3 Fundamental Practices of Metasearch Management

Fundamentals of Metasearch Management

We all know the power of 101 – fundamental knowledge. In practice, what is fundamental leads to advanced applications and continuous pursuit of improvement. Today we wanted to share some fundamental practices of metasearch campaign management that we have always found helpful.

Inventory Audit

When it comes to updating the inventory feed on different metasearch publishers, it requires direct, transparent communication between Koddi, clients, and the publisher.

  • Best Case Scenario
    In an ideal world, a client would automatically distribute the latest inventory feed, send it to all publishers for processing and to Koddi for setting up default bids. Normally within a week or so, the latest inventory feed is live, and we should be able to see the new hotels with default bids.
  • Challenges
    Challenges may occur when the latest inventory list we have on file does not align with what clients have sent to publishers or with what the publisher has recently processed, which may result in missing opportunities to bid on new hotels, or in bidding on hotels that should have been turned off.
  • Solutions
    To avoid the above unfavorable outcomes, we audit our inventory lists on a regular basis, depending on how frequent the clients update their inventory, to ensure that our hotel information 100% matches with the inventory list across publishers. In addition, as publishers usually do not require the whole inventory list from clients if they are only updating few hotels at a time, it’s worth going through the effort of automating this process to make sure that no small changes are missed.

Competitive Rates

With the prevalence of “best price wins” ranking modules across publishers, a hotel with the best rate is usually placed at the top position. The exception to this case is when the advertiser with the lowest price does not have a competitive bid.

  • Best Case Scenario
    When clients offer the best rate for a property, they are more likely than competitors to earn the top position on each of the metasearch publishers. On some publishers, this position receives as much as 90% of traffic for the hotel, and can even lead to special or differentiated placements.
  • Challenges
    Lack of competitive rates may negatively affect CTR, volume potential, and creates volatility in the campaign. Here’s a real life example: we noticed click/booking volume of a top performing hotel from an advertiser started dipping even though we attempted to increase bids to boost visibility and ranking. We then noticed that this hotel had a much higher rate than what it used to have, explaining the drop in performance. This happens thousands of times per day across large portfolios.
  • Solutions
    Always make sure you know where your client stands in the market in terms of rates. Are they suppliers who offer best price guarantees? Are they large OTAs who provide very competitive rates? Are they small OTAs who generally have higher rates but offer big off-season discounts? By proactively searching your client’s ads on the publishers as well as keeping in the loop on seasonal promotions and sales from the client’s side, you can take the burden of dealing with fluctuating rates off your shoulder.

Length of Stay (LOS) Analysis

The majority of searches through metasearch are for 1-2 nights, indicating that having an inventory with shorter lengths of stay leverages visibility and volume, even when this is counterintuitive. Many resorts will decide not to list itineraries for shorter lengths of stay and miss out on significant traffic from users that would ultimately book longer stays.

  • Best Case Scenario
    When clients have a comprehensive itinerary converge which provides rates for short to long LOS, the campaign can be less volatile and easier to manage. Since many searches are for 1-2 nights, sometimes you will notice that the longer LOS you search on each publisher, the fewer competitors you have, implying that the competition becomes smaller in this case.
  • Challenges
    As LOS is not a bidding option on all publishers, challenges mostly occur when hotels are missing rates for 1-2 nights, resulting in low traffic and volatility in campaigns. The reverse can also be true, where advertisers have limited coverages for longer stays due to infrastructure issues, which can cause them to miss out on larger bookings.
  • Solutions
    Client communication is the key here; during initial integration with publishers, make sure your clients, are fully aware of the impact of missing rates for shorter LOS, and are able to provide an inventory that best fit in for each publisher’s user and traffic base. In addition, keep a close eye on the LOS coverage of your top performers. When you notice a sudden drop in traffic with no major bid changes, there might be a LOS issue that worth looking into.

While those are just a few of the many things that a successful campaign requires, we find that these three areas are the most likely to have an impact on performance. In a complex campaign with new launches, growth, tests, and promotions, it can be easy to lose sight of these fundamentals. With just a little attention, improvements here can help raise volumes and performance and amplify optimization already being done on the campaign.