This week marked the official roll-out of a significant and compelling change in the Google search engine result page (SERP). The search engine will no longer display ads on the right hand side of the SERP. Instead, the number of ads displayed above the fold will decrease from ten to four or three in some cases. Google has decided to focus on quality over quantity – giving higher value to fewer, more relevant ads.
Predictions for what this means for hotel brands
As there now will be less ad inventory that is worth a damn, brands should expect to see cost-per-click rise across the board.
The impact of these rising CPCs might be beneficial for hotels during branded searches because they are and will remain the search result with the highest relevance or quality score. This means it will become increasingly more expensive for other companies to bid on your branded keywords, and that competition may drop off over time.
On the other hand, it will become more difficult for smaller brands to bid on generic keywords like “beach resort in Maui” or “hotel near the airport in Houston.” Larger brands and OTAs with more extensive advertising budgets will likely push smaller players out of the auctions who lack the ad spend to compete.
Brands should take note – this move means that organic efforts must be approached with renewed fervor. Showing up organically might become the most viable option for smaller, independent hotels who may eventually be priced out of the top positions.
Additionally, remaining competitive in Google Hotel Finder is a big key to success. Now, the entirety of above-the-fold real estate is taken up with either ads or Hotel Finder results, making showing up in this space a must for brands who want to remain successful.
What this means for the future of Google
Google has been crystal clear that they believe the future of search is becoming increasingly mobile. In simplifying their search results, they are making a very clear statement that this is what their future looks like.
In the past, Google pulled the option for brands to target or bid adjust on tablets and desktop. It seems that the next logical step would be to streamline the entire advertising platform by eliminating the option to choose between whether ads are displayed on mobile through mobile bid enhancements (positive or negative). This new layout is indicative of how all of this may be leading to a consistent advertising experience across devices.
While the impact on advertisers is all speculation, it will be interesting to see how things shake out in the coming year with Google’s core algorithm updates. This is obviously a very monumental change, and it is important for brands to stay vigilant in the auctions that they are a part of. Certain keyword strategies that might have worked in the past, may become cost prohibitive to continue as a viable strategy in the future. Who knows what the future holds, but as the old saying goes, “The only constant is change” so brands must be prepared, be flexible and be ready to adapt in the coming months and years.
About the author
Sarah Harkness is Marketing Manager for Screen Pilot, a digital marketing agency that specializes in telling the stories of hotels, resorts and hospitality brands through inspired communications, strategic marketplace opportunities, and foundational insights.