Paid search prevails in car hire battle

Paid search campaigns became the focus of attention for many car hire suppliers and aggregators in July in what has become a fiercely competitive sector.

A focus on longer tail car hire search terms saw gain the largest share of voice for Google natural searches in the sector in July, the latest Greenlight analysis has found.

Although the online retailer ranked in just eighth place for the most popular generic search term “car hire”, it ranked first for 119 keywords, including geographic-based searches like ‘car hire Malaga’.

The car hire sector has been hit harder than most by the recession with fleet sizes reduced to the lack of availability of vehicles from manufacturers.

Taking both natural and paid search into account Travelsupermarket retained its overall top spot ahead of which fared relatively less well in natural search (14th place).

The Greenlight study found there was 1.9 million car hire related searches in July, a 40% increase since April, when the total was 1.4 million.

For natural searches Travelsupermarket achieved 48% of voice, a 16% increase since Greenlight’s last report on the sector, moving it up from third in the overall rankings.

The previous number one dropped to second ahead of which saw a 13% decrease in its share of voice, falling from position one to nine for the term ‘car hire’.

Greenlight said this indicated “fierce online marketing competition within the car hire industry for the high volume driving terms.”

A breakdown of the figures showed outperformed rivals for non-destination and brand specific generic term searches which were dominated by ‘car hire’ and ‘car rental’ (63% of generic searches).

Europcar ranked at number one for seven terms including the two most popular in contract to Easycar that lost 30% visibility since April.

In worldwide keyword searches, which scooped a Travolution award on Tuesday night,  increased its share by 6% moving it from 11th to seventh position.

In paid search Carhire3000 was the most visible site with 77% share of voice ahead of and

Greenlight said this was down to Carhire3000 bidding at a lower average ad position on Google while second place Auto-europe increased its share of voice by 20%, despite bidding on fewer keywords.

Greenlight concluded: “On the whole, the top car hire brands achieved greater visibility in the paid search space than in natural search, suggesting that many brands utilised targeted paid search strategies in order to ‘buy’ their way to visibility in the market.”

The Greenlight July car hire report can be downloaded now. Click here.

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