By Margaret Mastrogiacomo, EVP Strategy
As you prepare for success in 2020, here’s a quick recap of important hotel digital marketing news you may have missed in 2019. From SEO to design, brush up on your knowledge and start the new year off strong.
1. SEO: The Google search algorithm update “BERT” provides more context to search queries.
As we highlighted in our November edition, Google announced what they called the most important update in five years. The BERT update, which impacts 10% of search queries, is oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language and conversational queries. BERT is able to help search better understand the nuance and context of words in searches and better match those queries with helpful results.
BERT analyzes search queries, not web pages. However, this update does make on–page SEO more important for hotels in terms of using words in precise ways. BERT is mainly impacting top-of-the-funnel keywords, which are informational keywords. To better compete in the rankings against your competition, a simple solution is to get very specific with your content. Keyword density will be even less important in the future as Google better understands the context of the content you are writing.
2. SEM: Google announced Discovery ads and Gallery ads at Google Marketing Live.
Featured in our May edition, Google announced several new ad units designed to address upper funnel marketing needs, including Discovery ads and Gallery ads. These new ad formats are highly visual and appear across multiple Google feed environments.
Available later this year, the new Discovery ads are visually rich, mobile-first, and use the power of intent derived from consumers’ past site visitation, app downloads, videos watched, and map searches. These are the same signals Google uses for its In-Market audience targeting.
Discovery ads appear in the Google Discover feed (iOS, Android Google app, and mobile Google.com) on the mobile YouTube feed, and in Gmail (under the social and promotions tabs).
Gallery ads are more visually compelling units that will appear at the top of mobile search results. They offer a scrollable gallery with between four and eight images and up to 70 characters available for each image. Advertisers pay for these on a CPC basis, either when a user clicks through to a landing page or swipes to the third image in the sequence.
According to Google, Gallery ads saw 25% more interactions than other search ad units. These ads will compete with other search ad formats for placement at the top of mobile results. However, if these units generate more engagement, they may achieve higher–quality scores, giving the ad unit priority in mobile results. Gallery ads are currently unavailable on desktop.
As upper-funnel initiatives become more and more important to fuel the booking funnel and reach potential guests early in the travel planning journey, it’s important to keep these new visually rich advertising units top of mind to test post launch.
3. Display: Native Ads can dramatically help engage your target audience and fuel the booking funnel.
In our June edition, we covered a compelling study conveying the effectiveness of native ads. According to Sharethrough, a native advertising network, online users are more apt to read native ads because they are part of the content experience. Native ads appeal to those browsing web content because they blend into the core user experience by matching the look and feel of the content publisher and website in which they appear — such as in social media or as recommended content on a web page.
In a study comparing native formats to traditional banner ads, researchers from interPublic Group (IPG) and Sharethrough found that:
- Consumers viewed native ads 52% more frequently than display ads.
- Consumers spent the same amount of time viewing native ads as they did editorial content.
- Native ads delivered a 9% increase in brand affinity over banner ads.
- Native ads registered an 18% higher lift in purchase intent than banner ads.
For hotels, native advertising is a great way to reach potential guests in the dreaming phase of the travel planning journey and fuel the top of the booking funnel with engaging editorial content or video. For example, native ads can be a great way to promote editorial blog content or 15-30 second videos that help tell your brand story. Even cinemagraphs, which are static images with slight details of movement, can help engage your audience.
For native advertising, make sure that the publisher you choose provides the ability to select targeting dimensions related to user intent, profile, and location/device. Real-time, first-party travel or search intent data featuring well-informed segments and hyper-relevant keywords is critical for campaign success. Native ad networks such as Sharethrough and Sojern offer these real-time intent signals to help ensure your campaign achieves its goal of fueling new users into the booking funnel for more successful retargeting.
4. Social: Instagram advertisers can now convert organic influencer posts into ads.
We covered the announcement on the new Instagram Branded Content Ads to promote influencer posts in the March edition, and now these ads are officially available to advertisers, allowing brands to create ads using organic posts from influencers. Instagram also announced Branded Content Ads for Stories.
Before brands can use influencer posts as ads, the content creator must grant their business partners (the brands they have relationships with) access to promote their posts. Once the influencer has done this via their Advanced Settings page, brands will see the influencer’s posts in the Ads Manager under “Existing Posts” and can run the content as an ad within the Instagram newsfeed or Stories format.
With influencer and lifestyle content making a big impact on travel and hospitality, now hotel brands can achieve greater success when they partner with influencers and easily expand reach and engagement with this curated content.
5. Design: Achieve depth in your digital design.
As we called out in our June edition, flat design has been a strong trend for quite some time, but designs that feature drop shadows and provide a sense of depth are now making a comeback. Where can creating a sense of depth become a unique element in your hotel’s design strategy? Drop shadows on overlapping images in broken-grid layouts throughout your website design can tastefully create depth and interest without disrupting the user experience.
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NextGuest provides hoteliers with everything they need to thrive in the digital world, with bespoke technology solutions developed to meet the needs of luxury hotel clients coupled with elegant design capabilities that bring brands to life. We marry the power of data with brand discovery to uncover unique strategies that apply to everything from website design, content marketing, CRM, and more, helping the world’s top hotel brands maximize ROI as they acquire, convert, and retain guests throughout the travel planning journey. While each of our services is available on its own, the integrated technologies, marketing, and consulting offerings work together to increase digital engagement and generate revenue for hoteliers, allowing them to focus on what matters most — serving their guests.
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