Blog category: ppc

Google introduces sitelinks in PPC adverts

By Des O'Mahony | On Tue, November 10, 2009

Google today introduced sitelinks embeddable in the PPC advert to bring users directly to specific pages on the advertised website (live in Ireland campaigns this afternoon). The new sitelinks are configurable in the Adwords campaign and appear only when the advert is displayed in top of page position.

Google recently enhanced PPC adverts with mapping and address data also.

See Inside AdWords: Increasing choice and relevancy in search ads

Labels: traffic builder, sem, ppc, google

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Fixing PPC budgets to previous revenue will fail - Part1

By Des O'Mahony | On Wed, August 31, 2011

Bookassist’s Ecommerce Project Manager Mark Dolan explains why fixing Pay Per Click (PPC) monthly budget as a percentage of the overall website revenue from the previous month is a mistake



Many hotels discuss a “lower risk” strategy of fixing their budget for the current month’s PPC campaigns based on a percentage of the previous month’s revenue. We don’t consider this to be a sound strategy for online revenue growth. There are two reasons:



1. High performance in PPC will be restricted due to lack of budget

2. Low performing PPC is masked by overall growth and will be allowed continue to overspend.



To illustrate these cases I will use the following example:



Situation

Suppose a company had a revenue figure of €300,000 in July and currently has three salesmen: “direct”, “organic” and “referrals”. The MD hired a new salesman “PPC” in August who has promised great returns on investment (ROI) of greater than 10:1. There is a cost however of €100 per sales call. To minimise costs the MD set the salesman’s PPC’s budget at 1% of overall monthly revenue, so his budget for August is €3,000 which works out at 30 sales calls.



Scenario 1

PPC salesman gets fantastic results, an ROI of 20:1 resulting in revenue of €60,000. Salesman PPC thinks he can double the number of sales calls for the next month and bring revenue generated by him up to €120,000. He will not get the opportunity. The other 3 salesmen didn’t do as well so the overall revenue figure stayed at €300,000. The MD understood PPC performed very well but stayed with the formula of 1%. So PPC was restricted to just 30 sales calls for September instead of the 60 he had hoped for. This equates to a missed opportunity to have increased revenue by a further €60,000.

Result: High performing salesmen PPC is penalised by other poor performers and will be restricted due to lack of budget.



Scenario 2

PPC salesman was all promises and only brought in €6,000 from his 30 sales calls. The MD is obviously disappointed but has signed up for a contract so continues with PPC hoping the salesman improves. At the end of the month however the other 3 salesmen perform quite well so overall revenue grows to €350,000. This means that instead of reducing the budget for the PPC and taking time to fix the problem, he actually gets to increase the number of sales calls in the following month.

Result: Poor performing salesman PPC is masked by overall growth and will be allowed continue to overspend.



Solution

Set an advertising budget for your PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns and vary those budgets depending on the PPC campaign performance to maximise revenue potential.



—-

Mark Dolan is Ecommerce Project Manager with Bookassist.

He manages the Traffic Builder department that manages online marketing for hotels.


Labels: traffic builder, sem, ppc, google

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Google Hotel Finder - Everything you wanted to know

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, December 16, 2011

Bookassist Search Marketer Martin Murray discusses Google’s latest experiment, the Google Hotel Finder.

The Google hotel finder is a very interesting development that has the potential to shake up the online market for hotels. As a service, it aims to allow you to search, compare and book hotels from all over the world. It can be accessed at: www.google.com/hotelfinder

Here are some of the key features in the service to date: 1. Search

The main feature of the Google hotel finder is its comprehensive search function. Users can search for hotels by location, price, hotel class and user rating. They can also limit the results shown by using the “shape” tool and specifying a specific region on the map.

2. Date Selection

The hotel finder has a standard date selection feature allowing users to select their check in and check out dates using a calendar.

3. Shortlist

When searching for hotels a user can add hotels to a shortlist and they will then be displayed at the top of the search results page until they leave the hotel finder site.

4. Compared to typical

The compared to typical feature allows a user to compare a hotels current price with its typical price. Google use historical price data from various providers to determine a hotel’s typical price.

5. Ranking

By default Google list the hotels in descending order of their user rating, although they term this “Magic”. The user rating is based solely on reviews and ratings left on various Google properties such as Google places. 6. Hotel Data

Your hotel’s description text, contact details and website address are all taken from the hotels Google Places page. Your hotel’s photos are provided through a partnership with VFM Leonardo and the reviews are taken from Google itself.

7. Prices

Google is partnering with several providers that can provide pricing information for the listed hotels. Google will not deal directly with individual hotels, but Bookassist is currently working with Google on integration so that Bookassist clients can also directly show their prices with expected completion early in 2012.

8. Book

When a user clicks the “Book” button they are presented with a list of prices for the specified hotel. These prices are provided by the various providers which have partnered with Google. Underneath the list of prices there is a direct link to your hotel’s website. This link is included for all hotels and is free.

9. Cost Per Click (CPC)

The current CPC cost is 0.2% of the total quoted booking value. The total quoted booking value is the number of days (taken from the date range selected by the user) multiplied by the price quoted (taken from the selected provider). If the user clicks on the link to your hotel’s website without any pricing information there is no charge for this click.

Appearing on the Google Hotel Finder

The majority of hotels are already included in the hotel finder but some hotels are currently missing and some hotels that are included are only shown if you use the shape tool on the map to include the area where the hotel is physically located. If your hotel is not currently listed please be aware that Google are constantly adding hotels to their database.

Analysis & Opinion

In our opinion, the main positives and challenges of the hotel finder for the online customer and the hotel are listed below.

Key positives

  • Clean, uncluttered design.
  • Shape tool is useful but only beneficial if you know the area you are visiting.
  • Filtering options are useful and easy to use.
  • Prices are listed clearly.
  • The hotel website link is included automatically and is free.
  • Hotels can now compete directly with OTAs.

Challenges

  • A user cannot search by hotel name, specific address or landmark.
  • Prices are currently displayed in US dollars only.
  • English is the only available language.
  • Only reviews from Google are listed.
  • Some hotels are missing from the finder.
  • Not all hotels can show their own prices yet.
  • As of mid December, Google is placing its hotel finder as the first sponsored link in search results for hotels in the USA, causing considerable controversy in the PPC market.

Hotel Specific Challenges

Besides the challenges of the hotel finder product there are also some hotel-specific challenges which only you the hotel owner can overcome.

Rate parity – Up until now customers have had to go to multiple websites to check who has the best price. With services such as Google hotel finder they now only have to go to one website. As a result it is now fundamental that hotels have the same rate or better on their own website compared with the OTAs that are selling the hotel’s stock.

Availability – Allocating sufficient availability on your own website is essential if your hotel is to benefit from the hotel finder. Simply put, if Google “hotel finder” is to generate traffic to your website and you do not have sufficient availability on your own website then that traffic will be wasted as the visitor will go elsewhere.

Integration – In order to fully benefit from the hotel finder, full integration with the your hotel’s own booking engine is essential. This means partnering with providers like Bookassist that can provide such integration.

Reviews - At the moment the hotel finder only displays reviews from Google. You should make sure you are reading and reacting to all reviews on Google about your hotel. You should also try and encourage guests to leave reviews on Google to build content for the future.

Paid Advertising

Once you get your prices to display on Google Hotel Finder you are then signing up to a Cost per Click (CPC) advertising service so in certain respects the Google hotel finder is evidence of the shift to paid advertising that is currently taking place. As a result it is important that you are aware of this and ensure that you allocate sufficient marketing spend to paid advertising for 2012 and onwards. The key move in this area was in mid December when Google placed the hotel finder as the first advert result on search pages for hotels in the USA. Expect more moves in this area in the coming months from Google.

Conclusion

It is early days for the Google hotel finder but this combined with Hotel Price ads could be a game changer if this tool becomes popular with users. The main advantage for you as a hotel owner is that it allows you to compete directly with the OTAs without having enormous advertising budgets. In providing such a platform, Google is clearly encouraging more hotels to spend directly on online advertising, rather than letting those few OTAs that dominate the space right now be the only spenders.

Looking ahead it is up to Google to make this product as feature rich, relevant and as functional as possible and to create sufficient awareness of the product with the general public.

For your hotel to benefit as much as possible from the hotel finder it is important that you consider and prepare for the challenges outlined earlier.

Bookassist is the technology and online strategy partner for hotels.

Labels: strategy, ppc, google hotel finder, google, cpc

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Hotels - Ignore The Mobile Trend If You Dare

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, May 03, 2013

Cris Petcu

“Mobile” is the word on everyone’s lips these days. Leaving the house in the morning without your smartphone causes panic, anxiety and worry that the day is ruined without it.

Mobile search in particular is surging in an upward spiral. The growth levels of search through smart devices have eclipsed all past search growth trends and provides a big opportunity to all businesses with an online element, and especially to those in travel.

Google studies have shown that mobile searches in travel have the third highest follow-up actions of any industry, which is a lucrative opportunity to be seized (only the auto and beauty industries have more). Hotels are a major part of this dynamic industry and are heavily affected by online trends. More and more hotel customers are going online everyday to check out latest deals, hotel locations, reviews and photos as part of their decision-making process, which means your hotel’s online visibility and presence on mobile is a vital point of contact. On April 11th, Booking.com announced on its website that mobile bookings had tripled year on year, proving that hotel customers are increasingly willing to book on-the-go.

With such high follow-up rates on mobile devices hotels need to provide their mobile visitors with mobile-centric information and show that they value and respect their visitors.

First impressions are very important and as mobile is fast becoming a hotel’s first introduction to their customer, mobile must be an integral part of online strategy.

Essential To Serve The Mobile Customer

In recent study carried out by Google (http://www.google.com/think/research-studies/creating-moments-that-matter.html) some critical information resulted that really hits home the importance of mobile search in the travel industry. Results showed that the majority of the travel-based searches carried out on mobile were done not in a downloaded app but in a browser. About 12% of those mobile searches generated a purchase, which is a phenomenal conversion result. Mobile-optimised websites can no longer be ignored.

More than one seventh of all travel searches on Google are via mobile. The reality for the hospitality industry is that, since it’s all about serving the guest, you cannot choose to ignore one seventh of your customers. It’s like telling every seventh person who walks into your hotel lobby that you’re not interested in their business. That would be commercial suicide, yet it’s essentially what many hotels are doing right now.

Another important factor to consider is that, according to Google, 81% of search coming through mobile is done for speed and convenience reasons. Mobile search is also responsible for pushing conversions through multiple channels as it can be the first point of contact between a hotel and customer before they action a booking. This means that there has never been so much evidence available to suggest that it is absolutely essential for hotels to provide focused, convenient and customised information to the mobile visitor as the potential value of this contact with the customer is huge.

Customised Mobile-Centric Websites or Responsive?

Mobile searchers are impatient and have specific needs compared with desktop users. A full website on a mobile screen does not service these needs so either the website must adapt or the approach must change more radically. A website needs to intelligently focus on the mobile visitor and provide them with what they are looking for - quickly, effectively and professionally.

Bookassist research has shown that the information sought by mobile users visiting regular websites, and their behaviour on websites, is markedly different from desktop users to the same websites. The popular and normally successful approach of responsive design, whereby the shape and layout of a regular website is adjusted to better match the mobile screen size, is not proving to be the best approach for hotels.

For example, based on tens of thousands of visits that Bookassist has tracked on hundreds of hotel websites, we developed our mobile optimised website (or webapp) approach for hotels to immediately offer the primary information needed for mobile users right on the front screen in prominent touch-friendly buttons - easy booking, special offers, photos, social media, maps and directions and call-now buttons - while still allowing users to access the full website if they need to, just one tap away. This filtering out of all the unnecessary information targeted towards desktop users is the key to success on mobile.

As most of a hotel’s mobile visitors come through search they should be automatically directed from the full website to a customised mobile optimised website, not presented with a question asking what they would like to do. Such questions are just a barrier to conversion, since the question may not be understood, or the language may be incorrect, or the user may simply be impatient and dismiss it and move on (we’ve all been there!). You need to provide the user with the best possible experience for the platform they are on, while allowing them later to easily switch if they wish. That’s why Bookassist’s soultion takes the decision automatically based on the screen size of the user.

Providing your mobile visitors with a mobile optimised website shows that you respect and value this growing profile of visitor. As proof of its success, the Bookassist mobile-optimised website platform recently took second place in the Eyefortravel Mobile Innovation Awards in San Francisco in March 2013 (http://bookassist.org/mobile/).

Engage Your Direct Mobile Customer In The Right Place

Proper mobile search optimisation and mobile search marketing ensure that your hotel has the best opportunity to capture direct online business at the highest possible margin. Targeting mobile users with Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising has become a very important marketing tool in the process of mobile search and mobile sales. Google researchers have found that mobile PPC ads are most effective during goal-oriented searches, meaning when someone is ready to buy they are more likely to take interest in a mobile PPC ad then when they are not. Almost 59% of such goal-oriented people found that mobile ads were a useful resource at this stage of the decision making process.

Now Google is rolling out new Mobile Enhanced Campaigns, basically encouraging more and more advertisers to join the mobile PPC advertising space. As search levels are surging on mobile devices this should not be ignored and will be embraced by many of the big players in the industry who already have a strong PPC presence on mobile. This means that targeted mobile PPC campaigns and professional mobile-centric websites will be key components of online strategy and help drive the surging revenue potential from the mobile search space.

Never has the importance of presenting your brand with intelligent, customised and effective information for your mobile visitors been so clearly evident, and to back that up with mobile marketing that specifically targets your customer segments. Hotels were slow to embrace the internet 10 or 15 years ago and as a result lost ground in the space to large online travel agents, which dominate to this day. Now is the time to target and serve your direct customers on mobile.

Don’t miss the train this time. The evidence is out and is shouting, “All Aboard”!

Cristian Petcu is an Online Marketing Specialist with Bookassist (bookassist.com), the technology and online strategy partner for hotels.

Bookassist’s mobile website (webapp) solution for hotels. The platform was recently honoured on the world stage with a runner-up position against world-leading brands at the Eyefortravel Mobile Innovation Awards in San Francisco in March 2013.

Bookassist’s mobile website (webapp) solution for hotels. The platform was recently honoured on the world stage with a runner-up position against world-leading brands at the Eyefortravel Mobile Innovation Awards in San Francisco in March 2013.

Bookassist’s mobile website (webapp) solution for hotels. The platform was recently honoured on the world stage with a runner-up position against world-leading brands at the Eyefortravel Mobile Innovation Awards in San Francisco in March 2013.

Labels: webapp, traffic builder, strategy, social media, ppc, mobile, apps

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Ever-Changing AdWords

By Des O'Mahony | On Tue, June 11, 2013

Ciarán Rowe and Des O’Mahony

​Google’s AdWords remains undiminished as a necessity for any hotel serious about online business. A very large percentage of search users still do not distinguish between AdWords and natural search results at the top of search results listings, while at the same time the majority of search users still focus their clicking actions at the top of the search results page. These facts combined mean that engaging in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is critical for online revenue generation.

Google continues to enhance AdWords to make them more attractive to the public and more likely to be clicked. Success in capturing clicks depends on quickly adopting any new approaches available in AdWords, since it is these fresh new approaches that appeal to jaded eyes.

Here are just some of the enhances being rolled out in AdWords at the moment that we are analysing for effectiveness.

Enhanced Campaigns

Enhanced Campaigns is due to take effect from July 22nd and is about targeting the reality of the multi-device world that we live in. At the moment, AdWords campaigns are set up separately to target each kind of device, for example desktop or mobile. But research (from Google) indicates that people often accomplish a task over a period of time while moving between platforms, desktop to tablet to phone etc. Such a task might be researching a trip leading ultimately to booking a hotel.

The idea of focusing campaigns on a single platform therefore limits the reinforcement capability of an advertiser to be ubiquitous, or at least makes it more difficult to manage.

With Enhanced Campaigns, AdWords advertising campaigns will be amalgamated into one master campaign with the option to create mobile-preferred adverts and site links to unify the campaigns across platforms. Google says that this is to allow easier control and targeting for AdWords users, and cite improved reporting and more powerful marketing tools.

See: http://adwords.blogspot.ie/2013/02/introducing-enhanced-campaigns.html

What is key here for Google is to ensure that advertisers opt into the mobile advertising network to improve Google revenue. After all, Google’s Android mobile operating system is pushed out for free precisely to create an increased target for Google’s advertising. Mobile advertising takes advantage of the mobile platform with location-detection advertising and click-to-call options, together with tracking of phone call conversions. Lots to be gained here as an advertiser.

Social Extensions / Annotations

Social Extensions (now transitioning to being called Social Annotations) link your business’s Google+ Page to your AdWords campaigns, so that all your +1s, whether from your Google+ Page, your website, your adverts or your search, get unified and tallied together.

Unifying data in this way is a similar philosophy to the ubiquitous approach adopted in Enhanced Campaigns: it shouldn’t matter what device someone is on or what element of your online presence they like, your business is a single online entity.

In practice it means that each of your online elements will see the total +1s and so each will look like it has been more heavily interacted with. This may make it more attractive in the eyes of a potential customer. It also means that Google is essentially saying that businesses should push their Google+ Page more as an additional way to be liked online.

See: http://www.google.ie/ads/innovations/socialextensions.html

Dynamic Search Advertising

The main thrust of AdWords is to serve advertising based on keywords matched to the user’s search terms. This requires the creation of campaigns based around keywords targeting. But with Dynamic Search Advertising, you can instead target relevant searches with ads generated directly from your web site content, dynamically.

With Dynamic Search Advertising, Google keeps a fresh index of your website’s content using organic web crawling. When a search occurs, Google can determine that your website content is relevant and can dynamically generate an ad with a headline based on the query.

Dynamic Search Advertising is an approach that is very useful for advertisers with limited experience, or for those who may not have the resources to analyse keyword volume for their business. But it also is an addition to standard AdWords approaches and, according to Google, can result in 5%-10% of additional clicks.

Google data indicates that every day 16% of searches that occur are ones that Google has never seen before. Keyword targeting is extremely difficult therefore in about one seventh of searches, and this is where Dynamic Search Advertising can help.

See: http://www.google.ie/ads/innovations/dynamicsearchads.html

Similar Audiences

Google remarketing allows you to reach people who have already visited your site by serving them adverts through the Google Display Network when they are elsewhere online. You’ve probably experienced this yourself online, where adverts for stuff you’ve been looking at seem to follow you around!

Similar Audiences is a refined version of Display Network targeting using remarketing audiences, rather than just remarketing to one individual. You can serve ads to people whose browsing patterns are similar to the browsing patterns of your existing site visitors.

Again, similarity should mean better chances at clicking and should add to the success of your existing targeted Adwords campaigns.

See: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2676774?hl=en

Adwords Image Extensions

Google announced Image Extensions in early June to allow advertisers add images to AdWords (see figure 1). As yet it is not clear what the criteria for display will be. Can all adverts have them or is it only the number one spot? It is likely that images will only appear if the context of the search indicates to Google that the searcher would benefit from imagery.

What is obvious though is that Image Extensions would be far more appealing to searchers. They would likely make organic search results even less appealing, reducing the value of SEO in comparison to SEM.

Adwords image extensions are currently in beta.
Adwords image extensions are currently in beta.

Improving the Click Rate

At Bookassist, we continue to improve the click rate for hotel adverts not just by employing Google technology, but also by integrating with the dynamic pricing options of the Bookassist Booking Engine. As figure 2 shows, Bookassist’s Traffic Builder online marketing team creates far more attractive adverts for hotels with detailed site links that serve targeted actions with pricing. This is far more appealing than generic online travel agent advertising.

Advertised actions such as “Advance Purchase Rate from €72” and “Stay Longer and Save up to 15%” within the ad content have proportionately higher click-through rates because they are more relevant to searchers than just “Book here”. And using deep linking into Bookassist’s Booking Engine, customers can be brought directly to the actual offer being advertised, with a book now button right next to the offer, rather than just being sent to the hotel’s website to fend for themselves.

Eliminating barriers between what’s being advertised and the action to book is critical to improve conversion.

Adwords advertising enhanced to feature attractive site links which directly bring searchers to the advertised offer.
Adwords advertising enhanced to feature attractive site links which directly bring searchers to the advertised offer.

Beyond the Click

The science of capturing clicks in increasingly complex, but remains a very first step. Delivering conversion on that precious click is even more important. The key is “nose to tail” integration of advertising, quality web presence, clarity and attractiveness of the product on offer, and advanced booking engine capabilities to serve without barriers. Only with this level of integration can clicks lead to conversion, and onwards to improved online revenue. No single link in this chain can be neglected.

Labels: traffic builder, seo, sem, ppc, marketing, google, adwords

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