In the fourth quarter of 2014, the average hotel brand lost an estimated 31,653 clicks per month to intermediaries bidding on their trademarks.
Brand Verity's report, which looked at a wide cross-section of industries, considered only search volumes in the final quarter of last year. The category included 25 of the most popular hotel brands according to monthly search volume in the United States, which was pulled from Google AdWords.
While hotel brands have been doing a stellar job at addressing bidding against their eponymous trademarks on both Google desktop and mobile, the survey found significant bleed on AOL, Bing and Yahoo.
This means that certain intermediaries are bidding against branded keywords, and then sending those clicks through to their own booking funnels. Hotels not only lose out on the click due to the use of the trademark, but also end up paying more for their own branded keywords.
The following graph shows how many ads per search engine results page were present for the surveyed hotel brands.
OTAs appear to be bidding far less on Google platforms, with an increase in share of ads on the other surveyed platform. This is a very interesting development and is likely due to Google's push to avoid non-owned trademark bids.
The report explains the "No Trademark" areas as such:
[OTAs] are also the most common advertiser in the No Trademark section at the top of each column, meaning there is more OTA advertising than is directly pictured in the chart (only advertisers with Trademark Usage are categorized into types such as OTA, Search Arbitrager, etc).
As far as the top ten "offenders" who are bidding on competitors' trademarks (the area under "No Trademark" in the above graph), there are some familiar names:
Notably absent is Expedia, who, of course, is in the regulatory approval phase of purchasing rival Orbitz Worldwide. It will be interesting to watch how that company's strategies may shift as it onboards a new brand that often bids against hotel keywords in paid search.
For hotel brands looking to directly address this ongoing issue with OTAs and others bidding on owned trademarks, the report recommends:
While OTA trademark bidding has almost entirely disappeared from Google and Google Mobile, it is still very present on AOL, Bing, and Yahoo. Further, OTAs make up a huge number of the No Trademark ads in the category. Hotel brands have done a good job of monitoring their brands on Google, but now they need to do the same on other search engines while also continuing to nuance their contracts with OTAs.
NB: Typewriter goodbye courtesy Shutterstock.