Google starts the bidding war
GLOBAL REPORT?An experimental new ad format on Google?s Hotel Finder search tool could have far-reaching impacts in the online distribution space.
[box]Earlier this week, Google introduced its Promoted Hotels tool, which allows advertisers?online-travel agencies, hotels or other booking providers?to bid on particular properties and have them featured at the top of Hotel Finder?s search results. A maximum of two Promoted Hotels can show up at a time.
When users click on a Promoted Hotel listing, which is offset from organic search results by a shaded background similar to other advertisements in Google?s search results, the winning bidder appears as the only available booking channel.[/box]
A recent search for hotels in New York for a two-night stay in mid-June, for example, revealed an ad for the New York Marriott Marquis that, when clicked, reveals Hotels.com in a red box as the only booking channel offered.
That same red box in search results?when there is no paid position?is typically a more generic ?Book? drop-down menu featuring multiple booking channels, ordered from least to most expensive, that sometimes includes the hotel?s property-direct website.
There also are incidents where certain OTAs are paying for priority placement in the red booking drop-down menu in organic search results.
The Google Hotel Finder listing for the Amalfi Hotel Chicago is not labeled an ad, and yet earlier this week EasyToBook.com received preference over other OTAs, other news outlets have reported. In most searches, the red booking icon will say ?Book? with a drop-down list of choices. However, in this case, the red box specifically said ?Book at EasyToBook.com,? with the price listed; to see the other booking channels, users would have had to click the ?More? drop-down button, listed to the right of the red box.
These changes in Hotel Finder do not mark Google?s foray into the OTA business, said Max Starkov, president and CEO at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies. Google only refers consumers to booking platforms; the search-engine giant doesn?t actually conduct bookings itself, and it will likely stay that way.
Source: Patrick Mayock (2012). Google’s Promoted Hotels opens the bidding war.?News Editor-International?http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles.aspx?ArticleId=8346?published Jun 8, 2012. Viewed June 8, 2012,