The report - The State of Branded Keywords in Paid Search - Q4 2014 from US company BrandVerity - monitored keywords for the 25 biggest hotel brands in the US during the latter part of the year and found that in many cases they fail to come top of online searches due to trademark bidders, largely made up of OTAs.
When it comes to making trademark bids, OTAs are more likely to use search engines AOL, Bing, and Yahoo, the report found, with the practice 'almost entirely' disappearing from Google and Google Mobile, leading to warnings for better monitoring on other platforms.
"Hotel brands have done a good job of monitoring their brands on Google, but now they need to do the same on other search engines while also continuing to nuance their contracts with OTAs," said BrandVerity's Sam Engel.
The top 10 advertisers using the largest number of branded hotel keywords (in the US) were hotelreservations.com, hotelroom.com, hotelsavings.com, priceline.com, roomstays.com, orbitz.com, onetime.com, local.com, hotelsbycity.com and offers.com.
Interestingly, said BrandVerity, Expedia and Travelocity had not appeared in the top 10 list. The two companies, which officially merged in January, together with Priceline and Orbitz, are considered the top four national OTAs in the US.
"Their mutual exclusion from this group of advertisers aggressively using trademarks in their ad copy suggests that their policies and agreements with hotel brands may well be different than Priceline and Orbitz’s." said the report.
As with previous BrandVerity reports, only keywords associated with the brands, including misspellings and a domain name were searched for this study.
Engel said OTA activity increased on all search engines, including Google when longer tail keywords were monitored. For example, using Marriott New York, as well as Marriott or Marriott.com.
“There are certainly a tonne of other searches where people would include the brand name alongside other words in their search, and with these they would most likely see considerably more OTA ads," said Engel previously. "Those searches certainly outweigh the brand name-only searches, by far."