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Advising the hotel industry how to increase their online revenue

Search Marketing or Display Ads? Part III

With part 1 and 2 of this series we’ve headed into the following direction: display ads, as we know them, are not such an effective marketing tool anymore. It is more and more about precise targeting and innovative ways of running banner ad campaigns.

How is this for an example?
Travelocity, the popular travel website, is using real-time search data for their display ad campaigns. They use an engine called Teracent which matches the marketing message to their audience on the fly. Messages are based on a host of dynamic parameters such as search intent (e.g. when someone clicks on the star ratings for hotels, this person would only see ads for luxury hotels) and how far people drill down into a certain category.
This strategy has increased Travelocity’s online bookings by 203% !
Chip Hall, senior VP of sales and marketing at Teracent, tells AdAge:
“Display has to change, otherwise it’s headed for failure. If advertisers don’t recognize online is more challenged with the old approaches and needs to be incredibly hyper-targeted, they’re going to fail.”
Source: Econsultancy

Filed under: Display/Banner Marketing, Search Engine Marketing - SEM, , , , , , ,

Search Marketing or Display Ads: that is the question.

I’ve just attended a webinar dealing with this question and the main argument for display ads was the time people spend browsing the web, which is much more than the time people spend searching. In percentages: 95% browsing, 5% searching. Therefore, display ads would still be an effective way to drive traffic and reach customers since search marketing only works when people actually  – search. Kind of sounds logical.

Of course, search engine marketing should be run alongside because apparently click-through rates increased by 22%, related brand searches increased and conversion rates via search ads increased when search and display were run together.

Now, what’s been said here is that display ads actually push traffic and conversion through search. If your site ranks high in the organic search, you are a winner. Otherwise, it basically means that you are paying advertising money twice.

Also, it has become much easier for people to avoid advertising as this blog entry highlights: Has the internet made it easier to hide from adverts? Which in turn makes for a substantial argument in favour of search ads.

Search ads are delivered at a point when people are actually actively looking for something: a solution, product or service, compared to unwanted and irrelevant display ads they are bombarded with while browsing.

Search marketing results are usually predictable, can be targeted effectively and measured to calculate the ROI (Return on Investment). However, it is true that the search market becomes increasingly competitive and text ads such as Google AdWords only contribute to branding and awareness in a limited way.

In my view, display ads are not dead as part of an online marketing mix, and especially not on the Google AdWords content network or in an affiliate programme. But properly evaluate who else you are running your display campaigns with and whether search ads may not be a more (cost-)effective way of driving customers to your site.

Webinar by AdReady and ClickZ, Oct 2009

Filed under: Display/Banner Marketing, Hotel Online Marketing, Search Engine Marketing - SEM, , , , , , , , , , ,

What is the link between social media and search behavior?

GroupM Search and comScore just released the results of a study examining the relationship between social media exposure and search behavior.

Consumers were divided into 3 segments. Segment 1 was only exposed to a brand’s paid search. Segment 2 was exposed to social media, relevant to a brand’s category and segment 3 was influenced by social media that was specific to a brand.

Search behavior was broken into segments, based on the stage of the purchase funnel queries are made. Upper-funnel terms are usually more generic and express awareness and consideration, whereas lower-funnel terms express action and loyalty.

The findings were that consumers who searched AND engaged with social media were far more likely to search for lower-funnel terms. This was particularly the case when they belonged to group 2 and used social media exposed to a brand. In fact, these consumers were 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s products than consumers from group 1 that were only exposed to paid search.

Even though marketers have suspected this trend, the study supports and validates those assumptions for the first time. An estimated 50% increase in click-through rates occurred when consumers had been exposed to brand influenced social media as well as paid search. While generic keywords at the top of the funnel are popular, consumers use social media to change their mind on the products and services they would consider buying further down the decision process.

For brands this is a great opportunity to influence consumer discussions about their products and services using social media, although the challenge will be understanding how to allocate budgets between social media and paid search.

Read the comScore press release.

Filed under: Search Engine Marketing - SEM, , , , , , ,

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Corinna Witt : e-commerce, hotel internet marketing expert for hotels and the travel industry

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