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Today after I updated my listing I went to preview my properties as a guest would see them and, to my shock:
--> there were advertisments at the top of my listing <--
-- There was an ad for weight watchers
-- There was an ad for BMO Mastercard
-- There was an ad for Ramada Inn (for a competitor!)
-- The ad rotates with every page load, some even have distracting animations
To make matters worse, the ads appear "above the fold". For those of you who know what I mean, you will understand my concern. For those of you who do not recognize the term, it refers to the area of a web site that can be seen on a viewer's web browser without scrolling. This is the very most valuable space on any web site -- and it is being taken up by advertising that I did not approve.
How can I know that the ads shown on my listing are in alignment with my moral compass and my business compass? I have no control over these ads that might be offensive to my potential guests and that directly reflect on me since they are represented on my listing.
If HomeAway is using my listing to display advertising, then I expect to be compensated on a per-view / per-click basis for any advertising traffic that is generated on the ad that I spent my time to author. The ads are distracting from my listing and, as mentioned above, are stealing the very most valuable space on the page.
Have other owners noticed this?
Are there like-minded concerns out there?
What can we do about this?
I am shocked, befuddled, annoyed and motivated to get this to stop. Any ideas?
I’m sorry to hear you feel this way. Each page on HomeAway.com is made up of a template with a header and footer. The space you’ve purchased for your listing is in the middle of this template.
Your listing fees help pay for a robust marketing budget so that we can rank among the top search results on Google and Yahoo! for “vacation rentals” and similar terms. The advertising on the site helps us fund vital search engine optimization and marketing efforts that bring even more traffic to the site and your listing.
I hope this information is of some use.
I completely agree. The fees for listing with VRBO are much higher than vacationrentals.com, but I feel I must list both places. But even after paying such a high fee, the ads are innapropriate. This should be an ad-free site. Please reconsider this policy. And what type of ads will appear? NRA ads? Political ads? How about bogus diet programs and drugs? How does this reflect upon VRBO and its listings? The only reason I can see for the owners to add in this advertising is for them to get more money for themselves. I'll stay for the year I've signed up, but after that I'm out of here.
First of all, thank you for your reply. I do appreciate the time and effort that you spent to consider this and provide a response.
You mention that my listing fee ($329 -- which is about 5% of my annual net at my small one-bedroom condo), goes toward marketing and Google & Yahoo rankings.
You mention that the advertising on the site helps fund vital SEO and marketing.
For the benefit of everyone, here is Wikipedia's definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
"Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving
the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the
'natural' or un-paid ('organic' or 'algorithmic') search results."
SEO is a part of good web design & development and does require constant attention -- but it is a given for any web site and good web developers will do this as a matter of course. Marketing is part of any good business plan and bidding on keywords in Google is a costly affair, I know from personal experience.
Having said this -- my $329 should cover all of this. I can not stress enough that the _only_ thing that I'm paying VRBO and HomeAway for is SEO and Marketing. Other sites exist for free that do property listings as good as, or better, than VRBO/HA. SEO and Marketing is, in my opinion, the only true value-add that HomeAway offers owners and one that is worth paying for while the competition builds businesses that can compete with the momentum HA acquired (literally acquired -- by buying up the existing competition).
Property managers, on the other hand, may see more benefits. There is quite a bit of functionality on VRBO/HA that I do not need (but that I can not opt out of and, consequently, must subsidize for those that do).
I absolutely do not buy the assertion that advertising on the site is in any way, shape or form is required to fund SEO or marketing efforts. When the ads appeared on HA/VRBO, I certainly didn't see my listing fee go down. I also did not see the performance of my listing go up either.
Perhaps if HomeAway spent more effort with smart Marketing to the end customers worldwide and less time with costly U.S.-centric, one-offs like the Superbowl advertising, then this need for additional, offensive advertising at the top of my property listing would not be necessary.
It certainly is unconscionable that HA and VRBO are putting ads at the top of our listings and pushing owners' vital listing information below-the-fold. You are devaluing my listing with the HA/VRBO "template". This devaluation was done without my agreement or consent and after I paid my $329 in good faith.
I think that the ads cheapen the HA/VRBO site, distract from my listing and are a poor policy overall. If you can not run the SEO and Marketing campaigns with the $329 that I'm paying times the 500,000 listings that are reputed to be on VRBO/HA (That's $165 million/year, folks) then someone at head office needs to seriously look into cost inefficiencies.
Again, Travis, I appreciate your time and answer but -- I'm sorry -- the answer smacks of "towing the company line" and seems disingenuous to me.
I suppose it's possible that I agreed somewhere in the pages-and-pages of legalese that HA could sandwich my listing between ads. If so, I would appreciate if you would point out to me where this is stated in the terms. If not, I again request that you opt my listing out of the ads. I do not approve of them on my listing.
I think HA/VRBO simply hoped that we owners wouldn't notice. I did -- and I hope others will take the time to speak up too.
P.S. If maximizing revenue from ads is required by HA and if you believe them to be acceptable then why are there no ads on the HomeAway or VRBO home pages? While I'm glad they aren't there (as I said, it cheapens the site and sends potential guests mixed messages), I think HA is being hypocritical in putting them on my listing while not putting them on the home page.
Did they really have an ad for a competitor - Ramada Inn? OUCH! That's a big problem!
Yes, I've seen competitor ads on my listing!
I find this very disturbing -- HA / VRBO official position is that they rent me a space for my ad between a header and a footer that they control the content of.
Although I've asked where in the terms of agreement this is explained (and perhaps it is -- I have not gone back to review the entire thing), they have not provided the information. If this is part of the terms of service -- I resubmit all owners who pay for thier property ads:
-- Owners: are you not as disturbed by this as I am?
Peter, I dont think anyone can argue with such a well laid out post
It seems like a standard thing to do on internet shopping websites but with expensive HomeAway listings I would like to have renters par attention to my property only while on my listing.
And I would like them to find my listing. The whole search engine is outdated no results for Mont Sainte Anne?
My little bootsrapped startup vacation rental search uses google map's location auto-correction and then sorts listing by center of map proximity or other criteria.
>>no results for Mont Sainte Anne
Try: "Mont Ste-Anne" and you'll get the listings you're looking for.
You may want to report this to HA support department -- they do not appear to have set up the proper synonyms in their search engine to equate Saint = Sainte = St = Ste (and common misspellings of each).
Back on topic:
-- Owners: are the advertisments on our listings acceptable?
Just keeping this thread alive.
The ads are still there. I'm still unhappy about it. Hopefully others will also feedback their disappointment to HA/VRBO.
I'm guessing they are going to need that advertising revenue when so many of us beging leaving the sites in droves.
I'm done, and won't be renewing. ( not that HA/VRBO seems to care what we owners think any longer). Heck, for what I pay each year, I can buy time with the local tourism board where my VR is, and not have to compete with all the stuff VRBO's doing these days.
I agree that the ads on our listings are unwelcome and just another way that HA is trying to squeeze the last drop of juice from our orange. I pay $250 a year to be on my local chamber of commerce site and $79 for my 2nd property which is what I pay for 1 listing at VRBO. My website allows me to view stats and I can see where the referring pages are coming from. I get more visits from my local chamber of commerce than I get from VRBO, roughly 55/45 and they don't have ads on my listings... VRBO becoming quite commercialized since HA took over.
Rick, I agree.
I'm thinking the ad HA places evrywhere that says " Make money from your vacation home." should say" "Please help HA make lots of money from your vacation home, and you may even make a few dollars."
I totally agree. It makes the listing look ugly and cheap.
I own a condo in an east coast beach resort town. When I clicked on my listing via puvlic access, there was an ad "above the fold" for a competing town about 150 miles away. The first 2 stesp in getting a rental is to have a prospective tenant look for rentalsin the town where my condo is located & then click on my listing. So, having accomplished this, the first thing a person viewing my listing sees is an ad for a competing town? Get real! I emailed VRBO with my concerns regarding this practice. No response. I'm paying $500 per year for my listing. I don't want VRBO being paid by other advertisers competing with me when someone views my listing.
I understand this practice may reduce the cost of having a listing on VRBO so I would only object a little if it were for a product/service that is not a competitor, such as for a keyless entry system, insurance, etc. But truly, I shouldn't have to compete with VRBO. This rates right up there with VRBO suggeting other rentals when someone clicks on my listing. Bad business practice but SOP for the "new" VRBO.
susaninrehoboth writes>> I understand this practice may reduce the cost of having a listing on VRBO
True, it might; but there is no evidence that it does. VRBO / HA have become much less effective for my property (and reading through these forums it seems that I'm not alone) while prices continue to go up.
I would suggest that the only productive thing that the ads do is to contribute directly to HomeAway Company's bottom line.
I challenge anyone (at HA or otherwise) to provide me with proof, or even a compelling arguement, that this is not the case.