It is very easy to lose money with paid search.
Quote from Craig Paddock, director of search for MMGY Global, in an article on PhocusWire this week.
Modern travel marketing, part 4: Paid search
It's an easy statement to make (almost as easy as it is to create a pile of cash and set fire to it) when talking about the perils of Google Adwords and the dangers of apparently throwing good money after bad at it for prolonged periods of time.
But there are plenty of reasons why it remains one of the most popular marketing tactics in the travel industry.
Paid search gives brands obvious and clear visibility as to where their money is going and what works (or doesn't work).
It is also highly targeted, based on the search terms that potential users are throwing into Google.
This we all know. And have known for a long time.
The wrinkle in the world of paid search is not around tactics but one of volume, and the ability for brands to compete in adspend.
Expedia Group and Booking Holdings have become masters of the craft - so much so that they confidently spend north of $10 billion per year between them on this tried and tested marketing discipline.
Even the fellow mega-brands in travel, such as TripAdvisor, Airbnb et al, do not have the funds or wherewithal to go up against the these two powerhouses of PPC.
It is this situation that, for example, forms part of the Phocuswright Power Paradox theme for this year's conference in Los Angeles.
The glass-half-empty analysis says that the status quo will remain here until another marketing mechanism emerges, allowing competing brands to become proficient and capitalize.
The alternative view acknowledges that the status quo may continue in the short term but it is essentially unsustainable - both from a tactical and financial standpoint.
At the centre of this, and little mentioned, is the role, influence and evolving presence of the other powerhouse in this ecosystem: Google itself.
Perhaps there will come a point when the beancounters, despite the successful results, will decide that a strategy which feeds the brand that is, some argue, increasingly working against them and therefore is no longer worth supporting.
That, of course, will trigger wholesale changes to the way hotels, flights and other products are marketed - a switch that fundamentally will alter a digital marketing process that has now been in place for years.
This will ultimately only happen when one brand blinks first.
The identity of the brand that is willing to make such a step is still very much the unknown factor. And, as history tells us, large brands become risk-averse the larger that they get.
Back to the status quo, then.