Slate Magazine published an article earlier this week, which cited a recent Ebay study that blasted Pay Per Click advertising, the primary revenue source for companies like Google. The study was widely debated within Search Engine Marketing (SEM) circles and has been a popular topic among top consultants. The study essentially concluded that paid advertising for certain searches was relatively ineffective. The article claimed that paid search had little to no impact on product or service sales. So what does this mean for the travel industry?
First of all, we have to establish the credibility of the study. Certainly Ebay is a competitor of Google’s and has therefore a stake in taking down its rival a notch or two. A closer read of the findings shows that the results of the study relate primarily to branded keywords and not targeted. So for example, if a consumer is searching for Hilton Hotels, Ebay’s research claims that there is little to no benefit to paid search results over organic. This may be true. If consumers are searching for Hilton, then they are likely not interested in any web property other than that of Hilton’s. If, on the other hand, a consumer searches for a targeted keyword such as Bali Hotels, then paid search is much more likely to be effective. In this case, consumers are looking for alternatives and a well-written, well-placed ad could prove to be effective.
Google’s own research contradicts that of Ebays, and there is some evidence that Ebay’s data, as well as their own ad platform, is poor. Furthermore, a Search Engine Land article sites sloppy campaigns and ad placements within Ebay’s paid search platform.
So should travel companies still buy ad placements in Adwords? We have had enormous success with Adwords for our clients over the years. Most ineffective PPC campaigns produce few bookings or sales because the campaign isn’t conducted properly. Adwords is a difficult tool because it has so many options that allow for the customization of ads. This is intentional on Google’s part because it gives the advertiser much more control over the success of an ad. Because it is so complicated, however, many novice advertisers give up before the ad has had enough time to produce significant results. Advertising in Adwords takes time. It also takes close attention to the nuances of consumer behavior. It is highly advisable that if a travel company decides to try Adwords, they consult with an Adwords certified professional.