Important novelty! Google begins to show free ads within Google Hotel Ads


At Roiback Digital, the Roiback division specialized in digital marketing, we are constantly searching for news, tests and new functionalities that can help optimize the digital marketing management of our hotel clients.

On this occasion, a few months ago we saw that Google was showing some complementary ads within Google Hotel Ads (GHA) in the “Travel” section, just below the usual GHA ads.

Since November, when we began to detect these new announcements, we already knew what it could be about, everything indicated that they could be announcements with real availability within GHA but without an associated cost. Anyway, it was time to wait and stay tuned for events and official Google announcements.

Today, finally, Google has officially announced on its blog that these are indeed free GHA links and that they are now available to any hotel that has an official “connectivity partner” that can display prices within the GHA platform. Roiback as an official partner of Google has the development for Free Booking Links which is how Google has baptized it in its post and therefore all Roiback hotels, both those that use our Booking Engine and those that do not, can choose to show their rates in GHA either in the payment section or in the free section.

This change could revolutionize the focus and functionality of the tool: bidding strategies, investments and why not, performance in general.

Below the classic label "Ads - Featured options" where 4 ads are shown (in this case the official website in first position and 3 OTAs), another section has been added with the label "All options", where they are shown many more ads.


In this new section there are 10 ads and a "see more options" link, which when clicked shows some more free ads.

At this point in the article, dozens of questions will probably come to mind, but the information is very scarce at the moment.

These initiatives generally start as "Alphas", with 1% of world traffic. As the first results and conclusions are achieved, they are extended to "Betas" until they are finally open to all users, which is what has happened today. At Roiback we participate in the phases

Experiments with Google and that is why our hotels were occasionally shown with both paid and free ads.


How many spaces will be paid and how many free?

For now, 4 paid ads and 10 free ads are displayed by default. Obviously this can vary depending on the results that Google experiences and the user experience in general.


What factors influence the ranking of free spaces?

On the one hand, it is necessary to have a Google technology partner that can provide the hotel's rate inventory to Google, in this case Roiback has been doing so for several years and all our hotels have this option as of today.

Another of the most important factors, how could it be otherwise, will be the PA (Price Accuracy) or Price Accuracy Policy. As we already know, the PA is key for the good performance of Google Hotel Ads campaigns.

This is Google's pricing policy, which is intended to ensure a good user experience when interacting with your prices. Google can rate PAs as: Excellent, Good, Poor, At Risk, or Failed. This sure factor will be taken into account when it comes to having a good position in the free ads of Google Hotel Ads. At Roiback we monitor BP every day and we are always obtaining Excellent ratios.

In the absence of official confirmation from Google, other factors may be the response speed of the page, the usability of the engine or the quality of the content sent to Google, among others.

It also seems essential that the hotel listing within Google My Business is approved. At Roiback we also advise on this and all our hotels are correctly linked with GMB.


What should a hotel do to appear on Google Hotel Ads free booking links?

By default, all Roiback hotels are prepared to be shown in the free ads and therefore do not need to do any additional management since they are all active in this new section.

To display free links, Roiback Metasearch specialists must create special campaigns for free booking links with bids of 1 cent. In this way, Google will be able to collect the prices and display them in this section. There is no need to worry because even if these campaigns are activated with a bid, they will have no cost.


Can a hotel appear only in the free spaces?

Yes, it is possible to go out only in the free spaces. In any case, from Roiback we recommend always leaving both the paid option and the free one. It must be considered that the vast majority of traffic will continue to be for paid spaces, whether in the search panel, Universal or Travel. You should not make the mistake of trusting yourself and activating only the free part because sales will drop considerably.


Does the click on the new free spaces have any cost?

No, if they are free they have no cost, like organic results.


Are these new spaces available on Google Maps?

From what we have investigated, at the moment we only see them in Google Travel but surely sooner or later it will be extended to Google Maps or Univers.


Why has Google made this change?

Here there may be different interpretations. Ours in Roiback Digital is that for the “Hotel” sector, over the years Google has given too much visibility to paid spaces, relegating free spaces to lower positions and with less possibility of achieving a click.

This has led to many smaller players or with less investment, not being able to bid for spaces with greater visibility. We have already seen in recent months that Google has applied similar changes in other verticals such as retail, with modifications when it comes to displaying products on Google Shopping. What Google tries to do is give more visibility and opportunities to the entire hotel inventory worldwide and as always tries to find a balance between paid and free results. Well, it has already done so within GHA.


To conclude:

Very important new feature of Google Hotel Ads that does not stop innovating and surprising us. On the one hand, we see it as an opportunity for the hotel's official website, since if we do things well we can achieve double visibility and many clicks, visits and free reservations as in the real example that we show:



And on the other hand, it will be necessary to prepare because the first 4 positions will most likely become more expensive and the bids will have to be increased in the long term.
In any case, still too early to draw conclusions. We will see how this initiative evolves in the coming weeks.


We will keep you informed! Stay tuned!



Felipe Bravo

Head of Digital Marketing

Felipe has been linked to the digital marketing world since 2001 and is currently leading Roiback’s Digital area for over 7 years.


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