessary pop-ups or scrolling needed to find the hotel room the user was interested in? Does the price in the metasearch auction match what is found in the booking engine, does your booking flow provide the user with a positive experience? A poor user experience will lead to users bouncing to the next available booking option, thus, a low conversion rate.
Google grades each property based on its ability to provide its users with a positive user experience, and one way of doing so is by measuring the advertiser's ability to remain compliant with their pricing policies. If your property is constantly fighting to stay compliant with Google’s Price Accuracy Policy, then over time you’ll receive a poor score that negatively impacts your auction positioning, advertising cost, and free booking link placement. Ensuring your property remains compliant with Google's policies is key to competing with OTAs in the metasearch auction and generating direct bookings.
Users are expecting to complete a purchase when they click through from your hotel ad. Things such as strange or conflicting rates or promotions, confusing acronyms, a plethora of rate options, and so forth all lead to a poor user experience. Users will bounce from the slightest confusion or inconvenience.
Is your property struggling to compete with OTAs in the metasearch auction? Reach out to us today, and we’ll get you on track.