The EU’s Ruling on Data Transfers- Updates to Google Ads Terms

Why Did Google Ads Send Me An Email Re: Updates about GDPR Compliance?

In July 2020, the EU’s highest court ruled against the validity of the Data Privacy Shield for protecting EU citizen data when it is transferred out of the EU to other countries including the US. This caused many businesses, including Google and other ad tech companies, to have to revise their platforms’ data processing terms.

What Did the EU Rule on Data Transfers to the US in July 2020?

In July 2020 the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest court in the EU, ruled that the current Privacy Shield that allowed transfers of online advertising and measurement personal data out of the EU to the US was invalid. This was based on the court finding that EU citizen data could be interfered with by the US government based on the country’s current surveillance laws.’s Natasha Lomas explains that, The CJEU’s finding is that “the requirements of US national security, public interest and law enforcement have primacy, thus condoning interference with the fundamental rights of persons whose data are transferred to that third country”, and that mechanisms in the EU-US Privacy Shield ostensibly intended to mitigate this interference (such as an ombudsperson role to handle EU citizens’ complaints) are not up the required legal standard of ‘essential equivalence’ with EU law.

The Court of Justice of the European Union did keep Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) in place as a valid and legal way for businesses including banks, Facebook, and Google to transfer online advertising and measurement personal data out of the EU and into the US. This effectively provides these companies with a way to maintain data transfers outside of the EU and into the US (and other countries) for the time being.

How Does The EU Ruling on Data Transfers Impact My Google Ads Account?

Since SCC’s are still considered an allowed method of transferring data from the EU to servers in the US, Google is moving to use them for all transfers of online advertising and measurement personal data out of the EU, Switzerland and the UK in order to stay in compliance with the ruling.

Google is also updating its existing Google Ads Data Processing Terms, Google Ads Controller-Controller Data Protection Terms, and Google Measurement Controller-Controller Data Protection Terms to add the relevant SCCs as adopted by the European Commission. These updated contract terms for using Google Ads will apply starting on August 12, 2020.

How Can I Make Sure My Google Ads Account Is Still In Compliance with GDPR?

First off, we are not legal experts and you should be consulting your lawyer regarding how to keep your business in compliance with GDPR and other consumer data privacy protection laws. 

  1. Google’s updated contract terms that add the relevant SCCs ensure your agreement with their ad platform keeps the account in compliance with the updated ruling. 
  2. Make sure you have a cookie preference solution in place (such as OneTrust) on your site. Make sure settings are specific for traffic from visitors from the EU countries, allowing them to control how their personal data is used across the site and ad platforms. 
  3. We also recommend that you have detailed information regarding your business’ privacy policies that can be found on the privacy policy page on your website. 

The court’s standing on SCC’s and how EU citizens’ data is transferred out of the EU could come under further scrutiny, which could further complicate things for banks, ad tech companies, and other businesses. 

Have further questions about the recent EU ruling on data transfers and how it affects your Google Ads account? Please make sure to consult your lawyer and be sure to reach out to GCommerce to help you implement cookie compliance tools on your website.

We Increased ROAS 123% For Our Hotel Clients’ Google Ads, Here’s How

At the end of 2018, Google turned the SEM industry on its head by once again changing the definition of its exact match keyword targeting. The definitions and performance by match type have historically dictated campaign structure for many across the SEM industry, GCommerce included. Google’s 3rd and most recent change to exact match forced paid search marketers to reexamine their account structures and best practices. When we did, we found an incredible opportunity to reinvent our paid search account structure to drive substantial improvements in performance for our clients. Read below to find out how we did it.

A Quick History of Google’s Keyword Match Type Definitions

To set the stage, let’s take a quick look back over the evolution of Google’s exact match keyword targeting definitions.

Pre-2014: Exact Match means the searcher has to type your keyword in exactly as you have it written in order for the search to trigger your ad.

Search = luxury hotel in park city Keyword = luxury hotel in park city

2014: Google updates its exact match keyword definition to allow your ad to trigger for the exact spelling of your keyword PLUS plurals and misspellings 

Search = luxury hotels in park city Keyword  = luxury hotel in park city

2017: Google updates its exact match keyword definition again to trigger your ad for the exact phrase or misspellings and plurals OR different word order and function words

Here are two great tables from Search Engine Land’s article to help explain:

Function words:

Word Order:

What Do These Changes Mean For My Hotel’s Google Ads Account Structure? 

But, what does this all mean for paid search optimization and account structure? Separating campaigns by match type used to mean we had more control of where to funnel our ad dollars based on what keywords and match types were performing the best. We found that with Google’s latest updates to match type definitions, if we had the same keyword with a different match type located in different ad groups within the account, they would now compete with each other. The theory became, if we restructured our accounts to keep all keywords (of all match types) within the same ad group, we should see lower CPCs which in turn would drive more traffic, more conversions, and higher ROAS. We tested the theory across a sampling of our hotel client Google Ads accounts.

Results of Our Hotels’ Google Ads Restructure Tests Based On Match Types

Let’s dive into the test results. On average this is what resulted from the changes we made in account structure based on the new keyword match type definitions:

  • CPCs declined by 30%
  • ROAS increased by 123%

This meant our paid search campaigns were able to drive 80% more revenue on average for our hotel clients across the sample set of test accounts. After reviewing the results, we rolled out the change across all of our hotel Google Ads accounts and continued to see outstanding results across the board.

It’s important to always keep an eye out for announcements from Google Ads and make sure you’re testing, restructuring, and updating your accounts based on what provides the best results. If your agency isn’t constantly evolving your campaigns based on changes within the platform and your industry then you risk wasting budget and sacrificing performance. Have questions about how we can help your hotel launch or test this new account structure? Please reach out to one of our hotel digital marketing experts today.

5 Phases to Relaunch Your Hotel's Marketing Campaigns During COVID-19

The world is slowly opening up again, and as hoteliers and other players in the hospitality game that means it’s time to welcome guests back with open, yet socially distant, arms. Similar to phased reopening plans throughout the country, your hotel’s marketing efforts should take the same approach. By phasing out your hotel marketing targeting you’ll be able to provide the most value for your property in this current market for less (we know many will still be operating with smaller budgets at this time). Below we’ll outline a great phased approach that can be curated to fit any property’s strategy amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

PHASE 1: Focus efforts on your hotel’s current and upcoming guests

 If your property isn’t ready to resume marketing efforts and outreach quite yet, then the most basic approach should be to focus on the guests you have. People are still traveling, even to the most restrictive areas, and your top priority should be to make their stay at your hotel as safe and comfortable as possible. This could include imposing smaller capacity caps, ensuring social distancing between guests, using stricter and more frequent cleaning guidelines, and more.

Focusing on your current hotel guests presents the opportunity for providing a much more intimate and personalized experience. Fewer guests mean you can get to know them by name, provide upgrades and other premium amenities, and showcase the service of your hotel in new ways. This focus on guest experience can turn into positive reviews and chatter throughout the web, which has a great impact on your hotel’s reputation, website traffic, and conversion rates.

PHASE 2: Initiate your hotel’s marketing with loyal and previous guests

When you are ready to begin your hotel’s marketing efforts again, we recommend starting small, especially if your hotel is located in a very restrictive area. Your audience should be focused primarily on loyal guests like pass holders and loyalty program members first and then broadening to previous guests or families that return year after year. One of the best ways to engage with this audience is through email marketing because you already have these guests’ contact information and you can draw them in with a more personalized approach.

PHASE 3: Engage with your hotel’s local audiences  

Once you’ve taken care of the loyal users, it’s time to move on to your hotel’s local drive market audiences. Whether this is within city limits or up to a day’s drive away, your local market will be the first to return to your property through serious marketing efforts. This is when you really want to make sure your Facebook, display and paid search efforts are ramping up to draw that awareness and highlight the benefits of a staycation or long weekend out of the house.

PHASE 4: Draw in regional guests for your hotel

As we start seeing the United States and other parts of the world opening up more safely we’ll also start seeing people traveling further distances. This goes beyond day trips and weekends and dips more into longer stays. These guests will be driving to your hotel from places that are over six hours away or even taking short flights in. 

Some properties are already seeing an influx of regional guests, especially those located in larger metro areas, while some are barely getting local visitors. It’s important to pay attention to your state or city’s reopening guidelines and phases to determine which audiences are worth targeting at any given time.

PHASE 5: Return to normal by reaching your hotel’s destination audiences

Eventually, things will go back to normal and travel will continue as it had before COVID-19 hit. This fifth and final phase includes all guests and normal operations, meaning you can return to targeting your new top-of-funnel audiences and guests that live out of your property’s region. 

While this phased approach is simply a guided recommendation, it’s still important for any property or business to evaluate their current standings and plan out their future marketing efforts. Eventually, this will be all over and we will return again to a saturated marketing landscape, but until then you can lean on GCommerce to create a strategy for your hotel’s marketing efforts during COVID-19.

Our hotel digital marketing experts are standing by to help you craft a custom digital marketing relaunch strategy for your hotel. Contact us today.

Improve Ad Quality Score And Save Time & Money Through Google Ads Scripts

Google Ads Scripts may sound like a foreign language to some, scare others, and cause others to feel uncomfortable but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing to fear! Google Ad scripts are useful tools that can be used for every industry from hotel digital marketing to ma and pop shops doing their own PPC. These scripts automate tedious processes and tasks that sometimes take an unreasonable amount of time. This automation allows search specialists to focus on what’s most important and ultimately saves time and money for our clients.

What are Google Ads Scripts?

Google Ads Scripts are JavaScript based codes that anyone can implement in order to automate certain functions within Google Ads. These functions can include:

  • Sending keyword performance reports on a regular basis to a given email
  • Pausing underperforming ads based on set qualifiers. This report can then be automated to send to any given email containing the ads that were paused
  • Finding errors that could cause your ads to underperform, become disapproved, lead to a 404, and more. You can then set it to notify you if it happens to find something wrong
  • There are other scripts that can perform a multitude of tasks

These scripts help search specialists to work faster and more efficiently as well as improve their quality of work because they can always have eyes (a script) on things that they can’t always check due to time constraints.

Google Ads

Scripts increase efficiency, but how?

  • Automated reports: normally, a search specialist must go into Google Ads in order to pull reports that help them to identify how a given property is doing. In fact, they probably have to go through multiple tabs to get a good picture of what is happening with the account. This can take a lot of time. By setting up a script, they can receive automated reports which provide all of the information necessary, all in one spot. This saves time for search specialists because they don’t have to set up the reports, download them or make other modifications
  • Automated report delivery: search specialists can automatically send these reports to clients thus saving them time because they don’t have to manually send the reports
  • Ease of comparison: order is kept consistent since all of the metrics are the same on each report. This allows you to compare past data with ease. It also makes it easy to look at because they are standardized reports which you will get used to over time
  • Automated tasks and processes: as mentioned before, scripts can be used to automate a multitude of processes and tasks. These could include anything from error scanning your ads to pausing underperforming ads. This increases efficiency because the search specialist doesn’t have to make those changes manually but still gets notified of any changes that take place just in case they need to review them

Why should you be using scripts?

By using scripts, search specialists are able to spend less time setting up reports, checking for broken ads, pausing underperforming ads and more meaning that they are able to work more on what is most important. This ultimately saves you money and increases the quality of your ads thus helping you to drive more reservations and more revenue. Our team of search specialists are constantly looking for new scripts to increase productivity, save time and ensure budget is being spent efficiently.

Looking for more information on scripts? Here are some of our favorite resources:

Reach out to our team for more information!

Increase Revenue Contribution from Google Ads with Qualified Audiences for Remarketing

Many people around the Boston area have spent the last few months basking in the glory of a World Series Championship that the Red Sox brought home after a hard fought 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here at GCommerce, we’ve been evaluating the results of some experimental paid search campaigns that we ran along with The Lenox Hotel to increase the awareness that the hotel is within walking distance of Fenway Park. Not only is this an incredible boutique hotel in the Back Bay of Boston, it’s also the best hotel to stay at if you’re in town for a Red Sox Game.

It was our job at GCommerce job to come up with a strategy that would most efficiently target their intended audience. The Lenox Hotel had pages on their site dedicated to content around Red Sox Game’s and the close proximity to Fenway Park. We decided to use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads in order to best reach our target audience.

For those not familiar with Remarketing, do you ever look at a product or service online, and then it seems like ads for that product or service follow you around forever? That is Remarketing.

The basic idea is that someone will come to your website, you drop a pixel on their browser that then feeds that individual ads about the page that they looked at. While this is a great tool for marketers to capture users, it generally misses out on 2 main topics

  1. Just because someone came to your site, how do we know what type of content they are looking for?
  2. Just because they visited a certain page, how do we know they didn’t “accidentally” click to get to your page or site?

Both of these things kind of go together. Have you ever accidentally clicked on an ad or link? Just because someone ends up on a page of our site, does not mean they intended to be there.

With Google Tag Manager, we can put qualifications around our audiences to help eliminate those that came to our site without the intent of reading content. The way we do this is with 3 different steps or qualifications for a user to enter our “audience list” that we then serve ads to:

  1. A user must first visit on one of the Red Sox or Fenway Park pages in order to be qualified for this audience list.
  2. Next, the user must scroll at least 25% of the way down the page. If you look at most pages on the Lenox Hotel’s website, they have a very efficient head navigation and absolutely beautiful imagery. With both of those elements in place, we can gather a better idea about intent if we can measure someone’s scroll depth while also eliminating those that “accidentally” ended up on the page.
scroll depth
  1. Next, the user also had to look at booking dates between June and Sep 30th (we later extended the date range as the Red Sox made their way through the playoffs).
Audience screenshot
  1. Finally, if a user was qualified in all of these areas, they were also eliminated from the list if they ever hit the “confirmation” page to signal a booking was completed.

Last year, we ran a very similar campaign effort, however, our Remarketing Audience List only consisted of people coming to the Lenox Hotel’s website, and it did not include these further qualifications. Luckily, this gives us a really good baseline to compare it to.

So how did this these qualified audience paid search campaigns perform in comparison to last year’s remarketing campaigns?**

Our remarketing lists for paid search ads in 2018 brought in 178% more Transactions as measured through the attribution on Search Ads 360 (12.5 vs 4.5):

transaction screenshot

This advanced remarketing list for search campaign was a great test and discovery for us here at GCommerce. We plan to take use this data for future success in remarketing campaigns for The Lenox Hotel and our other Paid Search clients.

Contact us today to discuss how Remarketing Lists for Search Ads can help your hotel!

**Full disclosure, the Red Sox were eliminated from the 2017 AL Division Series against Houston and their final home game was October 9, 2017. In the 2018 season, their final game at Fenway was October 24th, so there were an extra 15 days that the campaign ran in 2018 vs 2017.