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.
Now, the company is reported testing a new "Promoted Hotels" ad format on its Hotel Finder, letting 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. 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," reports Tnooz.
When Google Hotel Finder displays a Promoted Hotel the ad is labeled as such, but if consumers think the ad is from the hotel, they would be mistaken because most often it is not.
Depending on which company wins the bid, "When a user clicks, a larger window appears, roviding more information about the hotel, including user reviews, basic facts like address and phone number, an owner's statement and images."
It also includes a button labeled as "Book" at right with the base rate for the hotel, which allows users to book rooms immediately on the advertiser's site. The total rate, including taxes and fees, appears in a much smaller font size.
The booking link most frequently is for an OTA website, but sometimes hotels win the bid for the premier placement on the page, as InterContinental Hotels did below:
The advertiser pays for the ad on a cost-per-click basis when consumers click on the red button, taking them to the OTA or hotel website. The bids come through Google's Hotel Price Ads program.