HPA: the Google war to end all metasearch wars

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simone puorto consulting - hpa

Google has been not-so-quietly going after the biggest piece of the metasearch pie for some time now. Google Hotel Ads has a click volume that supposedly surpasses Tripadvisor’s and its advanced bidding capabilities are arguably the best of the bunch. Bearing in mind that Hotel Ads only launched in 2011 (when the service was known as Google Hotel Finder), its growth - and success - has been astronomical.

Google has such an untouchable advantage when it comes to traffic: an estimated 4.5 billion searches are made per day on Google, accounting for 77% of the world’s total search traffic.

While only a comparatively small percentage of those will be for travel and accommodation, having the world’s internet traffic at your disposal is a pretty solid foundation for a metasearch offering. The reach of the Trivago guy suddenly seems pale in comparison.

Google’s been accused of abusing its monopoly by prioritising its own (paid) metasearch results above organic search listings - an accusation which comes with a 2.4 billion dollar fine

Hotel Ads’ prominence and popularity make them a fairly reliable and uncomplicated first step for hoteliers just entering the world of metasearch. The concern (and sometimes annoyance) shown by other metas over Google’s growth would suggest that they, too, can see Google fast becoming the metasearch of choice for both advertisers and consumers.

The consumer experience particularly is getting richer day by day: travellers can now search for hotels, read reviews, compare prices, and book rooms all without leaving Google’s domain. That full-funnel offering is only going to be compounded as advancements are made in Natural Language Processing (NLP) for Google’s voice search: it’s going to be sooner rather than later that guests can go from ‘research’ to ‘book’ within one conversation.

Consumers are looking for an ever-shorter ‘booking journey’ - and that means performing as many stages as possible in one place. By all but controlling the ‘search’ phase, Google are already ahead of the competition.