New opportunities in online advertising

My company, GCommerce Solutions, is about to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in June. My how the world has changed in one short decade! When we started, hotels were just starting to implement decisive strategies to attract new visitors to their websites. A company called Overture was redefining online advertising, offering a system that allowed companies to bid for placement on certain search keywords. Still in its infancy, paid search marketing was getting a small portion of a hotel’s advertising budgets. Over the next 10 years, paid search marketing tactics grew to become an indispensible tool used by a great majority of savvy hotel marketers. 

In 2003, Yahoo purchased Overture to become the centerpiece of its paid search marketing efforts. Google emerged as the top search engine and paid search-marketing platform, and over time, executives in the hotel industry perfected their search-marketing practices. New tools became available, but for the most part, the essence of buying position on search engines remained intact. Until recently, laggards in the industry were still questioning the effectiveness of the marketing channel, under-funding search-marketing efforts in exchange for spending on more traditional channels. 

Knowing what we know now, how would you spend a hotel marketing budget in 2003, 2004 or 2005? Would you have committed a great percentage of your marketing budget to Google and Yahoo, aggressively competing for customers on a channel that many competitor hotels had failed to embrace? Yes. And the same opportunity exists today.

Online display advertising — those adverts you see on most of your favorite websites — is not new. However, new tools are making display advertising more targeted, more efficient and, ultimately, more profitable. However, a great number of hotels — your competitors — are not taking advantage of the advertising medium. In my opinion, display advertising will enjoy significant growth in the travel industry over the coming years. While new tools will become available, the die has been cast. Right now, you can target customers that meet your target specifications with compelling display ads that will gain their attention. You can buy this advertising inventory when your competitors are not, giving you an advantage in your market. 

In the past, advertisers would contact individual sites to inquire about and purchase advertising space. The process was expensive and cumbersome. Results varied wildly, and tracking was difficult to implement. Today, however, advertisers are able to buy space in advertising networks, targeting high-value prospects at just the right time. In a future post, I will detail the targeting options available. You may be surprised at just how strategic and decisive you can be with your display campaigns. 

Make a calculated decision to embrace display advertising, and gain ground on your competitors still stuck in 2005.