What Happened to Search Marketing in 2018?
- Posted by Jessica Weissman
- On January 30, 2019
With 2018 just weeks behind us, it is amazing to think about all the changes we have seen in the search world from big players like Google and Bing over the past year.
What’s even more interesting to think about is how those changes have transformed the way we think about, and execute on, search marketing in the hospitality industry. Not only that, but what changes can we expect to see in 2019 and how will it further transform our search marketing tactics?
We here at Screen Pilot have put together a list of four of the biggest changes to the search marketing landscape as it applies to the hospitality industry. While these changes to Google and Bing have already happened, we can definitely expect them to continue to change the way we do search marketing for the coming years.
What Happened to Search Marketing in 2018
Google AdWords rebranded as Google Ads
One of the biggest changes we saw in 2018 was the rebranding of Google AdWords to Google Ads. While this seems like it is only a brand name change, it also came with a new user interface, enhanced marketing features, new targeting options, campaign types and new tools to help us better understand our perfect customer and market to them efficiently. This platform will continue to be enhanced and used for PPC marketing in future years.
Google Local 4-Pack Feature
Earlier this year Google released a brand new feature changing their well known “3-Pack” to a “4-Pack” which now heavily focuses on Google My Business (GMB) engagements and reviews along with content and imagery. Read more about the Google Local 4-Pack Feature and how you can optimize your hotel for it here.
Responsive Search Ads
Google also continued taking big steps towards automated machine learning technology with the release of their new Responsive Search Ads. With this new ad format, you can write up to 15 different headlines and up to four different descriptions. This results in over 43,360 different permutations, making ad testing possibilities endless. This feature is still being perfected by Google using feedback from preferred partners like Screen Pilot. We are constantly testing this new option and determining which combination of headlines and descriptions works best for our clients as well.
New Advanced Targeting Options
Similarly to all digital marketing, personalization and advanced audience targeting is becoming increasingly popular in paid search and as marketers, we are constantly looking for better ways to show our ads to the most qualified audiences…audiences that are most likely to book a room at our properties. Google has responded to this by releasing new targeting options for our paid channels. This includes detailed demographic targets in search and custom intent audiences for Youtube, Gmail, and the Google Display Network. The new Detailed Demographics targeting feature gives you the ability to target specific users based on their marital status, parental status, education, and homeowner status. This allows you to hone in on more qualified audiences for each individual property.
Have a more luxury brand? Now you can focus ads on more affluent audiences. Trying to reach more families? No problem, target only those users that have children. Custom Intent targeting allows you to find and display ads to people who are actively searching for specific products, keywords or websites related to your property and/or brand. Some ways we have used this at Screen Pilot is by targeting users who are searching for flights to a specific destination, or resorts in a specific area or with specific amenities like golf courses, spas, restaurants etc. There are unlimited opportunities to target more qualified audiences using these new tools and Screen Pilot is constantly testing and using them to personalize ads resulting in more conversions.
While these are just some of the changes we saw in search marketing in 2018, they are changes that demonstrate the way that search is going to continue evolving in the coming years. These new tools, tactics, and changes affect the way that we connect with our consumers but they also help us reach the best audiences and consumers for our hotels and resorts.
What To Expect in Paid Search in 2019
2019 is sure to bring another year of technological advancements in the search marketing environment and we can expect to see changes not only to how we use platforms like Google and Bing to market to our ideal consumer but also in how personalized and efficient we are in doing so. As such, Screen Pilot has put together a list of trends that they predict will shift the search marketing landscape in the coming year.
The Rise of Audience Targeting
One thing that will be a main focus in paid search this year will be honing in on the most qualified audiences and personalizing messaging to those specific sets of audiences. According to Search Engine Journal’s 10 Most Important PPC Trends You Need To Know in 2019, more time will be spent creating and optimizing customer segments and audiences this year than ever before. While ad creation and optimization continues to get more automated, “the key to success in 2019 and beyond will be to create a detailed strategy of the various audience types and audiences lists and how you can layer them to shape your paid search strategy (Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search, Microsoft).” By creating custom dimensions and utilizing client booking engine and customer data, Screen Pilot is able to create highly qualified customer segments and hyper-personalized ads that result in more conversions. Moving forward, these tactics and optimizations will continue to be tested and implemented across accounts, providing our clients with the most qualified audiences possible.
We have seen huge steps towards automation with Google and Bing in 2018 and we can expect to see this continue in 2019 with more smart features and automated bidding strategies coming from both of these major search marketing platforms. While automation makes every-day tasks of bid management and reporting more simple, it is more important than ever for marketers to evaluate the machine’s recommendations and execute only the recommendations that best align with clients goals. 2019 “won’t be a race to see whether humans or machines are best, it will be a race to see which PPC experts have the best process to leverage the machines to blow away their competition (Frederick Vallaeys, CEO, Optmyzr).” As a preferred Google and Bing partner, Screen Pilot is dedicated to being experts on all new tools, releases and machine learning developments from Google and Bing and to translate this knowledge to our clients and their campaigns allowing us to implement the best strategy and tactics possible.
Cross-Channel and Cross-Device Strategy
In 2019, cross-channel and cross-device strategy will be increasingly important. Consumers are interchangeably using their mobile and desktop devices now more than ever and they are using multiple different digital channels to assist them in day to day life. This means that we should not only be considering what channels and devices our customers are using the most, but also how we can be in those areas in the exact moments our customers are. This requires a cross-device, cross-channel strategy but also a breakdown of reporting silos to connect the dots between channels and devices. Screen Pilot’s cross-channel team works together at every turn, to make sure our clients’ marketing is in the right place at the right time for the most qualified audience and we are able to connect the dots between channels and devices for our clients with cross-department reporting.
Increased Ad Inventory
Google’s attempt to keep users on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) has become increasingly apparent in the past year and we will continue to see this in 2019 as well. However, this isn’t all bad for us as marketers. This is because we will start to see Google Ads permeate new inventory like Google Maps, knowledge panels, answer boxes etc. So while Google will continue their attempt to keep users on the SERPs, marketers will also have new, more native opportunities to reach their customers. Native inventory often has a higher performance so it will be exciting to see how this new inventory performs and how users engage with it.
2019 will be the year of brand building which creates a need for segmenting strategies by goals and prioritizing brand affinity and loyalty over ROI. “From display, to YouTube, to keeping some low-performing generic keywords running… digital marketing in 2019 will stop trying to make every click profitable and start segmenting strategies by goals (Jeff Allen, President, Hanapin Marketing).” This year you will see more and more companies and brands segmenting their strategies into ROI strategies and separate brand-building strategies that create demand and brand loyalty instead of specific action. Screen Pilot provides opportunities for multiple strategies and building a cohesive, cross-channel strategy for best performance.
Google demonstrated its dedication to mobile with the release of its new mobile-first index, where it now shows search engine results and decides rank based on the mobile version of a website instead of a desktop. With video being the most popular type of mobile content, Google is creating a preference for video as well. In 2019, marketers in the hospitality industry should make video part of their marketing mix. This includes creating video but also hosting video on-site, on YouTube (for it to be displayed on the SERPs), and implementing video advertising through Google/YouTube. Video will be an important part of the paid search marketing mix in 2019 and is a perfect tactic for brand awareness goals.
2019 will bring about a year of changes and opportunities in the search marketing arena allowing us to more effectively reach our ideal set of customers and build a stronger brand.
New strategies should be created, audiences should become more segmented, new advertising channels should be implemented and higher performing marketing will be possible.
Cheers to another year of search marketing growth for your property and Screen Pilot!
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