The travel industry is a massive source of digital ad spending, with an estimated 4.85 billion spent on digital advertising in 2015. The Priceline Group alone spent 1.8 billion of 2013’s 3.42 billion dollar travel ad spending. Travel writing– an exploding industry in itself, is a natural home for these travel industry ads. “Travel writing” yields 157 million Google hits and is growing daily. In a 2011 report, 70% of consumers said that they “trusted online recommendations”– and travel writers provide this. Of internet blog readers, 50% said they visited travel blogs.
Travel advertisers are willing to pay handsomely for their clicks. “Cheap Hotel Rooms” runs anywhere between $1.50-$2.00 CPC on the Google Display Network. “airport taxi” also ranges between $1 – $1.50 on GDN alone – as does “affordable airport car service.”
So if you’re running Google AdSense on your website you’d obviously want to attract these very lucrative advertisers.
What not to do:
1. Don’t create poor quality content designed to generate clicks
Google will catch on to this, ban your Adsense account, and you’ll have a bad day. Plus, your visitors will catch on and move on. Instead, create useful, insightful, and (if possible) entertaining content for longevity.
2. Don’t create ad layouts that facilitate invalid clicks
If you place an ad button right next to your content CTA button or have ads that confuse or “trick” visitors, you’re only hurting yourself. Over the long run this will decrease the CPCs your sites gets due to smart pricing. This is also annoying to your visitors, and an annoyed customer is not a customer you want. Plus, you don’t want to make Google mad.
3. Don’t host an advertiser free for all
Be selective with the advertisers you allow on your site. Over time it will reap rewards. The new web values quality content, and even if you have great content, hosting misplaced advertisements goes against your purpose of creating value and building a cohesive brand. Remember, your advertisers say as much about your values as your content does.
How do you attract them?
1. Content matching
The “power of suggestion” applies as much in online advertising as it does in real life. Maintain a consistent message throughout your site– from your content to your ads. If you want to attract ads for local yoga studios, yoga apparel, or flights to Southeast Asia, write about the “Top Yoga Retreats in Southeast Asia.” Your content and ads speak to the same audience, so while you don’t want to be too narrow in how you view your visitors, you should be careful to curate a cohesive theme. Your site visitors fit into consumer categories, and you should know what categories they fit into. Try to leverage your audience’s interests in your ads to demand higher CPCs.
2. Target high value long-tail keywords in your niche
Use Google’s display planner to find long tail keywords that have high CPCs and low competition. The long tail keywords are the complete phrases in your content that people search for in Google. They are also used by Adsense to match ads to your content. All it requires is a little ingenuity to find the best high value keywords. For example, the term “best camera for nature photography” is common, and demands lower CPCs than a more specific long-tail keyword like “best mid-level DSLR camera.” You can easily see which long-tail keywords give you the most CPC in your Adwords Keyword Planner.
3. Optimize your content for SEO using your keywords
SEO tactics should work for your AdSense as well. Just because Google’s cracked down on backlink spam and useless, albeit keyword packed content doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. Sure, your short keywords may not catapult your page to #1 in your niche, but you still need to make your content searchable based on your chosen keywords.
Also, your keywords help in a practical sense by answering the audience (and advertisers’) question “what’s in the box?” If you have a mountainbike tour blog, you should be using relevant words and synonyms for “biking,” “mountainbiking,” “cycling,” and variations of the word “tour” in your content. Using content and niche appropriate keywords help you get ads that fit best with your brand.
4. Localize your content over high CPC local keywords
Local search is massive– especially for mobile search. Local ads are the next logical step. Your site visitors indicate their location through their IP address, and this information is used to serve location-based advertisements. Take a look at some of the higher earning local searches for relevant local advertisements. For instance, San Francisco airport taxi generates higher CPCs than Cleveland airport taxi. So do a little digging when you choose your local ads. The little adjustments could pay off big!
5. Optimize your content for every travel season
Of course, you should be generating quality content for every travel season regardless of ad implications. But if you’re not, you’re missing out. Include content for winter travel, summer travel, spring and fall to maintain your CTR and conversions with your advertisers. Even if you strictly deal with the summer crowd, get inventive and get your posts noticed for those high value long-tail keywords. It’s all about matching content with advertisers.
6. Use custom ad channels
Custom ad channels help you segment your advertisers into the right content verticals of your website. This helps you maintain a sleek, predictable ad format that doesn’t interfere with your content. Using custom channels allows you to A/B test ad sizes and format between different ad types. This allows you to control for relevant variables to produce content consistent with your ad clicks. So if that post on Yoga in Southeast Asia returns more clicks on yoga related ads, but nothing on Southeast Asia travel, then it may be wise to create more yoga related content or serve more ads relevant to this topic (since it resonated with your audience). Custom channels helps you generally increase ad revenue through optimization, and attracts ad sellers who know that their ads will be placed in an ideal location.
7. Optimize your ad layout for mobile
It’s astonishing how many websites are stuck in 2003. Mobile is here to stay. Advertisers recognize its utility since it’s the most common form of web traffic. What do most travellers use on the road? Mobile. You should be able to see where I’m going with this. Truly, it’s not that difficult to migrate your site and content to a responsive platform that will help your mobile clicks. If you’re serious about getting the most ad revenue out of your travel website, get on it now!
8. Use the best performing ad sizes
Despite what some would hope, size matters. Especially with ads. Just as segmenting advertisers contributes to your content flow, choosing ad sizes that convert should contribute to the overall flow of your site. Google even helps you find the top performing ad sizes: You lose out on revenue if your visitors don’t click on the ads, but you also lose visitors (and revenue) if your ads are obtrusive. So strike a balance here.
9. Use the Adsense review center
This should be self-evident, but you should be reviewing every ad that might be served on your site with the review center. If an ad has a low impression score, you might consider blocking the ad (although blocking adwords accounts altogether could impact your ability to get quality ad bids later). The review center can also help you search for the ads you want. Remember, it’s your site– take control of your ad destiny.
The travel industry advertising pie is massive (and growing). So if you have a travel website, follow these 8 tips to cut off a substantial piece of that ad spend for yourself. If you have quality content and an audience, the money will come.
Of course, if you want to provide a brand safe environment for your advertisers you have to see what visitors see from across various locations, devices, etc. Most VPNs will provide you with datacenter IPs to test your ads. However, this will provide you with a very skewed and inaccurate picture. Only VPNs with fixed residential IPs can help you create a brand safe environment for your advertisers and a seamless experience for your visitors.
Eyal Katz is head of marketing at Pangeo. Eyal also likes long walks on the beach at sunset, having a cocktail with friends, and listening to Swedish Death Metal