Rob Torres: It All Comes Down to Text Ads

Rob Torres is a man who easily wears a smile. As head of Google’s travel advertising sector, he handles the lion’s share of the world’s search marketing funds and yet to him it’s still simply text ads, not algorithms and gobbletigook.

We spoke about the business and his background at Expedia and other travel sites. “When I worked there there was a strict rule, no links to anywhere else. I kept asking about it, but was told no.” Today Expedia is earning close to $250 million a year by selling text ads, and is Google’s closest rival in this space. It just goes to show, you can put text ads on any website and it doesn’t weaken your overall ability to sell your core products, he said.

Torres sees great potential despite the incredible saturation of Google text ads on almost every site out there. Airline websites, for example, offer a great big wide open space to place text ads. Many other large travel sites are so far devoid of text ads…that may change.

I asked him about iphones and the idea that this is the next big frontier for Google ads. “It’s still a tiny piece but it does have a lot of growth potential,” he said.

What about Craig’s List? How come they don’t run any Google ads? He said he had his own CL story, and it was a bummer. He and his family tried to rent a Hawaii vacation home that turned out to be a total fraud. They paid by Paypal and had a contract…but it turned out that the house wasn’t actually for rent, and they had been ripped off by a CL listing.

I asked him what the biggest advertisers spent on Google per month. “There are a bunch who spend more than $1 million, he said. “And there are millions of advertisers, from all over the world.”