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By Margaret Mastrogiacomo, Vice President Strategy

This month, the industry is abuzz about new Google AMP updates, consumers gaining the ability to mute retargeting ads on the Google Display Network, and ensuring that display campaigns meet the requirements of the Coalition for Better Ads to avoid being blocked in the Google Chrome browser.  From SEO to design, read on to learn the top five things you need to know now in hotel digital marketing, and stay informed.

1. SEO: New Features for AMP Pages including AMP Stories and AMP for Email.  

While last month it was the Google Speed Update making headlines, in February it’s important to also ensure your mobile strategy is ready for the latest in Google AMP updates including the release of AMP Stories and AMP for Email. AMP Stories are a visually rich content format designed to provide new storytelling options for brands on the mobile web very similar to Instagram Stories or Snapchat, while AMP for Email delivers the Accelerated Mobile Pages experience to users’ inbox for more interactive and engaging email experiences within Gmail.

Google AMP for Email allows email content to update in real-time, and allows recipients to browse and interact with an email, such as RSVP to an event or schedule a meeting without ever having to leave Gmail. HEBS Digital is currently working on developing strategies to best utilize these new features including ways to better feature visually engaging destination and hotel content through AMP Stories and more.

And last but not least, don’t forget Google has updated its AMP schema to require larger images in markup. Previously, the minimum requirement for image sizes was 696 pixels wide and 300,000 pixels in total, but now it is a larger image size featuring 1,200 pixels wide and 800,000 pixels in total. To maximize visibility of your Google AMP pages, and be ready for your close up in the top stories carousel, be sure to update all of your image sizes to these new requirements.  All HEBS Digital clients’ AMP pages will automatically be updated to these new requirements.

2. SEM: Google announces the ability for consumers to mute retargeting ads.

There is a new section in the Ads Settings area of a user’s Google account that lets Google account holders see and control their data and privacy settings, called “Your Reminder Ads.” From the “Your Reminder Ads” section, users will be able to see the companies that are currently remarketing to them through the Google Display Network and opt to mute each company across devices. This new feature is currently rolling out for Google Display Network ads on the web and in applications, and will expand to YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months.

With muting ads from consumers lasting as long as 90 days, what does this mean for hotel marketers trying to reach potential guests throughout the travel planning journey? It is now more important than ever to ensure you are reaching the right audience with a relevant, meaningful message. But most importantly, in the long term, the expansion of this tool will likely lead to more meaningful impressions to a qualified audience and provide more relevancy signals for Google to improve targeting and performance overall.

Some ways you can ensure that your display campaigns are more relevant: include lifestyle imagery with people that reflects your target audience in your display creative, write compelling campaign messaging that closely reflects the content that the potential guest browsed on your website, and take advantage of Google Display Network’s audience targeting strategies.

3. Display: Google Chrome blocking low quality ads has finally arrived.

Last month, we addressed that Google Chrome would begin blocking ads that display non-compliant ad experiences against the standards of the Coalition for Better Ads, and now, the feature is fully live in action. Simply put, the type of display campaigns that will be blocked are ads that make for an obnoxious user experience including video ads that play at full volume, flashing display ads, popups with hard-to-find exit buttons and prestitial ads that block users from seeing content on a page. If you are guilty of any of these intrusive ad formats, it’s time to revisit your display advertising strategy. HEBS Digital ensures that all display ads meet the requirements of the Coalition for Better Ads for the best user experience across the web.

4. Social: Snapchat opens its advertising API to everyone.

A little over a year after officially launching its advertising API, Snapchat’s Marketing API now enables any brand, agency or developer to create its own software to automate the buying and targeting of Snapchat’s Snap Ads. For advertisers, the marketing API removes the need to go through Snapchat’s direct sales team, pay for third-party software or manually place each ad buy using Snapchat’s self-serve ad-buying tool, Ad Manager. At HEBS Digital, we offer our clients easy access to Snap Ads which are branded Snapchat stories that reach the hotel brand’s target audience; Snapchat Geofilters which allow a hotel to feature branded filters at their property’s location; and Snapchat Lenses that engage users with augmented reality experiences.

5. Design: Utilize Micro-interactions throughout the web experience.

You may have already heard a lot of buzz about micro-interactions in digital design, but what exactly are they and why should you use them? Micro-interactions are tiny animations used to communicate with users and help them perform a task or call-to-action on your hotel website. They are a UX best practice, and possibly one of the biggest UX trends to date.

Paying attention to the details can really take a design to the next level with micro-interactions calling attention to your most important content throughout the user experience such as destination content, upcoming events, things to do, room types, and even the booking experience. 

About HEBS Digital

Founded in 2001, the firm is headquartered in New York City and has global offices in Las Vegas and Auckland. Through its Smart Guest Acquisition Suite, including the smartCMS®, Smart Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-service digital consulting and marketing solutions, HEBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically boost direct bookings, lower distribution costs, and increase the lifetime value of guests.

Part of NextGuest Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, the most comprehensive Hotel CRM Suite today, are the creators of the hospitality industry’s first Fully-Integrated Guest Engagement & Acquisition Platform.

A diverse client portfolio of top-tier luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants, DMO and tourist offices across the globe are all benefiting from HEBS Digital’s direct online channel strategy and digital marketing expertise.

HEBS Digital’s technology, website design and digital marketing services have won more than 500 prestigious industry awards, including World Travel Awards, HSMAI Adrian Awards, Stevie Awards (American Business Awards), Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards, and more.

The HEBS Digital team is comprised of thought leaders, a diverse team of experts comprised of over 33 nationalities speaking over 22 languages. Contact HEBS Digital’s consultants at 1 (800) 649-5076 (North America), +64 (0) 9 889 8489 (Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific) or success@hebsdigital.com.

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Contact: Garrick Lee

garrick@hebsdigital.com / (212) 752-9425

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