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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.