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The success of metasearch engines such as Trivago, Kayak, Tripadvisor, hotelscombined, hipmunk and others has been well documented, with impressive YoY growth figures over the last 10yrs. The foundations of this success and popularity come from continued traveller vigour to search, compare and review as many hotels and holiday packages as possible to find the best real deal.

However, if you ask the average traveller if they have heard of Google Hotel Ads (previously Hotel Finder and Hotel Price Ads) then the overwhelming majority of travellers will provide you with a blank face. Yet, in fact since its launch in 2011, Google’s hotel specialised metasearch engine has slowly and steadily become one of the market leaders of the online travel sector.


So what are Google Hotel Ads?

Hotel Ads are a series of room rates listed under the integrated google map block for both brand and non-brand hotel search queries, highlighted in yellow in Step 1.
Once the traveller selects their desired hotel, Google provides another selection of hotel tariffs from both OLTAs and rival metasearch engines, see Step 2. These listings are then prioritised by Google via one of two methods: the lowest price or in the case of price parity the listing that has bid the highest cost per click (CPC).

Up until 2011 both Google maps and Universal Map Search blocks had experienced low paid advertising exposure, providing hoteliers with a cheap traffic alternative (organic search) to Adwords campaigns. Now, if hoteliers, OLTAs and rival Metasearch engines want to appear above the fold on a desktop or mobile queries, they either have the choice of creating a traditional Adwords campaign or connecting to Google’s Hotel Ad feed or both.


Can anyone join hotel price ads?

Yes and no, any hotelier or travel agent can connect, but you need to connect via Google’s partner list. The listed partners provide a go between for Google’s Hotel Ads API and a hotel’s daily rate data. In most case these partners are flexible in terms of tracking and are able to integrate all the major tracking solutions, including ESV’s own SEM and Multi-Channel platforms.

What will Google Metasearch next?

With the major Travel and Shopping sectors already integrated into the universal search interface, Google will be on the lookout for new paid revenue streams to finance Alphabet’s new ventures.

Possible targets could be financial services again after Google pulled the plug on Google Compare. One must remember Google shopping has had many stop-starts & evolutions since the days of Froogle. Other big sectors could be the automotive sector or property; in fact anything’s possible with Google even potentially personal services such as barbers, dry cleaning or key repair. One thing’s for sure, the commercialisation of the Google interface won’t stop until people start to stop using Google.


27 January 2017