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This is a common question I get asked, why should I bid on my own brand name in Adwords? “Why should I pay money to advertise to an audience who are already searching for my name?”

Well, the fact is, if you don’t you are potentially losing revenue…let me explain.

There is no hiding the fact that the OTA’s have billion dollar Adwords budgets. In fact, Google Adwords have over 1 million different advertising clients, however Priceline and Expedia’s digital ad spend equates to nearly 5% of all of Google’s advertising revenue.

OTA’s and the comparison sites dominate the first page of the search results both in Adwords and Organic for most searches “hotels in [location]”. They are also invariably running Ads on your hotel name as well. However, because of the vast volume of search terms that the OTA’s are bidding on, their Ads are generated mostly by software. When you create a branded campaign you have the benefit of controlling the ad copy, site link extensions, phone number & click to call extensions along with the special offer or landing page for your Ad.

Adwords is an auction.

The cost of your Adwords click is dependent on the relevance of the landing page to the search query. The higher the relevance, the lower the cost. Naturally, your hotel’s website is going to be more relevant to the search query for your hotel name than any OTA’s landing page, therefore you are going to pay less for the coveted #1 position.

In the number 1 position you can take up even more real-estate by employing the use of the site links, snippets, reviews and review scores. Pushing the OTA’s Ads further down the page.

You control the Ad copy.

With the OTA’s they are likely to have an Ad saying ‘280 Hotels in Brisbane : Serviced Apartments’. This is software generated Ad copy. On the other hand, you have the advantage of advertising last minute deals ‘Book Tonight and Save 10%’ or other points of difference about your hotel ‘Free WiFi & Free Parking’ ‘Book Direct to Save’.

Benefit of click to call.

OTA’s do not want to take phone call bookings – their business model is reliant on their sophisticated online booking engines. Create two branded search term campaigns, and set the second one up as a click to call only. Increase the bid by 100% for mobile devices and you now have a branded click to call campaign running on mobile devices. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and has a click to call phone number in a prominent position in the header.

What does a search result page look like for your brand name?

Before you begin, do a search for your brand name. Who is advertising? Are there OTA’s or other competitors? Do they have your Brand Name displaying in their Ad copy? Then check, what is showing in the Google My Business (Maps) and which sites are displaying on the front page? Take stock and then take steps to take back the space.

If you don’t run a branded search campaign, you are likely paying 12% – 25% commission on something that should be either a free listing for you or one that costs a lot less through Google AdWords than the OTA commission.

Doesn’t my trademark count?

No. On the 21st March 2013 Google announced a change in their trademark policy that applies to all advertisers in Australia. Coming into effect in April, this has changed your competitors ability to bid on your brand name. So, if you are not bidding on your own brand name, someone else likely will be.

Is is cost effective?

Try it for yourself and see. If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed, now is a good time to do that. Make sure you have revenue tracking set up because you want to measure the return on investment. If you are typically paying 25% commission and your average booking value is $400, then you need to keep your cost per acquisition below $100. This should be easy right – brand name searches are typically the lowest cost keywords and should be less than $1 per click. If you have a conversion rate of 5%, then you will return 5 bookings for every 100 visitors at a cost of $100 advertising spend.

If for nothing else – bid on your brand name for insurance.

If you only decide to do one bit of digital marketing, do Google AdWords for your hotel brand name. It is a fraction of the cost compared to the keyword “Your City” + the word “Hotels”. The OTA’s know this so if your hotel is not running that ad, the OTAs will own that advertising space above your organic listing. You’ll then pay 12% – 25% commission on something that should be either a free listing for you or one that costs a lot less through Google AdWords than the OTA commission.

Lisa has extensive experience in the SEO for the hotel and accommodation industry having worked with some of Australia’s largest brands including IHG, Crown Plaza Hotel Group, the National Convention Centre Canberra, Star Casino, Punthill Apartment Hotels and Hotel Ibis World Square. She also has international SEO experience working with the SEO and inbound marketing strategies for the Nantucket Hotel and Winnetu Oceanside Resort in the USA. If you have questions about your hotels marketing strategy, drop her a line or request a free audit.