July 2022 Hotel Digital Marketing News | GCommerce

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  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

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  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

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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!

Google's New Hotel Booking Search Features & What it Means for Your Hotel

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Google has been gradually taking away website traffic for many industries over the years by moving more information and functionality directly within the search engine, allowing searchers to find what they need without ever leaving Google.com. This shift for the travel industry has previously been felt with the introduction of Google My Business, Google Flight and Google Hotel Search as well as featured snippets and answer boxes within the search results. Last week Google introduced even more changes to its travel related search for hotels and flights that follows this trend and further monetizes travel bookings for Google.

New Features for Google’s Hotel Search with Travel Insights Tool

1. Allow Google to Help Pick Your Next Travel Destination

Google will now curate the best flight deals based on your airport of origin by offering a filter by price and highlighting great value options.

2. New Hotel Deals Filter

Google now offers expanded filters to let you narrow down your hotel search based on a new “deals” specific filter that “uses machine learning to highlight hotels where one or more of our partners offer rates that are significantly lower than the usual price for that hotel or similar hotels nearby.” - Google’s Blog Post.

Click through on one of these deals and you’re taken to the previously updated Google hotels overview page that features hotel overview information, photos, reviews, rates and availability from hotel ads partners and things to do within the destination and near the hotel.

3. View Hotel Highlights

Consumers can also filter and view by hotel highlights and amenities such as if it has a pool, is family friendly or is a luxury hotel - all curated with machine learning and aggregated from multiple sources that Google does not specifically state.

This information can also be found on the hotel’s overview page:

4. Searches for Hotels Near Landmarks in Google Maps

Google is instructing consumers to use Google Maps for helpful information about what hotels are around specific landmarks or attractions by providing hotels near the landmark along with rates, walking and driving distances.

How Can Your Hotel Optimize For Exposure & Conversions With Google’s Updated Hotel Search?

  • Make Sure Your Hotel’s Google My Business and local listings are accurate and optimized
  • Participate in Google Hotel Ads to ensure your hotel website is competing with OTAs in this highly visible space
  • Encourage guests to write reviews and make sure you are responding to them - on all important channels and especially on Google. If your hotel isn’t getting positive reviews - make sure to address the issues whether it’s customer service or product related.
  • Make sure you have a competitive rate strategy in place and your lowest rates are only found on your website.
  • Optimize your website with location focused keywords and optimize for demand driving location attractions and/or events
  • Partner with local events, organizations, conventions and more to gain exposure and potentially links from local businesses

Need help getting started or auditing how you measure up with all of these items? Reach out to our hotel marketing team and we'll set you up for success.

How GCommerce's Programmatic Bidding Strategies Benefit Our Hotel Clients

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If there is one thing that is absolute in the hospitality internet marketing world, it’s that we must constantly be testing, analyzing, implementing changes (or not) based on test data, and testing some more.

GCommerce utilizes programmatic bid optimization for paid search marketing, which is now a must in a world of constant changes and bid management. Programmatic bidding allows bid adjustments throughout the day and uses data based on previous days data. For an individual to be able to delve into the performance and history of a specific keyword would take hours to be able to optimize an account of 100+ keywords, multiply this by 10 or more clients a day and there is now no time for other important client optimizations.

Programmatic bidding is not just a set-and-forget machine learning tool. If you use programmatic bid optimization you must make sure that you are making the most of it and getting the best results possible for clients. How do you do this? Test. Analyze. Implement (or not). Test Again.

Earlier this year, I ran a test on a sample of clients using a different bid strategy model to see if client performance could benefit from it. It wasn’t that the current automated bid strategy wasn’t working, it was based on the idea that we always want to improve our results, therefore we test different theories and strategies.

This particular test yielded some pretty significant results:

Due to the seasonality of our clients, the best data to gather is to compare year over year with a significant amount of time. Using a date range of 6 months of data, here is what we found:

  • Average CPC’s increased 1%
  • Reservations increased 89%
  • Revenue increased 100%

When comparing to GCommerce’s entire hospitality paid search marketing portfolio, here is what we found:

  • Average CPC’s increased at a much lower rate
  • Reservations increased at a much higher rate
  • Revenue also increased at a much higher rate
Programmatic bidding strategies performance

Rising CPC’s are a constant battle in the paid search marketing world. At GCommerce Solutions, our hospitality internet marketing teams are constantly optimizing paid search campaigns to help decrease this metric as best as we can. After reviewing performance across GCommerce’s entire portfolio, I found that, on average, GCommerce clients experienced an increase of 4% in average CPC’s during the same time period. This leads to a conclusion that our clients and the hotel industry continue to see ever-increasing rise in CPC’s across the board in order to compete in the SERP. But the fact that we have been able to slow it down while ramping up reservations and revenue is a huge win.

After pulling all of the data and seeing such clear results, it was obvious that it was in our clients’ best interest to switch gears on our overall strategy to best reach our KPI (key performance indicator) goals and maximize their spend. So we did.

What is Structured Data? A Guide for Hotels

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Definition of Structured Data

"refers to information with a high degree of organization, such that inclusion in a relational database is seamless and readily searchable by simple, straightforward search engine algorithms or other search operations."

But what exactly does that mean and how does it apply to hotels? In order to best describe Structured Data, it is probably easiest to start with examples.

Structured Data Examples

If we do a Google Search for "spinach and artichoke dip", the first thing on the result page is a list of ingredients and instructions on how to make it:

Recipe-Example-1024x770

That formatted list of ingredients and instructions is a pretty straightforward example, but what about more complex, personal details to your gmail account? If you do a Google Search for "my previous flights" - so long as you have flight info in an @gmail.com account and you are logged in, you should see every flight and details that are in your gmail account displayed in the search result page for Google:

We can also click into those details and see specific information about the flight that is listed:

My-Previous-Flights-Example-2

We can see the same information on hotels if we do a "my previous hotels" search in Google:

My-Previous-Hotel-Reservations-Example-1024x503

The question then becomes, how does Google take recipe information from a website or flight and hotel data from your gmail account and display those details in a clean table in the search results? The answer is that the data is organized in a way that inclusion in a relational database is seamless. In other words, it is Structured Data.

We can markup data on a hotel's website in a similar fashion so that necessary elements for a hotel are present so that inclusion in relational database is seamless. An example of how this is done can be seen on this page here.

On the right side of that page, we can see that there are different types of data marked up. Website, Hotel, Hotel Room, and Organization. We can click into each of those sections and Google will display all of the data that is marked up for us to view:

Schema-Example-1

However, this is how it looks within the code of your website:

Schema-Example-2

What is important to note here is that the Structured Data markup is not actually meant for the audience of your website, it is meant for bots and spiders that crawl the internet to aggregate information for users in other platforms (Google, Bing, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.)

How Does Structured Data Impact Organic Performance

While Google has said that Structured Data is not a ranking factor, they have stated that it helps the engine better understand the content on your pages and there is evidence that it helps provide additional information to the end user, which can increase CTR. CTR is correlated with higher rankings in search engines and a higher CTR can help move rankings up in Organic Results, which would lead to a higher CTR, higher rankings, and so on.

Our goal here is to create a positive feedback loop that starts by providing more information to the end user and contributes to higher rankings with higher CTRs.

Get Ahead of Competition

From the limited tests that we have run, we see that the vast majority of hotels are not currently utilizing Structured Data. As Google has confirmed benefits of having it on a website, this is a great opportunity to get in front of competitors.

Impact Positive Performance On Your Site

So far, clients that have implemented structured data have seen some positive improvements to organic search traffic and we encourage our clients to implement Structured Data for improved website performance.

Contact GCommerce today for more information on implementing structured data to your hotel’s website.

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