3 New Tactics to Improve Your Hotel PPC

by Phil Foriska

We are always talking about how PPC for hotels is such an important piece to your overall hotel marketing strategy and Google has just added some more ammo to our PPC arsenal. Some of these features we’re about to cover have been out for a while, but they’re so underutilized that we felt we needed to get the word out. 

Google Ads New Responsive Search Ads

New Responsive Search Ads
This is easily one of the most exciting new features we’ve seen in Google Ads in quite some time. Google has now made ad testing way easier with these new responsive search ads, which are still in beta. We are now allowed to write up to 15 different headlines and up to 4 different descriptions. Google will then automatically serve different combinations of headlines and descriptions until it finds the best combination for a given searcher at a given time based on machine learning. We recommend filling up as many of these fields as you can for optimal testing opportunities.
Not only are these responsive search ads huge for ad testing, they also offer a lot of additional SERP real estate. Google released Expanded Text Ads in 2016, which allowed us a second headline and combined the two 35-character description fields into one 80 character description field. That was almost double the size of the original Adwords text ads. The PPC world went crazy over this new opportunity. Well, guess what? They did it again. We now have up to three 30-character headlines and two 90 character descriptions. That’s an additional headline and an additional description with 10 more characters in each description!
They also offer the option to “pin” a headline so you can guarantee it will be used anytime an ad is served. For instance, if you know you want to test ads that contain your brand name in a headline, or you want your brand name to be the first headline every time, you can “pin” it and you’ll always have your brand show, or always show in a certain position of your choosing.
One thing to note is that searchers will not always see 3 headlines and 2 descriptions. If you’re serving on a crowded SERP, or if your ad is serving on a smaller mobile device, you may only see 2 headlines and 1 description. The good thing at least it will never be less than that.
With all of this new space and the addition of machine learning testing, we are looking at a new frontier when it comes to text ads. Now we’ll have to see how BingAds responds. If the past is any indication I’d imagine they follow suit fairly quickly. Check back later for our findings on our initial tests. Visit Google Ads Help to learn more about responsive search ads

Observation & In-Market Audiences for Hotel PPC

The next thing you hotel marketers need to start using is Observation Audiences. This feature essentially allows you to observe how an audience would perform for your ads without actually restricting the reach of your current campaign. For example, you can set up an Observation Audience for searchers who are looking for trips to a particular area.
In our example here we are going to observe how searchers in the In-Market Audience for Trips to Myrtle Beach would perform for our Boardwalk Hotels campaign.
Go To Audiences on the left side navigation. Click on the blue pencil to create a new audience, then select a campaign or adgroup you would like to observe an audience for. Make sure the “Observation” radio button is selected. Type “Travel” into the search field.
Google Ads Observation Audience
Then you can click on that little “In-Market Audiences” above Travel and it will provide additional options.
Google Ads Observation Audience Travel
Feel free to select as many of these audiences as you feel necessary, but for this example, we’re going to look at Trips By Destination
Google Observation Audience Travel By Destination
Once we have the observation audience applied to that campaign we wait for data to populate. When we have a significant amount of data to view we can decide whether or not to apply that In-Market Audience to the campaign.
Areas are not the only In-Market audiences you can view through Observations. You can try to cross-sell people who are in the market for luggage (In-market audience > Apparel & Accessories > Luggage). If your hotel hosts weddings you can create an observation audience for people in the market for bridal wear (In-market audience > Apparel & Accessories > Formal Wear > Bridal Wear). You can layer these audiences as well. Let’s say you are in a vacation destination and you want to target people who are planning a destination wedding. You could observe an audience of people who are in the market for trips to your area and also looking for Bridal Wear. If you can layer criteria like this you might also be willing to run on more broad terms like “destination wedding venues”.
You could also layer In-Market Audiences with your customer email lists and target broad keywords like “Vacation Ideas”, which you would never target otherwise because they’re simply too broad.  The possibilities here are vast and observation audiences are a great way to really target the right searchers.
You could even clone your campaign and strictly target your newly observed In-Market audience with bid adjustments, or another targeting method, such as location targeting, applied. Just be sure to exclude your new targets from the original campaign. Visit Google Ads Help to learn more about Observation Targeting

Promotion Extension and Price Extensions

Lastly, we want to remind all of you hotel marketers about Price Extensions and Promotion Extensions. Not only will these help you take up more SERP real estate with your text ad, they also help you nudge the searcher into clicking the ad and booking a room. 
Promotion Extensions are a great way to promote specials running for a given holiday, seasonal special, manager’s special or really any reason you may be offering a monetary discount or percentage off room rates. For example, setting a “monetary discount” or “up to monetary discount” would allow you to show a promotion extension that could read “Up to $50 off 3 Nights or More”. The “percentage off” or “up to percentage off” would allow you to show a promotion that could read “Up To 35% off Great Summer Rates”. You can also schedule start and end dates for these promotions if you already know the last available day to book.
Google Ads Promotion Extensions
Visit Google Ads Help to learn more about Promotion Extensions.
Price Extensions are similar to promotion extensions, but the main difference is that you’ll need at least 3 different price extensions for them to be eligible to run. This can be something like prices for various room types, or multiple locations in an area. For example, you could show price extensions for:

  • King Bed Oceanfront Suite From $299/Night Lowest Rate Guarantee
  • 2 Queen Cityview Suite From $199/Night Best Value
  • 3 Bedroom Suite From $399/Night Great For Families

Again, with Price Extensions, you can apply start and end dates if you know those rates are only available for a limited time.
Google Ads Price Extensions
Visit Google Ads Help to learn more about Price Extensions.
While some of these aren’t exactly “new”, we have recently seen many accounts not taking advantage of these awesome new tools within the Google Ads platform. Whenever Google releases new features it’s always better to be an early adopter so you can figure out how to make them work for your hotel ppc. If you’re not using these 3 tactics, get in there and get testing! If you would like help with your hotel’s ppc, contact us!

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