Immediate Action Recommendations: Paid Advertising
- Posted by Gabe Hoffman
- On March 27, 2020
If you immediately turned off all media following state and federal social distancing regulations, you’re not alone. Brands across the country reallocated their paid media dollars due to a change in demand for their goods and services. However, the very fact that so many brands have removed themselves from the Google Ads marketplace is the same reason you should consider stepping back into it.
Paid media is cheaper than it’s ever been–at least in recent memory. That’s why hotels should consider turning on certain campaigns now that will help with recovery down the road. Though it may not feel like it, the road to recovery starts now.
Below are Screen Pilot’s recommendations for which paid channels to prioritize today.
Branded Paid Search
It is critical to protect your brand. By continuing to bid on brand terms, you’ll remain in control of your message during and post-COVID-19. After all, online travel agencies (OTAs) still occupy space on the search engine results page, and you don’t want to rely on OTAs or even your organic listing to tell your story, let alone invite OTAs to capture bookings on your behalf. Start by updating your headlines and ad copy to reflect the uncertain times. Highlight your flexible cancellation policy and the steps you are taking to keep consumers safe.
But keeping paid search running can also be a matter of cost. We’re currently seeing the lowest CPCs that we’ve seen in years. These CPCs are bound to go up as OTAs begin to get more aggressive, but right now this is an extremely cheap way to control your own narrative when it comes to COVID-19. Your brand search performance can also be a key performance indicator as you and your digital agency closely monitor searches and conversions. There is no channel that we are able to gather more data from than paid search.
Metasearch is our highest intent channel. When we reach users via meta, we know that they are looking for specific nights at a specific hotel. And that hasn’t changed in the face of COVID-19. Though hotels around the world are seeing a decrease in conversions during this pandemic, users are not disappearing completely and there are still guests looking for future stays. Similar to paid search, metasearch CPCs are at an all-time low. Bidding in metasearch now will help you pick up future bookings and will give you a jumpstart on revenue for the post-COVID-19 world. This will likely play out in one of three ways.
- Scenario 1: No one else is bidding on your hotel. If this happens and you’re also not bidding on your dates, your hotel will appear to have no availability or not be open. If you continue to run meta, your hotel will show availability so prospective guests will be more likely to find your hotel and book direct.
- Scenario 2: OTAs are bidding on your hotel’s dates on meta. In this instance, you’ll also want to run metasearch with the same strategy you’ve always strived to implement. Even during a low booking period, if your hotel is able to generate a return greater than 5:1 it is worth paying to have users book directly rather than paying OTA commissions.
- Scenario 3: You wait to relaunch metasearch until after COVID-19 passes. Other hotels do the same, and when the metasearch marketplace is flooded with funds, CPC increases. At this point, it will be much more expensive to reach a prospective guest. You’ll have missed the curve, meaning you’ve lost out on a lower-cost acquisition of your target guests.
Now more than ever, your potential guests are spending a lot of time on their phones and on social media. People are stuck at home and are dreaming of where they’ll go once social distancing comes to an end. Those are the people to get your ads in front to keep your hotel or resort top of mind for when they are ready and able to book. But this doesn’t mean that you roll out the same ads you were running in January and February.
Tailor your message to acknowledge what is currently going on in the world. Make guests feel safe and make it clear that while you aren’t trying to sell them right now, you do want them to know that once they feel safe and ready, your hotel/resort will be there.