Hotel industry, you’re on notice: Google appears to be running a test that places its own Google Hotel Finder at the top of very competitive, hotel-related queries.
Search Engine Land reader Alex, who works in the hospitality industry, tipped us to this development and at least one of our SEL editors was able to replicate it on a search for “las vegas hotels.”
The Hotel Finder ad is listed as a “comparison ad” and is separated very slightly from the regular AdWords listings below it. It occupies premium space at the top of Google’s search results and pushes hotel ads and organic listings further down the page. The comparison ad invites searchers to select a hotel quality level and click a “Book hotels” button. It’s quite similar to the mortgage comparison ads that Google launched in late 2009. Comparison ads are now also available for credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs (the money kind, not music).
The Hotel Finder is a somewhat innovative hotel search tool that mainly separates itself from some other sites by letting users draw shapes on a map to indicate where they’re looking for a place to stay. From the Hotel Finder, searchers can book hotel rooms directly via Google’s Hotel Price Ads — an ad program that seems to mainly consist of third-party advertisers, not hotels themselves.
I won’t claim to speak for anyone in hospitality businesses, but as our tipster Alex said, “this is huge for the hotel industry.” These Hotel Finder ads, if and when they become more than a test, would be the first that aren’t related to the financial industry.