Last month, Google announced that they will be making changes to travel and shopping for the upcoming seasons on mobile. The changes will include:
- Hotel Smart Filters: filtering by criteria like “pet-friendly” when searching for hotels.
- Hotel Deals: Hotels listing rooms at a cheaper price than usual will be labelled “Deal”
- Hotel Tips: Bits of information that may be helpful to shoppers, like the fact that moving their dates might reduce room prices.
- Flights Price Tracking: Google will let people looking to book tickets know when the price of a specific flight increases or drops.
- There will also be additional changes to shopping ads, making the overall experience more visually appealing. Merchants who pay for a premium option will be able to curate a shopping experience to their specific brand.
- The update will also allow for more global shopping as it will convert currencies for international ads on Google Shopping pages.
All of the above is powered by sponsored placements, no organic element here.
In the interests of completism, the update will also include the following changes to YouTube due to an increase in consumers researching products on the site before purchasing.
- Companion banner: An interactive banner listing similar products for sale on the side of videos.
- Product picker: Advertisers can choose which products are showcased in TrueView ads for specific campaigns
What’s the reasoning behind this?
Google continues to make ads richer and more “sticky” in order to make more money per search. Fundamentally, they are not actually incentivized to have people click on organic links. What they truly want is for (almost) every click on Google to be on an ad, to this end, they’re investing a lot in order to make the ads more useful and more appealing than an organic result. Hence, organic traffic is likely to be further eroded bit by bit.
The offshoot of this is that actually advertising, rather than being content with organic traffic, is ever more critical for a business to engage in, which serves to increase competition for those sponsored search ads and, so, raises CPCs and revenue for Google that way too.
What does this mean for the future?
As a result, SEO competitiveness is probably going to lose its centrality to digital success. Additionally, shopping feeds will need to be more fully populated with strong information to keep up with the competition, and descriptions and images need to be well made to boost CTR and so be more likely to show over your competition.
In practical terms, these new ad formats involve much more creativity and branding than such ads used to and you need to be on top of the implementation – working closely with Google – to get it right. In addition, it will take some effort to make sure all the information used for filters and descriptions are written well but also accurate. This could start to favour the major players who have the resources to put to these efforts over the smaller entities.