January 31, 2013

Google’s expanded travel focus revamps marketer landscape

In just the past 18 months, Google has launched Flight Search and Hotel Finder, in addition to acquiring restaurant and travel guide mainstays Zagat and Frommer’s. Now the company is integrating this travel-specific content into its search results, maps, social graphs and mobile services.

Google’s stated mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” And recently it has extended that effort into the travel space, upending the online landscape for travel marketers, according to a new eMarketer report, “Travel Search Redefined: What Google's Travel Content Means for Marketers.”

Google’s Hotel Finder and Flight Search have fundamentally altered what travel consumers see above the fold on search engine results pages (SERPs). Travel researchers who search potential flight destinations or hotel accommodations will no longer see 10 blue links immediately below the top-of-page paid search ads. Consumers instead see flight times or hotel website links with rudimentary pricing information, powered by Google, immediately underneath sponsored ads.

Google Maps will see some of the most noticeable results of Google’s travel-related acquisitions. And of all the various types of pages and websites used by travelers, Google Maps is the most heavily trafficked, particularly on mobile. Search results in a mobile browser slant even more significantly to Google’s metasearch products than do desktop search results, due to mobile’s small screen size.

Get the full story at eMarketer