When analyzing performance on TripAdvisor, we often find ourselves taking the time to consider where our ads are ranked in the auction. This is in part because advertisers ranked in the top three positions receive significantly more clicks than advertisers in lower ranking text links. Needless to say, maintaining a high level of visibility for popular hotels is an important part of driving campaign volume. This can be challenging at times as we typically see increased competition for top hotels in popular locals. If not closely monitored, a change in competition can cause an ad to be pushed out of the top 3 slots and in turn reduce its visibility significantly.
With this in mind, we wanted to get a better look at which advertisers were holding these coveted top positions. Our approach included searching Tripadvisor.com to find hotels near the 10 most popular travel destinations for US travelers. We collected the top 10 hotels in each destination based on TripAdvisor’s popularity algorithm and used their rank methodology to identify advertisers in the top three positions for each of the 10 hotels.
What we found…
First, we looked at the top 5 frequently occurring ads on an individual advertiser bases. From the data we collected, we concluded that Booking.com was ranked in the top three positions 37% of the time, making them number 1 in terms of visibility. Trailing behind was Hotels.com in second place, followed by Expedia, Agoda, and Priceline respectively. Interestingly, we noticed that all of the 5 top advertisers happened to be OTAs.
While doing an inclusive analysis accounting for brand ownership, we found that The Priceline Group made up 47% of total advertisements, and Expedia Inc. came in second with 34%. Together these two companies accounted for 81% of top ranking advertisements on TripAdvisor.
Overall visibility in the top 3 positions appears to be highly monopolized by OTAs. We found that hoteliers were showing in the top 3 positions less than 12% of the time with only 3% visibility in position 2. The below graph highlights the prevalence of OTAs in the top 3 positions.
Out of the 300 advertisements we analyzed, 32% of them were Instant Booking placements. We also found that 66% of the time when an hotelier’s ad was in a top position, it was visible as an Instant Booking placement. These ads operate in a separate auction from Meta and are typically placed in either the 1st of 3rd position. This explains the lower percentage of visibility for hoteliers in position 2 as shown in the previous graph.
So, all in all…