As well as joining the $10.5billion online marketing splurge, Google has been investing in people.
Google have been launching a series of teams targeting the big SEM verticals - Technology, Finance, Retail, etc and of course Travel. This has been the case in Australia as well as elsewhere in the world. TravelWeekly is carrying an interview with fellow ex-Cendantite Claire Hatton who is the new Google Head of Travel for Australia and New Zealand.
Claire is a great catch for Google. She and I met up recently for lunch to talk about the old days and almost closed down the restaurant as our discussion around online travel, online marketing, meta-search, social networking, UGC, etc continued without end. She has already put together a strong team with more to follow I'm sure.
The great thing about the travel vertical in search is that almost every word is in play. In something like mortgages or credit cards there are a very limited number of words worth bidding for - "credit card", "loan", "interest rates", "money", "finance" and maybe a few more but certainly less than 20. However in travel every single word can have a correlation. Every destination word, every activity word, every place word, business words, leisure words, governmental words...all can have a travel angle, all are worth something to an online marketer. This is why you hear of finance companies with a hundred or so phrases under bid management and travel companies with millions.
As well as being a huge opportunity it is also an often misunderstood challenge for travel companies. With so many words to bid on a company cannot afford to take a lazy approach to SEM. Lazy approaches are where you either bid blindly on the main words (say Hotels in Sydney, Flights to London) and wait to see what happens, or outsource the whole thing to an agency and let them bid a little less blindly on main words and wait to see what happens. Internal systems are needed that track words through to conversion and customer acquisition, that can enable different measurable events (click, purchase, email registration) to be tracked and allow bidding in different keyword and IP address combinations. Just as important, smart people are needed.
Congrats to Claire on the new role.