Skift Take

Short-term rentals could be the next frontier for sponsored listings. Hotels are difficult enough, but vacation rentals may be even more complex to get right.

Sponsored listings on and are a “significant” portion of Expedia Group’s advertising business, and the company is considering ways to launch them for the first time on its vacation rental platform Vrbo, as well.

The lack of sponsored listings on Vrbo “is one of the big things I’d like to change,” said Rob Torres, senior vice president media & affiliate solutions at Expedia Group.

Torres made clear that Vrbo isn’t at the testing stage yet for sponsored listings, but he said they are “working on that as a product and a feature.”

Torres, who worked at Expedia from 1999 to 2006, returned to the company in 2022 after 16 years with Google. He now oversees advertising on the various Expedia Group brands, including Vrbo.

Torres said individual property owners and large property management companies have expressed interest in sponsored listing for short-term rentals on Vrbo. “It’s on our side to figure that out in my team and I am pushing them,” he said. “We’re smart enough, we have technology, we innovated, we have to figure it out.”

After the interview Monday, an Expedia spokesperson said the idea of launching TravelAds on Vrbo “is something Expedia Group is looking at. It isn’t in progress yet and is still in a nascent discovery phase only.”

TravelAds and Flight Sponsored Listings

Expedia Group currently lets hotels buy TravelAds and airlines purchase Flight Sponsored Listings, both of which enable them to boost the visibility of their listings for a cost per click on and

A TravelAd, or sponsored listing, placed by the Mercure Biarritz Centre Plaza Hotel in Biarritz, France on Source: Expedia

Torres said there have been a number of recent changes to Expedia’s sponsored ads, which have been in existence for around two decades.

What’s Changed

For example, Expedia recently launched automated bidding for these ad placements. The auction used to be solely a manual process and parts of it still are, Torres said. But now it is more automated and Expedia can inform the advertiser when its budget is running low, or how its sponsored listing is faring against the competition, he added.

Expedia already runs a limited amount of vacation rental sponsored listings on Expedia and, but not on Vrbo.

What’s changed for Vrbo is that it recently transitioned to a common backend tech platform with Expedia and Torres said that enables Expedia Group to make available some of these sponsored ad features to Vrbo, but it’s complex because unlike a hotel room, a vacation rental property can have unique features and they generally don’t have the guest capacity that hotels have.

Expedia Claims an Advantage

Asked about any differentiation between Expedia’s sponsored listings and that of the competition, Torres claimed that Expedia has more in-depth targeting capabilities, and has an advantage over Google, which doesn’t process many bookings.

“We have the full funnel,” Torres said. “We offer top of the funnel and bottom of the funnel so we know if somebody’s actually converted, based on one of our sites versus of Google or someone. We can run that or incorporate that information into our data and insights so that we can actually make better decisions on who we’re targeting these ads.”

Expedia touted its sponsored ads as a way for hotels to take advantage of big events such as Wimbledon last year where hotels using TravelAds in the Wimbledon area saw an average 30% revenue boost. Phoenix hotels generated a 15% boost over Super Bowl weekend, and when Taylor Swift played Nashville, TravelAds users saw a 5% revenue and booking boost, Expedia said.

It’s about a 50-50 split between independent hotels and big brands that are using TravelAds, Torres said.

Missed Opportunity for Airbnb?

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky stirred up interest in sponsored listings for short-term rentals a year ago when he floated the idea of debuting them on Airbnb. Skift Research estimated at the time that if Airbnb had launched an ad platform in 2024 — it still doesn’t have one — then it could have generated $1.2 billion in additional revenue annually by 2026.

Airbnb officials subsequently said sponsored listings were not a priority because Airbnb chose to focus on its core business.

Torres wouldn’t comment on whether Airbnb was missing an opportunity by not pursuing sponsored listings.

“I can’t really speak about them in terms of that,” Torres said, referring to Airbnb. “But, I just think overall, we think it’s a very great business.”

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Tags: advertising, airbnb, dwell, expedia, expedia group, google,, online travel, online travel newsletter, rob torres, sponsored listings, vacation rentals, vrbo

Photo credit: Expedia says hotels in the Wimbledon area that used Expedia sponsored listings saw a surge in revenue. Source: Paige Lorenze/Wikimedia Commons

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