What Happens When You Stop Running PPC Ads?


Paid search has become a cornerstone of digital marketing for hotels. It quickly rose to popularity and has remained one of, if not the largest line item on most hotels’ marketing plan budgets. Its popularity is repeatedly justified as it proves its success in driving qualified sessions and substantial revenue for hotels online. But what happens when you turn your paid search off completely? There’s always been the argument of bidding on brand terms (if you were wondering, you should be) but what about turning it all off? Top of funnel campaigns, bottom of funnel campaigns and campaigns to re-engage your audiences?

Has the thought entered your mind? Do you ever wonder if paid search advertising on Google is worth the cost?  With rising cost-per-clicks and more competition entering the marketplace daily, the question is: is it worth it?

This wasn’t a test we planned on purpose. A client was recently forced with the decision to pause all of their paid search campaigns. We knew there would be a negative impact, but how much? We took this opportunity to study the direct impact that turning off paid search campaigns had on the client’s website performance. Let’s take a look at what happens when a business stops running their paid search campaigns.


Overall website sessions dropped 20%

New users dropped 20%

Revenue dropped 30%


One theory we wanted to analyze is: WILL MY ORGANIC REVENUE AND TRAFFIC INCREASE WITHOUT PAID SEARCH? The simple answer is yes.

Organic traffic experienced a 43% increase and organic revenue increased 20% compared to the previous period when paid ads were running. The increase, however, was not enough to make up the difference of the lost revenue from paid search alone. So while it definitely helped to bridge the gap, overall there was a sharp decline in our website KPIs across the board.

Since all other channels remained flat in sessions and revenue, it painted a clear picture that the decline in performance was a direct result of the lack of paid search traffic.

So if you were ever wondering if it was worth paying to play on the search engine results page (SERPS) and theorized that paid search ads were essentially just pulling away from your organic traffic and revenue, this case study should give you some conclusive evidence. While paid search campaigns do cannibalize some traffic and revenue that would have come through organically, overall it exponentially drives sessions and revenue that goes above and beyond what would have come through organically.

Although we can’t say with certainty, another theory related to the impact of turning these paid search campaigns off is that the their competitors traffic went up and their cost-per clicks went down as one less advertiser was competing for those keywords, which probably helped them to pocket more revenue then normal.

So, if you’ve ever contemplated just turning off your paid search campaigns and letting organic pick up the slack, you should probably rethink your decision. Paid search is a key component in your hotel’s digital marketing strategy and proves it’s worth time and again as one of the most powerful ways to drive qualified sessions and revenue. It is definitely worth the extra budget to compete.

How Much Should I Spend on Paid Search for my Hotel?


We get this question all the time from prospective clients and new clients and it’s also something we revisit at least once (or more) every year for current clients. The truth is, there’s a lot more to it than picking a number based on the hotel’s location. It’s a complex answer that can only be determined by deep discovery and understanding of the hotel and its goals, the market the property is located within and historical data from the hotel. At GCommerce, every client’s budget recommendations are customized based on the hotel’s specific goals, historical performance and competitive landscape coupled with data from tools provided by Google, Bing and Doubleclick Ad Services.

7 Key Steps to Determining Paid Search Budget Recommendations for your Hotel

  1. Hotel Discovery & Determining Competitive Advantages - this guides our keyword research which helps us determine the estimated cost per click for qualified keywords. We seek answers to questions such as, What adjectives describe the hotel? What are the nearby attractions that drive visitors to the market? What are the top business drivers for the hotel? What are the hotel’s top competitors? What special amenities, services or events does the hotel support? Then we utilize keyword planner tools from Google and Bing to determine keyword CPC and traffic estimates.
  1. Establish business goals - we work closely with the client to determine their top priorities. Do they have a revenue goal they need to achieve? Does the client want to focus on driving more wedding or meeting business? Are they competing with OTAs to capture reservations? What are some of their biggest challenges and how might paid search help them overcome those hurdles?
  1. Complete Competitive Research - paid search pay per click costs are based on a bidding model. Competitive research factors in how many other advertisers are bidding on the same keywords, whether or not other advertisers are bidding on your brand name and also provides an understanding of highly valuable keywords we should be including in our campaigns.
  1. Analyze Historical Performance - the best way to estimate how specific budget recommendations will impact your bottom line or other business goals is to understand historical performance. GCommerce deep dives into website data, looking back multiple years, to gain insight into traffic, production, conversions, seasonality and other performance trends by month.
  2. Market Research - where is the hotel located? does the market experience any seasonality? We gather information from the client directly and utilize Google Trends to follow keyword popularity trends over time. It is important to allocate budgets as it correlates to business goals and seasonality in the market.
  1. Future Predictions - with a solid understanding of the hotel’s market and their previous performance, we can predict with a degree of confidence how much a specific budget might impact a hotel’s paid search marketing efforts. If they previously spent $Y and saw a return of $X, what kind of results would we expect if we increased or decreased their budget? Using this predictive modeling, we can find the optimal budget to ensure each has a healthy budget that reflects a positive Return On Ad Spend within their stated goals.
  2. Finalization of Target Keywords and Presentation to Client - last, we will prioritize these keywords based on relative competition, traffic, and the hotel’s goals. We will work closely with the client to ensure that all keywords are relevant to their business and end goals. Organizing these keywords into the most relevant Adgroups based on what is most likely to convert provides us with the best opportunity for success in starting with a new budget.

At GCommerce, we believe in a customized approach for every client. This is true for all aspects of the overall marketing strategy and is how we approach each client’s budget recommendations. We utilize the vast amount of historical data and experience we have from working with clients in markets all over the country and combine that with a custom analysis to provide the best hotel paid search budget recommendations possible.

If you’re interested in learning what you should spend on paid search for your hotel, please reach out to your Account Executive or Account Manager today. Not a GCommerce client? Not a problem. Contact us and we can help you get started with strategic paid search marketing solutions today!

Search Engine Marketing for Hotels


AUDIENCE TARGETING AND ITS INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING: As advertisers, we have the option to add specific audience targeting to paid search marketing campaigns. Google’s audience targeting was originally only available on display networks and YouTube campaigns, but in May 2017, Google expanded audience targeting to its paid search ad network. For advertisers in the hospitality industry, the in-market audience targeting options include demographics, such as age and gender.

AUDIENCE TARGETING FOR HOSPITALITY PPC: Age plays a vital part in marketing for the hotel and hospitality industry. The legal age to book a hotel room in the U.S. is 18 years old, but many hotels have the option to limit the booking age to guests who are 21 years and older. When evaluating previous traffic and booking behavior, we noticed a higher ratio of spending to revenue in people under the age of 25. Based on this information, we decided to focus our audience targeting for men and women above the age of 24. Currently, there are two different options for including audience targeting for hotels:

  • Focusing on specific demographics
  • Remarketing to the hotel’s returning guests

We focus on a few different types of remarketing. One type of remarketing is website targeting, which delivers ads to people who previously visited your website. Another form of remarketing through Google AdWords is audience retargeting to the hotel’s email distribution list. This is called Google AdWords Customer Match and includes any customer who stayed at the hotel or signed up for a newsletter. Targeting an audience that focuses on specific demographics requires an extensive knowledge of the property and the demographic groups that have the highest conversion rates. Google Analytics will track the conversions and separate each demographic group, based on age, gender, income, or location. Based on the information that we gathered for this hotel, we determined it would be most effective to target age demographics for our audiences.

THE LENOX HOTEL RESULTS: Our team at GCommerce Solutions ran a test for using audience demographic targeting within PPC campaigns for The Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay area of Boston. We completed the following bid adjustments:

  • Added negative bid adjustments of 90% to their audiences that had the lowest conversion rates (18-24 year-olds not searching for Name Terms)
  • Added positive bid adjustments of 25% to their audiences that had the highest conversion rates (45-54 and 55-65).

Our study includes data from June 11, 2017- July 20, 2017, compared to July 21, 2017-August 29, 2017. With changes in demographic targeting, we were able to better control our budget with a 5% decrease in cost per click and 7% decrease in total cost, while capturing a 4% increase in revenue for the property. The results of this test conclude that utilizing age/ demographic bid adjustments is a more accurate way to target the most qualified audience for this hotel, and allows us to increase our overall Return On Ad Spend. GCommerce recommends tracking data at the audience level to understand performance before implementing any bid adjustments. Specific adjustments and test parameters should be unique for your hotel, based on historical data. Please contact us if you have any questions about audience targeting and how you can better utilize this feature to improve performance.

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5 Perks of Using Search Keywords in Display Advertising Targeting



While advertising efforts at many companies are siloed within the different departments, the search and marketing specialists at GCommerce have been working at a more cohesive, full-funneled marketing approach. In an effort to have our search and display campaigns work more symbiotically, we’ve been utilizing search terms in our display prospecting campaigns. While bidding on paid search terms can be quite costly, our display platform allows for the ability to target up to 10,000 keywords to include or exclude for a lower average CPM than paid search efforts. While there are many advantages of using keywords for display advertising, here are a few:


Market terms tend to be more competitive and expensive – especially in highly – competitive markets such as Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. A hotel could blow through their entire budget trying to compete for terms such as “hotel in NYC” or “resorts in Miami.”When building a keyword list for a display network, it’s important to include these terms in your display advertising targeting, providing hoteliers the opportunity to serve a display ad to users who have searched for these terms within a recent window. If the user clicks on the display ad or visits the site later after remembering the ad, they will now fall into the “remarketing” category. After this occurs, hoteliers can serve these users remarketing ads in the form of social media, paid search, or another, more compelling and targeted, display ad.


Some display efforts only encompass more surface level targeting: geo-targeting, device targeting, and content verticals (i.e. the “types” of websites you would like your ads displayed on, such as technology, sports and entertainment, and music) By using search terms in your display targeting, you can ensure you’re reaching viewers who are in the research phase of their travel journey. For example, viewers searching for “flights to LA,” “Hollywood Bowl tickets,” or “hotel in Hollywood” would be more likely to book than someone who has not searched for those terms.


Who doesn’t want the opportunity to get in front of one of their competitors’ prospective clients? Keyword targeting in display ads provides our clients the opportunity to show one of their own display ads to someone who has searched for a competitor’s name. If your ads are compelling enough, this provides hoteliers the chance to make a great first impression on someone who would have booked elsewhere.



This is extremely helpful for very targeted and specific campaigns. For example- targeting for weddings can be difficult with traditional display efforts. Out of the million ad impressions you pay to serve, it is likely that only a fraction of those impressions were served to potential brides, grooms, or wedding planners. However, with keyword targeting, you can reach very qualified viewers searching “wedding venue in New York” with a beautifully crafted display ad showcasing the breathtaking venue.



If you’re a luxury brand, you don’t want to waste impressions on a viewer who is searching for a the cheapest rate– and if you’re a value-focused property, you don’t want to waste impressions on viewers seeking a luxury experience. The ability to exclude search terms is just as valuable as the ability to target them, especially as hoteliers’ average cost per acquisition continues to rise.





For users of Google’s Premium Analytics services, you may have noticed a slight change in the way that default metrics are being displayed. Google has removed the % New Sessions, added in Number of Sessions per User and New Users. They have also re-ordered the metrics to show Users and New Users ahead of Sessions.









% New Sessions can still be viewed in Custom Reports, Dashboards, and Segments or as a Secondary Dimension on most reports within Google Analytics.

We were unable to find any documentation from Google that they are updating the default views in Analytics. Representatives from Google Analytics would not confirm nor deny any changes, however, a support specialist was able to share over the phone that Google has internal documentation showing that this change is rolling out to all Google Analytics accounts over the next few months. This representative let us know that Google is moving to a focus centered more around Users, rather than Sessions, which is reflected in these updates.

Just last week, Google made an announcement that they would be extending Remarketing List Audiences across devices. They have also made numerous changes over the last few years in the way that ads can be remarketed. It seems that the move to a stronger focus on Users in Google Analytics is an effort to better track and target individual users with ads through Google’s Ad services across all devices, through multiple platforms and channels.

If Google is rolling out other changes with this one, it is yet to be seen. However, we expect Google to continue to advance their tracking, reporting, and advertising to be more user and audience focused with greater opportunities to remarket and segment individual users across devices and through multiple channels within Google’s extensive advertising network.

Guerilla Marketing Through Facebook Advertising


To some, April represents a race against the clock and scrambling to file taxes. To others, it equates to tax rebates and impromptu purchases. To hoteliers, it symbolizes struggle: the struggle to capture lost revenue resulting from mud season; the slow wait for the snow to melt and trails to dry. The solution? Connect consumers and their new-found disposable income with hoteliers looking to put heads in beds. The results of seasonal transitions are thoroughly understood by GCommerce. As residents of a resort town working with multiple hotels and resorts who must face the challenges of operating around seasonal traffic, we understand the trials and tribulations associated with putting heads in beds during these downturns in traffic. To ensure low cost-per-acquisitions (CPAs) and high return-on-investments (ROIs), hoteliers must ensure their marketing efforts are efficient. The ability to advertise on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-1000-impression (CPM) model, with both costs well below that of display advertising or media buys, allow hoteliers to deliver on the aforementioned objective. To date, GCommerce has seen an average ROI of 40-to-1 on Facebook Advertising campaigns.


Step 1: Match Need Periods to Upcoming Events

To the Tivoli Lodge, an iconic mountain town property, summer and winter mean high occupancy and a high ADR. Spring and fall however, equate to lower occupancy and a struggle to capture minimal market share. Crossmatching need periods with local events, those that put heads in beds, allow properties to combat seasonal lows.

Step 2: Determine Interest Surrounding Upcoming Events

Once a comprehensive list of upcoming events has been identified, determine what, if any garner enough buzz to be identified as an Interest on Facebook. Using Facebook’s Detailed Targeting tool, we’ve identified that the following Vail events garner enough traffic to build a campaign around – Vail Film Festival and Bravo! Vail Music Festival.


Step 3: Create an Informative Landing Page

A successful landing page will educate site visitors, providing thorough details about the event, and engage your audience, beautifully illustrating the experience that awaits.

Step 4: Develop Ads with Relevant Imagery and Copy

An eye-catching, vibrant image is a must. As our attention spans dwindle, it is imperative to capture the attention of those scrolling through their news feeds. Similar to your landing page, the ad should provide event details, yet focus on selling the experience to come rather than the product at hand. Your words must send your reader into a daydream, allowing them to imagine themselves at the event, as well as the experience they’ll have while staying at your property.


Step 5: Launch Your Campaign!

Satisfied with your landing page? Do your ads provide engaging imagery and captivating content? If your answer to both is yes, then you’re ready to launch your campaign! GCommerce recommends the utilization of conversion tracking through Facebook and custom URLs developed through Google’s URL Builder to track key data via Analytics. Challenged with need periods resulting from seasonal transitions? Look to Facebook Advertising to execute guerilla marketing efforts by targeting local events and attractions as a way to increase awareness, drive qualified traffic to your site, and capitalize on your new-found prospects. Questions? Concerns? Allow us to help launch your next campaign!