Google Hotel Ads – The Complete Guide

 In Hotel Marketing, Web Direct

Google Hotel Ads have quickly become a fresh breath of air for many hoteliers who have grown tired of battling OTAs for bookings.

This domination by OTAs has seen the rise of some unsavoury practices. Practices such as undercutting, which has shown to have a profound impact on the bottom line of your business.

In a study done by Triptease, they found that 11.7% of the time, Booking.com was undercutting direct prices. They found that when this happened, session conversion rates decreased up to 14.3%.

We at Lights On Digital understand that this undercutting has become a nightmare for small hoteliers and we want to empower you with the tools and knowledge to be able to use technology at your fingertip to sway the odds back in your favour.

What are Google Hotel Ads?

Google Hotel Ads simply gives future travellers the opportunity to book a hotel room at various crucial points throughout their research.

Anywhere a user can be making travel-related decisions, Google surfaces hotel ads to help them evaluate the pricing and booking options available to them.

Google Hotel Ads displays your hotel information such as availability and rates on Google Maps, Search and Assistant.

Where Do Google Ads Show?

Years of experiencing Google ads in the search results has given many of us certain confidence about where to find ads and how to view them.

We have grown very much used to seeing ads in our search results with the bright green lettering, forcing the organic search results to the side.

So, at first glance, you may be thinking that this is where you would find your Google Hotel Ads.

But even though seeing ads at this point in the buyer journey have proven to be effective over the long haul.

Google is seeking to deliver even more value by placing your hotel ads closer to the more crucial stages of the buyer journey.

As we scroll down the page we come across this box, which displays several organically generated options for your potential prospects to choose from.

In order to see placed hotel ads, the next thing to do would be to select one of these options.

Here now is where all has been revealed as we see the well-placed offers within the crucial stages of the buyer journey.

Allowing the prospect to choose the best offers.

This also levels the playing field and allows the hotel marketing team to compete directly with OTA’s at this crucial point of the buyer journey which is why it is crucial to place your ad right alongside these giving yourself the best chance in increase direct bookings and top-line revenue.

Fortunately for many, Google doesn’t shy away when it comes to the complexity of how difficult it is to launch and maintain a successful campaign on Google Hotel Ads.

The processes are very complex, which is why Google suggest that you do employ a 3rd Party Integration Partner to assist with all the technical details involved.

Google even goes as far as publishing a select number of certified and trusted partners who can assist in managing specific parts, or the entire campaign.

On the other hand, there are those who wish to learn the process due to a wide range of circumstances, such as, managing a marketing campaign for a hotel or property, or becoming a consultant or an expert on the topic.

Regardless of your reasons, here you will learn exactly what is required to set up, run and optimize a successful Google Hotel Ads campaign.

How To Set Up a Campaign

Google Hotel ads rely on two key components: specifically, a series of Data Feeds which tells Google about the hotel rooms you offer, and Bidding, which tells us how much you’re willing to pay to get which users to which booking page.

Data Feeds

A data feed refers to the base information you are required to submit to Google. This information essentially sets the environment and is considered a one-time task but needs periodic maintenance to ensure up to date data.

The data required is separated into 5 different categories:

  • Hotel List Feed
  • Hotel Price Feed
  • Pos File Syntax
  • QueryControl Messages
  • Bidding Feed
  • These different areas of data required essentially will get your system to talk to Google’s system.

This includes data points such as a list of all hotels which are going to be a part of your campaign, prices, and availability.

Once feeds are submitted, you will go through a price verification process, which Google does by crawling all of your booking pages.

This is to ensure that prices entered into the system are the same as the prices on your booking page. And that Google can easily crawl these pages on a regular basis.

3rd Party Integration Partners

3rd party integration partners not only assist with tasks such as entering rates and availability, but these experts can also assist in managing many of the processes of running a successful ad campaign.

These partners can help with nurturing and growing your ad campaign to the creation of strategies across all major areas such as setting up campaigns, maintenance, and optimization.

They can even help with digging deeper into the roots of a successful campaign by optimizing your content and helping you to achieve the best R.O.I. on your efforts.

Metrics are recorded by experts who know how to put them to work. This allows them to discover specific insights which in turn can help them to suggest and provide services and technology which will allow you to make more informed decisions, thus strengthening your bottom line.

There are many positives of going with a 3rd party integration partner but it all depends on your budget.

You can hire them to manage specific areas of your campaign or the entire process.

Now that we have taken care of your feed, let’s take a look at bidding.

Bidding

When it comes to bidding, you are given two options, either to bid on an individual hotel or to bid on a grouping of hotels.

Given your particular circumstances, you will know which is best for you.

For instance, if you are managing multiple hotels of similar size and stature, then a group bid would be your best bet for efficiency but if you manage otherwise, then individual bids are going to be better.

What is a bid?

Your bid is basically the amount you are willing to pay for an ad in the auction.

A great example of a type of bid which you may be familiar with might be Max CPC bid.

This type of bid allows for two options:

  1. The amount can be a fixed number, for example, every click through using your link is connected to a fixed amount. ($1.50)
    1. The amount is based on a percentage split.

This total is then multiplied by the number of booked nights, to give the total of how much you will be paying for driving each lead to your page.

With this type of bid, you signal to Google the max amount you are willing to pay in the auction, but it doesn’t mean you will pay this amount, especially if your competitors are not willing to match your bid.

Strategies and Best Practices

Creating the winning formula is never an easy task and producing winning campaigns on Google Hotels ads is no exception.

So with that being said, we have identified a few key areas of action which are crucial to the success of a Google Hotel Ads campaign.

Getting Familiar with the Interface

This is as straightforward as it comes.

The only way to master the platform and to run successful ads is to get acquainted with the inner workings of the platform.

Google Hotel Ads Centre has been proven to have an efficient and effective, user-friendly interface.

Which allows you to manage the most important aspects of your Hotel Ads experience, including important data, pricing and the management of groups and bids.

Getting familiar with the interface and understanding what goes where is the first part of any successful strategy on Google Hotel ads.

Using Data to your Advantage

Data recorded by the systems at Google allows you to pinpoint both the things that are working and the things that are not.

Weekly reports even give in detail, how your campaign is doing per device.

Use weekly opportunity reports to identify opportunities which have been missed. Find out what areas you could have improved on and be better prepared to optimize your bid in the next round.

Conversion tracking allows you to know exactly what happens when someone visits your website. Everything from whether they booked or not to the average length of time a person stays and cost per acquisition.

Use this data and other performance metrics to adjust campaign strategies and get the best out of your Google Hotel Ads experience.

Manage Bids Better By Grouping Hotels

If you are running bids for multiple properties, grouping them together will allow you to manage them more effectively and maximize R.O.I.

The principles are the same for every property in the group, so keep that in mind while structuring your bids.

Optimizing Your Ads

Optimization begins within the details.

Over time, we have realized that the ads which have done the best numbers are usually the ones delivering the most information.

This information includes data about all rooms and occupancy levels, all active bids and updated prices to ensure price accuracy.

Meanwhile, providing landing pages intended for a range of different circumstances such as different languages, devices, audiences, and even currencies.

But let’s dive deeper into the inner workings of an optimized ad.

What is your Goal?

It should be maximizing R.O.I. while driving as many bookings as possible.

In order to optimize your ad, Google has pointed out 3 areas that we should really focus on.

  1. Increased eligible impressions
  2. Improved impression share
  3. Improve click-through rate

More Eligible Impressions

What is an impression?

An impression refers to your ad being shown in the hotel search results as a result of an auction which determines if your ad is shown and in what position.

What is an Eligible Impression?

An eligible impression refers to an event that occurs during the process of auction. Eligible impressions are shown for winning campaigns who have entered the auction targeting the same hotel ID and user ID.

How to increase Eligible Impression?

As simple as it might sound, providing Google systems with accurate information is a great way to start off your optimization.

But it doesn’t stop there, ensuring your bids are above the reserve bid, decluttering any hotels in your feed to ensure indexing occurs and optimizing your website for mobile users are all part of what optimization really is.

Enhanced Impression Share

What is an Impression share?

Your impression share refers to the percentage of impressions that your hotel represents. This equation is represented by your impressions won divided by your eligible impressions.

How do we increase impression share?

In order to increase impression share, we want to begin by ensuring all bids are competitive. Along with this, all ads eligible for auction are placed into buckets to determine rank and how they should be displayed, this is referred to as “Price Bucket”.

By using the performance report to pinpoint where your bid stands at this point is key to securing a higher impression share. Assisting this process by regularly updating prices and staying competitive, will ensure you increase your impression share.

Improved Click-Through Rate

All of the above greatly increases the chances of having an improved click-through rate as it is really the fruit of most if not all actions labelled in this post.

Follow the above and reap the rewards of a successful Google Hotel Ads Campaign.

Conclusion

There is no denying the impact of a successful Google Hotel Ads campaign. The ability to use accessible technology to drive direct sales is a priceless asset, particularly in a time where OTAs are crushing the market and taking large fees.

With over 60% of leisure travellers and 50% of business travellers using the search engines to begin planning their next trip, to be in the thick of things is a necessity.

By placing your direct booking ads in a competitive position you stand to gain the most from this great initiative.

If you run a boutique hotel and think this is way too much to handle, get involved with a 3rd Party Integration Partner and get moving.

Because for now, Google has put the power back into the hands of hoteliers and levelled the playing field.

So what will you do next?

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