Google is testing a new ad format on its Hotel Finder product that lets marketers bid to appear at the top of search results. Promoted Hotels ads are ranked based on a combination of bid and quality score, and are sold on a CPC basis. News of the experiment was first reported on Tnooz.
The ads — one or two per results page — show at the top of search results with a shaded background, and have a small “Ad” indicator on the top right of the rectangle. The ad itself contains the same information as an organic result — user ratings, the star rating (4-star, 3-star, etc.), the per-night price (excluding taxes and fees), and an indicator of how that current price compares to the “usual” price.
When a user clicks, a larger window emerges that provides information about the hotel, including user reviews, basic facts like address and phone number, an owner’s statement and images. Most importantly, it also includes a “Book” button, which allows users to book immediately on the advertiser’s site. This may create a difficult situation between online travel agencies and the hotels themselves, who are often competing to have the booking occur on their own site.
Google recently revealed that it is using something of a paid inclusion model in certain verticals, including shopping, hotels, financial services and air travel — in that no company will be listed unless Google has some kind of financial relationship with that company. This new Promoted Hotels ad type seems to fit into that model. For now, though, it’s still experimental.