Hotel Brands, OTAs and Paid Search: How Do These Relationships Unfold on the SERP?
software service, enabling the ads to be collected and sorted at scale. Over 100,000 ads were ultimately analyzed, and some of the most relevant findings were that:
- On average, each Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) included almost two OTA ads (1.82 per SERP). Bing and AOL had considerably more, with 4.77 and 5.27 OTA ads per SERP, respectively. Google Mobile had only 0.49 OTA ads per SERP.
- OTA ads outnumbered hotel brands’ ads on Google, Bing and AOL—but not on Google Mobile. Unlike the widely varying OTA ads per SERP, the brands’ own ads appeared at a relatively consistent rate across search engines. This figure hovered around 1 brand ad per SERP, with 0.99 on Google, 1.05 on Bing, 1.03 on AOL, and 0.88 on Google Mobile.
- 87.5% of OTA ads on Bing included the trademark of the brand that was searched. That compares to 61.1% on Google, 53.3% on Google Mobile, and 67.5% on AOL.
- Brands did not appear in the #1 ad position on 23.6% of SERPs on Google Mobile, 15.9% of SERPs on Google, 17.4% of SERPs on Bing, and 24.9% of SERPs on AOL.
- When brands did not appear in the #1 position, OTAs dominated the #1 ad spot, controlling it well over 50% of the time on each search engine.
Overall, the data from this study indicates that OTAs bid on hotels’ branded keywords rather extensively. For example, on a given SERP the brand’s ad(s) will typically be situated among multiple OTA ads. OTAs will also occupy the #1 ad position on a significant percentage of SERPs.
In certain situations, brand bidding OTAs can be useful to the brand—ensuring that a potential customer doesn’t book with a competitor. In others, it may be harmful—reducing the brand’s traffic and direct bookings. Determining how to properly balance this is beyond the scope of this study; that equation is left to be worked out by hotel brands and their OTAs. However, the data from this study should help inform hotel brands in particular as they adapt their PPC strategies and optimize their relationships with OTAs.