Google plants Hotel Finder tool right above every other ad

More developments at Google likely to tweak the noses of the hotel industry and online travel agencies as it puts tools for Hotel Finder at the top of search results.

A search for a hotel in some country markets now sees a new box appear at the top of the page titled “Comparison Ads”, featuring direct links to options on Hotel Finder, the search giant’s foray into a hotel search system elsewhere.

Initially only seen in the US, users in a number of countries are now seeing the Hotel Finder tool in search results.

The ire is expected to come from those bidding on keywords to get placement in pay-per-click results either in premium slots at the top of the page or in the existing sidebar.

The format and title being used, Comparison Ads, was originally only for users looking for financial services products such as mortgages and insurance.

Google said in February 2010 that it would consider using Comparison Ads for travel products, but other events appeared overtook it when the ITA Software acquisition kicked in during the summer of 2010 (finally approved in April this year).

Tnooz’s source, a hotelier in Las Vegas, says:

“The implications are many, especially to meta search competitors such as Kayak, but of course to OTA’s like and Expedia. In competing with us for clicks traffic in paid search, calling it an ‘Comparison ad’, Google is pushing users towards its Hotel Finder property.

“I see CPC’s increasing and there will probably be a CPA model once they push enough traffic to this property. Google Places already negatively impacted our clicks share and now Google is competing directly with advertisers? I think it’s extremely reckless and evil.”

A Google official says the company has been testing “interactive promotional ads that link to Hotel Finder over the last few months” and confirms that the ads are appearing across English-speaking markets at present.

Google’s move will validate what the likes of Expedia have been saying in recent weeks, suggesting that what the search giant does in the hotel space is potentially where the greater returns are for the company.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Alessandro C

    It could be the first step towards a long process of disintermediation from the overwhelming power of OTAs. Something we knew it would come, but I expect new steps for the next future

  2. Big shuffle in the world of hotel marketing and distribution in 2012 | China Hotel E-Marketing Strategies

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  5. Matt Cutts

    So much distrust towards us when we just want to organize the world’s information. Before complaining, have you checked Amit Singhal’s 24 suggestions on how to build a good site? Is your site unique, as in never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever done before? If your site is commercial and contains words used in other sites then it may be considered thin or shallow content. Especially if we have a similar service.

    Remember, it’s not money that motivates us. We are Googlers, we just want to make sure people have access to hotel bookings online, something that has never been done before we did it.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @matt cutts – err, yes, thank Mr Cutts. Try using your real name next time 😉

  6. Bob

    Is Google now completely out of control? Doesn’t this just add evidence for the abuse of market dominance argument? “Oh ok fellas, coz we own search we’re just gonna put our own product to the top of the list, so well, effictively, screw you and your CPC businesses”

    Once Upon A Time, there was this guy called Rockerfeller and he…

  7. Destination360

    Not seeing Hotel Finder results here but when testing in IE a new Google toolbar feature loaded called Google Related. A bar on bottom of browser with related pages. I had to disable toolbar to remove it.

  8. Robert Gilmour

    Simple comments come to mind, like – why shouldn’t it. it always perplexes me why some people seem to take a hot flush over everything that Google does.

    This, and other Google initiatives, taken together, could be a game changer for the hotel and travel sector. Also lets see what the customers, rather than the critics, say.

    if critics were as passionate about the ‘antics’ of OTA’s as they were about Google – well – > actually nothing would happen/change

  9. Pete Meyers

    Remember the good ol’ days when Google delivered search results?

  10. Greg Abbott

    This is just a tiny step along in the process…Wouldn’t we be a bit naive to say we all didn’t know this was coming? How else would google intend for searchers to “find” the Hotel Finder product if not on the top front page?
    I hold out hope that the eventual iterations will lead to a “greater good” of making my hotel / travel search experience “better” & supporting marketer’s advertising agenda (now who’s being naive!!! 😉 Everyone will have to evolve online ad strategy around Google’s path in travel whether we like it or not…

  11. Oz Har Adir

    I fully agree its a big (and interesting deal) and I see it as part of Google’s large strategic plan: shifting all commercial clicks to be paid clicks. I think that already now, in almost every commercial sector I can think of, the various types of paid clicks (or soon-to-be-paid clicks) are more relevant to me than the organic results. In some situations, such as many foreign languages, the organic content = spam or low quality UGC, while only the paid content has any value to the user. Google isn’t ‘solving’ this issue – because, well: it does not have an interest to solve it.

    Said thing is that the only place where Bing tried competing with Google is the US market, with its English/Spanish speaking audiences. Had it tried competing in non-English markets, where Google’s organic results are relatively poor, it might have had a chance to gain traction and to change the course of this race. But it didn’t, and we would be left with no organic commercial search soon in most sectors, and surely in travel.

    • James Lavigne

      “Google’s large strategic plan: shifting all commercial clicks to be paid clicks”

      I think this is spot-on, and it’s becoming clearer every day. We have seen it in general over the last year or so with the panda update and other algorithm “improvements”, making it increasingly clear that the only way to rank consistently is to buy the links.

  12. Stuart

    “Extremely reckless and evil.”

    Couldn’t say it any better myself.


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