Hote­liers often ques­tion why they should even bid on their own hotel name in paid search

HeBS Dig­i­tal, head­quar­tered in New York City, is a top dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm in the hos­pi­tal­ity indus­try. HeBS employs Adobe Search­Cen­ter+ to man­age the paid search mar­ket­ing of hotel brands, resorts, casi­nos, and bou­tique hotels.

Study Ques­tions

  • How do paid search cam­paigns results com­pare before and after bid rules were introduced?
  • Is rules-based per­for­mance on paid search the way to go?
  • Can bid rules improve the out­comes in the man­age­ment of SEM campaigns?

Study Method­ol­ogy

This pre/post study cov­ered a 12-month period. We ran­domly selected three inde­pen­dent hotels and eval­u­ated the key­word per­for­mance of the hotel name cam­paigns for six months. After intro­duc­ing bid rules, we then com­pared results at the end of the next six months. As these tests are very pro­gres­sive, pre­lim­i­nary research returned no insight into best prac­tices, con­di­tions or para­me­ters for these cam­paigns; there­fore, we used intu­ition and years of Inter­net mar­ket­ing expe­ri­ence to set three dif­fer­ent sets of conditions.

We first cre­ated dif­fer­ent sets of bid rules to see if there would be any mean­ing­ful results. For the first hotel case, we set the bid rule as fol­lows: only if the key­word appears in the third posi­tion or lower (4th, 5th, etc.) on aver­age in AdWords and has recorded 10 or more book­ings ini­ti­ated over a 90-day period, the bud­get should increase by 25 cents. Con­di­tions for the sec­ond hotel were sim­pler. If the aver­age posi­tion is lower than sec­ond on AdWords in any seven-day period, the bud­get should increase by 10 cents. For the third hotel, if the aver­age posi­tion was 2.5 or lower over a seven-day period, then increase the bud­get per key­word by 15 cents. An exam­ple of the actual bid rule imple­men­ta­tion in Adobe Search­Cen­ter+ can be seen below.

Every­thing was kept as con­sis­tent as pos­si­ble as to not influ­ence the results. During the course of these 12 months, the over­all bud­get did increase because there was no over­all fixed bud­get in our study, and the cam­paigns were mon­i­tored, but not mod­i­fied in any way to influ­ence study out­comes. For hotel name cam­paigns we used ad copy that sim­ply announced the offi­cial hotel web­site. By specif­i­cally test­ing hotel name cam­paigns, we lim­ited any biases that sea­son­al­ity might have played. Lastly, these hotels have small mar­ket­ing and PR bud­gets and had no sig­nif­i­cant pro­mo­tions or other activ­i­ties that would have influ­enced the traf­fic to the hotel in one part of the year over the other.

Study Results

The pre– and post-bid rule per­for­mance for each hotel is illus­trated in ‘Table I’ below. The results appear unan­i­mous for all three hotels. Using bid rules in Search­Cen­ter+ for the hotel name cam­paigns pos­i­tively influ­ences out­comes. Indeed the dif­fer­ence is dra­matic when com­pared to the prior six months.

Table I’ below describes the per­cent change from before to after bid rules were intro­duced at the end of the sixth month in this 12-month study. All three hotels gen­er­ated pos­i­tive results from the use of bid rules after the intro­duc­tion. In all cases, clicks, return on adver­tis­ing spend­ing (ROAS), cost per click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR) and aver­age posi­tion improved dramatically.

An increase in the cam­paign bud­get was expected since the bid rule con­di­tions set the price per key­word to increase if the search term in the cam­paign per­formed well. In each case, terms per­formed well and more of the bud­get was added to bid for higher posi­tion­ing and more expo­sure as con­ver­sions rolled in. After apply­ing bid rules, each hotel expe­ri­enced an increase in rev­enue from177% to 1600%.

Also, the CPC for each key­word declined, even as much as 67 per­cent for one hotel. Although more money was spent for the over­all cam­paign, the aver­age CPC declined. The drop in aver­age CPC sug­gests two things: first, the ad copy ad was strong and gen­er­ated more clicks, and sec­ond, the qual­ity score by Google rewards bet­ter per­for­mance with lower CPC.


Using evidence-based data from Search­Cen­ter+, HeBS Dig­i­tal con­fi­dently rec­om­mends that hotel mar­keters bid on the brand terms. The abil­ity to man­age all this was only made pos­si­ble by using Search­Cen­ter+. It is the only way to have an orga­nized, cogent, and coor­di­nated bid man­age­ment process.

About the Author

Jason Price, EVP, and Toby Tor­ney, Man­ager of the SEM Dept., at HeBS Dig­i­tal, the industry’s lead­ing full-service hotel dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and direct online chan­nel strat­egy firm based in New York City (www​.HeB​S​Dig​i​tal​.com).  HeBS Dig­i­tal has pio­neered many of the “best prac­tices” in hotel dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, social and mobile mar­ket­ing, and direct online chan­nel dis­tri­b­u­tion. The firm spe­cial­izes in help­ing hote­liers build their direct Inter­net mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion strat­egy, boost the hotel’s Inter­net mar­ket­ing pres­ence, estab­lish inter­ac­tive rela­tion­ships with their cus­tomers, and sig­nif­i­cantly increase direct online book­ings and ROIs.

HeBS Dig­i­tal & Adobe Partnership

With HeBS Digital’s exper­tise in the hos­pi­tal­ity indus­try and Adobe’s lead­ing edge dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and dig­i­tal media solu­tions, the two com­pa­nies have forged a part­ner­ship in best prac­tices in online mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion. To learn more about the part­ner­ship please visit us at http://​www​.heb​s​dig​i​tal​.com/​a​b​o​u​t​u​s​/​a​d​o​b​e​p​a​r​t​n​e​r​s​h​i​p​.​php or con­tact HeBS Dig­i­tal con­sul­tants at (212) 752‑8186 or success@​hebsdigital.​com.