One-on-one with Rob Torres, head of Google Travel
Appearing alongside Suzie Reider, chief marketing officer and head of advertising for sister company YouTube, Torres stressed there are no plans for Google to do a “Troogle” – a bookings site for travel.[Editor: not directly]
The Next Big Idea for Google to share, however, is video and the travel category.
Torres’s big pitch was to get the industry to think about Google – and YouTube in particular- as a place to build a brand.
“Stop thinking about internet demand as just for capture and start thinking about a driver of brand awareness,” Torres says.
Here is full transcript of what followed:
Q: In your speech you said “stop thinking about internet demand capture and about a driver of brand awareness”. Tell me more about the process of moving from direct response to brand building in search marketing?
I think there are huge opportunities for branding in search. Our biggest partners are already spending significantly in building brands. We all do.
Search and video are new channels that really work well for brand advertising. The challenge is how to do measurement.
If you look for just direct response and compare video to search then it will not perform.
But we hear this is from partners that are still advertising on TV and who take out radio ads. Some (like DMOs) still do lots of print advertising.
The CPM rates on online video are much cheaper than these media and have the potential to capture a greater viewership.
Q: You mentioned in your presentation that 13% of online travellers have uploaded a video. That is a lot of videos and engagement. But how does a marketer track the success of engaging with that. Is it just a matter of bringing across ratings and viewer numbers like TV?
Ultimately want people to view the video but impression of the ad is not bad either [as a measure of success].
YouTube has 40 million impressions per day.
Marketers should start comparing video on YuoTube with TV advertising and put it in the marketing mix.
Generally speaking, TV advertising is ego advertising [meaning not very measurable].
Q: In the offline TV advertising world there is an eco-system to help with publishing video – agencies for creative and media buyers for placement. Do you anticipate that this agency system will emerge for online video?
We have great relationships with agencies already. Often it is a disconnect between clients and agencies that are sometimes causing a problem.
The agencies do not yet understand the value of online video. We’ll get there.
Q: In an earlier session on trip planning, Laura Castillo of Google discussed the increase in the number of words being used in each search from less than two to almost three. We also discussed the incorporation of social media (ie Twitter) directly into the search results. Finally consumers are asking open ended questions like “where should I go next” that are not easily answered by the information on one site. Information is needed from multiple sites to answer. What does this mean for the future of search?
Search is going to get better and better. Multi–answer [answers from more than one place] is part of the reason for the incorporation of social media into the results.
On longer queries in search terms, the more terms in a search, the more relevant the result that Google can provide.
It is not well known but in September we increased size of search box because we saw an inclination for more words and what to encourage that.
If we can serve more relevant result then we can meet the aim of getting the consumer off Google as fast as possible[Referring to search start ups such as Goby and Triporati that are doing travel search in a different way] We encourage competition – helps us to see what is missing in search industry.
We agree that natural search does not do a great job in delivery all results.
We hope these start ups are successful but are not worried about the impact on our business.
It does spur me to think how do we improve what we are doing.[Referring to Bing] Bing is not taking away share from us. Some of the things they are doing are great and opens up eyes to different ways to search but not losing share.
Q: Introducing social media content into search results will likely change the way Google assess relevance and the quality score in search results. The old test for quality was around contents and inbound links. Giving quality scores for Facebook updates or tweets will require something different. What do you think?
We have smart people working on this. Will require a new way of measuring quality.
Q: At the beginning of the year I wrote a post saying that this would not be the year for mobile. I based this on the economic challenges driving companies to focus on the core business rather than new channels. Then a few weeks ago Google announced the AdMob deal, your third largest acquisition ever. A company focused on mobile advertising. This seemed to prove me wrong. What do you think about mobile – is 2009 finally the year for mobile in online travel?
You were not wrong about 2009 for mobile in travel as there is very little adoption still, especially in advertising.
Buying Admob will give us the infrastructure we need for mobile based advertising.
That said, we have seen “apps” become such a big word in 2009. The rapid spread of apps all happened this year.
We are in that space with the Android platform. I was very interested to hear from the TripIt team that it was ten times easy to develop for Android than the iPhone.
I think 2010 will be year we start see suppliers advertising on and getting good returns form on mobile.
For 2010 we are very bullish on the mobile space.
Tim Hughes is an online travel industry executive who has been blogging since June 2006 at the Business of Online Travel (the BOOT).
The BOOT covers analysis of online travel industry trends, consumer and company behaviour and broader online/web activity of interest to online travel companies (with a bias towards Tim’s home markets of Asia and Australasia and with the odd post on consuming and loving travel thrown in).
In late-2010 the BOOT clocked its 1,000th post, 200,000th visitor and 300,000th page view.In his work life he is the CEO of Getaway Lounge - a premium travel deal site based in Australia.
Tim has worked for both Orbtitz and Expedia. Prior to the travel industry Tim was a commercial lawyer and venture capitalist. Tim’s views are his alone and not necessarily the views of Getaway Lounge or any of its investors.