Sorry, We Are Not In Right Now


Thanks for checking out our blog, we really appreciate it.

However, our blog has moved to

Sorry that you have to visit another site to find us, but it is worth it...we have all of our 'classic' posts and comments on the new blog, plus a ton of new thoughts and ideas.

Why are we moving? Basically, Blogger failed us and never responded to our emails and requests. A clear example of poor customer service...too bad, we liked Blogger.

Come over and see us on the new blog.

Troy and Mo

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Microsoft Launches 'Surface'

Microsoft will unveil a coffee-table-shaped "surface computer" on Wednesday in a major step towards co-founder Bill Gates's view of a future where the mouse and keyboard are replaced by more natural interaction using voice, pen and touch.

A Surface computer is able to recognize physical objects from a paintbrush to a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps. Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a dynamic surface that provides interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. >>Full Story

Thoughts// While the initial launch of Microsoft Surface will be aimed at hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues, the possibilities of such a technology in a Visitor Information Center setting could be very intriguing.

Imagine if visitors could sit around this table and download information, maps or photos directly to their phone. Or allow visitors to be able to pull up and manipulate various maps with just the touch of a finger. With a reported starting price of $5,000-$10,000, this type of technology may not be that far away.

Make sure you watch the is pretty amazing stuff. Goes Flat

It launched at the Super Bowl and was heralded by some as the future of advertising in the digital era. But, just five months after the fanfare, has fallen flat. Last week, Anheuser-Busch executives said they would overhaul the project. The story of, a $30 million branded entertainment channel that A-B had hoped would reach young male consumers, is a case study of the promise—and complications—of digital ad initiatives. At heart, the question is whether centralized brand-content hubs are compatible with the YouTube era of instant gratification, particularly if users are required to jump through hoops just to see them. >>Full Story

Thoughts// While not directly related to AOT, the current state of is a very interesting case study into online video, branding and consumer behavior. As the article alludes to, was launched with a huge push via a Super Bowl TV spot and some $30 million dollars.

The content on is really solid, as you would expect from a well known advertiser. However, the lack of social interaction with the content or the heavy-handed control of content (depending on your point of view) appears to have been the downfall of the site. Reading the article, most people would be surprised that did not let you embed clips on your myspace page or download clips to your iPod. Both seem like a simple and some-what standard offering, but in the case of those types of social interaction would cause A-B to loose control of the brand...something they apparently did not want to do.

So the question is how much brand control can you have without sacrificing the social sharing aspect of content?

Travel Channel to Focus on User-Gen Plays

Now that Cox Communications’ acquisition of the Travel Channel has been finalized, the niche network has begun gathering its hiking gear and poring over topographical maps, plotting an excursion that will lead it and its new owner beyond the well-trodden confines of the linear TV space. On May 14, Discovery Communications ceded control over Travel Channel, paying out $1.28 billion in cash for Cox’s 25 percent stake in DCI, while handing over the network’s passport and its related digital media assets. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A brief article that shows the continued interest in travel-related, user-generated content. While the offering sounds like it is still in the development stages, the idea of taking user-generated content to a semi-professional level via a 'video academy' is a new angle. However, simliar to the article, how much clout does a brand such as Travel Channel have on UGC? And how much promotional value can the TV network create for such a venture?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Word of the Week - Blog

A blog (short for web log) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.

The easy of use and structure of blogs provides users with the proper tools to create, maintain and publish blogs…as opposed to simple ‘homepage’ sites such as Yahoo Geocities, which could require HTML knowledge from the user.

(See this site as an example)

Travel Trends - Digital Life, More Wikis, Yapta

A Digital Life: According to Netpop I Play, a new report from Media-Screen, broadband users spend an hour and 40 minutes (48% of their spare time) online in a typical weekday, and more than half of that is spent accessing activities related to entertainment and communication.

Food & Wine Wiki: Food & Wine magazine has teamed with Wiki community site developer Wetpaint to launch a destination, which will collect user recommendations on where to eat and shop for food and wine along with articles from the magazine.

Yapta: Yapta, the airline fare bookmarking site that we covered a few weeks ago, is now in public beta (which means you can try it out). Find a fare, bookmark it and watch the price. If you book the fare via Yapta and the fare goes down, Yapta will remind you to ask the airline for a coupon or refund.

Marchex, Fox Develop Spanish Sites

Search and media company Marchex, Inc. and News Corp.'s Fox Latin American Channels have entered into a partnership to jointly develop and program Spanish-language Web sites. Through the partnership, Fox will provide localized content and community features to the Marchex-owned Web sites including: videos, forums, blogs, personal home pages, and photo albums. The sites include (kitchen,, (soccer), (sports), (pets), (woman), (movies), (health), (greeting cards) and others. >>Full Story

Park It: Disney Travel Channel Launches

In an effort to perk up two business categories--travel and theme parks--Walt Disney is launching a video-on-demand channel, Disney Travel. Two cable systems will be part of the initial launch, Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable, which will reach more than 9 million viewers. The channel will include reality, special-event content and concerts, all focusing on Disney parks worldwide. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Not directly related to AOT, but with the convergence of online and TV in the not too distance future, an interesting article and concept.

Google to Add 'Universal Search Results'

Google is undertaking the most radical change to its search results ever, introducing a "Universal Search" system that will blend listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines among those it gathers from crawling web pages. >>Full Story

Thoughts// In the most basic terms, this announcement from Google means that now when you search for ‘Steve Jobs’ (for example), you will now receive website results along with relative videos, books, maps, etc (if available). If you are really interested in the details of this new ‘vertical search integration’ strategy, read this article from

TripAdvisor Acquires Four Travel Media Businesses, Strengthening User-Generated Content Lead in Travel

TripAdvisor, LLC, the world's largest travel community and an operating company of Expedia, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE - News), today announced it has acquired four travel media businesses, adding five travel community web domains and growing its audience to more than 24 million monthly visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix. >>Full Story

Thoughts// While the release is a couple weeks old, this article does give a bit of insight into TripAdvisor’s long-term strategy…especially considering the purchase of, and With so many niche sites in the marketplace, consolidation in this space will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Word of the Week - Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking is a way for internet users to store, classify, share and search Internet bookmarks. On a Social Bookmarking system or network, users store lists of Internet resources that they find useful. These lists can be accessible to the public by users of a specific network or website. Other users with similar interests can view the links by topic, category, tags, or even randomly., reddit and Digg are some of the more popular examples of social bookmarking sites.

The major breakthrough with this type of site, versus just bookmarking sites with your internet browser, is that having your bookmarks within a network will allow you to discover other sites that other users, with similar bookmarks, may also have bookmarked. A kind of exponential site discovery begins to happen as more users contribute more bookmarks.

Travel Trends - Trivop, NewsBreaker Live

Trivop: Straight from Europe, Tripov is being promoted as the first videoguide for hotels, the site allows consumers to browse hotels by video, assisting them in making an educated choice when deciding on which hotel to stay in. Currently only reviewing European hotels, Tripov falls perfectly into the ‘mashup’ category.

NewsBreaker Live: Called ‘the sweetest movie waiting experience I've ever had,’’s new NewsBreaker Live in-theater video game has been a hot topic in the advertising / new media world this week. Part of MSNBC’s new ‘A Fuller Spectrum of News’ campaign, audiences played the classic video game by moving in their seats to direct the controls. Initial reports said the audience wanted to play the game again…rather than watch Spiderman 3.
>>Full Story / >>More Photos

Orbitz's Leverages Social Commerce with Ask & Answer, a subsidiary of Orbitz Worldwide, has signed on as one of the first major sites to use Bazaarvoice's new Ask & Answer service--bolstering purchase decisions by allowing users to post and respond to specific product and service questions right alongside standard product information. >>Full Story

Thoughts// As the article alludes to, the popularity of the new Yahoo Answers offering is beginning to cause a ripple effect through the online world. While there have been numerous Q&A sites that have tried and failed to gather an audience, integrating this Q&A function into an already existing site (travel, healthcare, financial) does provide another level of service for the users. The primary difference between this feature and a FAQ section or a Live Chat solution, is that the section is available within the actual page, rather than a click or two away from the original content.

While the service has not launched across the entire site yet, we will continue to monitor the success of this new feature and determine possibilities for a similar service on

Yahoo Travel Gets More Personal With Users and Advertisers

Yahoo has enhanced its Yahoo Travel portal in order to bring users more personalized travel info destination and advertisers more effective lead generation. The revamp adds both user-generated content and behavioral targeting functionality to the site's three main components--Trip Planner, Travel Guides, and the FareChase comparison search engine--in addition to improved mapping and instant-messaging capabilities.

Thoughts// This update to Yahoo Travel expands on the review feature and adds a deeper level of user-generated content to the site. The most interesting part of the update is the behavioral targeting capabilities. Using a person’s preferences, activity history (what destinations have you clicked on) and similar user activity (which users are you similar to, and what have they clicked on) Yahoo Travel is now able to recommend specific, relevant destinations to each user. This behavioral targeting strategy also takes advantage of tagging (folksonomies). The targeting obviously works best when the user is logged into Yahoo Travel. With such a deep level of user preferences and tracking, this update was the next logical step for Yahoo Travel.

Word of the Week - The Long Tail

The phrase The Long Tail (as a proper noun with capitalized letters) was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article to describe certain business and economic models such as or Netflix. Typically used when referring to actual product sales from a retailer (such as Amazon), the idea argues that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough.

For example, the user-edited Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia has many low-popularity articles that, collectively, create a higher quantity of demand than a limited number of mainstream articles found in a conventional encyclopedia such as the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Travel Trends - Flagr, Silverlight, Second Life

Flagr: Using Google Maps technology, the social community site Flagr allows consumers to create and post maps of recent trips, famous locations or event sushi restaurants in New York (

Silverlight: While this is a ‘tech’ thing at this point, Microsoft’s answer to the Adobe Flash program has designers everywhere actually praising this new Microsoft product.

Second Life: After talking in a previous Interactive Trend Report post about how major corporations (Dell, Best Buy, NBA) are looking to extend there marketing efforts into this 3-D virtual world, a new report suggests that the majority of Second Life users are coming from outside of the US. According to a new comScore report, only 207,000 people from the US logged onto Second Life during the month of March. Second Life reports over 6 million total users. The accuracy of this report remains to be determined, but it is certainly a concern considering the large investment made by these US companies.

45% of Europeans watch TV online

Almost half of European broadband users are using their computers to watch television online, a survey claims. The ability to "take control" of their viewing was the motivation for many users said Motorola, which interviewed 2,500 people including the UK.

Thoughts// While not directly related to AOT (unless you are a fan of BBC shows such as the EastEnders), this new study from Motorola does indicate that a large number of European consumers not only have access to the technology (broadband internet) to watch video online, but appear to be rapid adopters as well. An interesting note to keep in mind as AOT
ventures deeper into the European marketplace.

PR Newswire to Offer Comprehensive Blog Measurement Tool

PR Newswire today announced a partnership with Umbria, a market intelligence company that specializes in blog research and consumer generated media (CGM) for market insight, to provide clients with a comprehensive blog measurement tool that allows them to assess the impact of online consumer conversations about their company, products and brands.

Thoughts// A major challenge with the growth of blogs has been the limited tracking capabilities from a media value perspective as the article explains: “The advent of citizen-generated media has both delighted and confounded public relations professionals.” This new tool, dubbed ‘PR Newswire's MediaSense™ Blog Measurement’ will allow clients to track blog posts around a press release or a news topic, and monitor how these conversations grow and wane. The article includes additional detail, including a sample report.

Word of the Week - RSS

RSS is a web feed format used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news items or podcasts. RSS allows someone to link not just to a page, but to subscribe to it, with notification every time that page changes.

(You could 'subscribe' to this blog via an RSS reader, such as Atom or Google Reader.)

Travel Trends - Joost, 43 Places

Joost: (pronounced ‘juiced’) From the two internet pioneers that created Skype (free internet based phone calls), Joost is an interactive software for distributing TV shows and other forms of video over the Web using peer-to-peer TV technology. Some pundits see Joost as the biggest change in the TV viewing landscape to date.

43 Places: An off-shoot of the popular 43 Things website, 43 Places is a social travel site that encourages people to list the places they want to go. The site relies heavily on tagging and user content.

Word of the Week - Wiki

A wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, edit and change content, typically without the need for registration. It also allows for linking among any number of pages. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring.

The most well known example of a wiki would be (

Travel Trends - Wikitravel, Yapta, StumbleUpon

Wikitravel: Thousands of travelers contributing and building a world-wide travel guide. Based on the same technology, a wiki, that is used on the ‘encyclopedia’ site, Wikipedia.

Yapta: Still in beta testing, Yapta allows users to bookmark airline fares and share them with others. The site will also allow you to bookmark and monitor fares from Southwest and jetBlue, two carriers who notoriously do not participate in 3rd party sites.

StumbleUpon: Download the toolbar to your browser, enter some of your interests and click the ‘SU’ button to find new websites that match your interests. Think of it as ‘channel-surfing’ online.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Travelers Go and Tell, Tourism Sites Show and Sell

The Internet has made the world a smaller place, and perhaps no category has felt that impact as much as the travel industry. Some 83% of people who travel are Web savvy compared with 71% of the general public, and by 2010, about nine in 10 travelers will conduct their search and trip planning via the Internet, per Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A good article from Brandweek which talks about UGC strategies that Florida, Las Vegas and Hawaii are either implementing or researching. The overall trend from Florida, Hawaii and Minnesota’s UGC offering is allowing users to post positive stories about their favorite places within a destination (such as Hawaii). It would appear that each of these DMOs believes that allowing users to post anything they like (i.e. negative stories) is too great a risk. However, it will be telling to see if users will still respond to this type of UGC offering or if they will simply not post on sites that maintain a certain level of control.

It is also interesting to note that so many major DMOs, such as Hawaii and Las Vegas are still researching and looking at ways to effectively incorporate UGC into their sites.

Web Audience Measurement by Cookie Counting Considerably Overestimated

comScore recently released a study that analyzes the validity of using cookie-based data to measure unique visitors and to gauge the number of unique users that were served an ad by an ad server. The results indicate that Web site server logs that count unique cookies to measure unique visitors are likely to be exaggerating the size of the site's audience by a factor as high as 2.5, or an overstatement of 150 percent. >>Full Story

Thoughts// The accuracy of cookie-based data has always been in question, however this is one of the first reports to provide an estimate of how great the difference could be. While cookie-based the data does provide some good insight, users resetting their cookies causes problems with the accuracy of the data. At this point, this type of report does not affect how AOT reports web site statistics due to the fact that industry standards remain the same.

Why Pay for Expert Opinions When You Can Just Go Online?

On April 5, Google turned its extremely popular atlas site into a full-fledged community called My Maps. Users can annotate locations and create their own routes, all via a simple point-and-click interface. The system supports photos and video as well. (Subscription Now Required)

Thoughts// A brief article from Advertising Age that discusses the impact of UGC on the travel industry. A very short article, which repeats some of the same themes we have been discussing, however it does talk about the decentralization of travel-related knowledge and how this trend could influence other industries such as financial services and health care.

Travel Trends - Trip Sync, Mozes, Second Life

Trip Sync: A distributed booking system aimed at trip planning for small to medium sized businesses. Book travel, rental cars, hotels and manage it all via Outlook. (We would encourage you to watch the demo, it is very interesting technology)

Mozes: Create your own keyword, share info via text messaging.

Second Life: A 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Recently, several major corporations have begun participating in Second Life, including Sun Microsystems, Best Buy, Dell, Philips, and even the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration (NOAA) and the Swedish government. and

Word of the Week - Mashup

A mashup is a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience. For example: using Google Maps and realtor information from to show houses for sale in Phoenix on a Google Map. (

Reporter: Google Makes Mashups Easy

Mashups that overlay any kind of data on top of an online map are all the rage. But up until now I didn't know that even I, with no coding experience whatsoever, could make a customized map of my own. I did, and it took less than an hour. And it can even be found in the Google Maps index if I want it to. Google allowed me to preview a new feature of its maps service that it plans to launch on Thursday called My Maps.

Thoughts// Google has just added a function to there Google Maps product allowing anyone (via registration) to create their own personal map. The map could be of a family road trip, all Major League Baseball Stadiums or results from the 2004 Presidential Election. The map can then be saved, allowing it to become searchable in the Google Maps database, emailed or linked to.

Although this product is largely aimed at the novice user, not the programmer, the new ‘My Maps’ feature could be another possible promotional opportunity for AOT…for example, by re-purposing itineraries or special projects onto the map and then having links back to AOT for more information.

For example, here is our Arizona Origins campaign using the Google Maps tool:

Lonely Planet Launches Video, Social Networking Site

Travel media company Lonely Planet has launched, an online community marrying professionally created video programming with a hearty dose of user-generated videos, blogs, forums, ratings, booking services, and other travel-centric applications. Advertisers are being sought. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Lonely Planet has partnered with Reality Digital using their ‘Reality Digital Opus’ platform to host, manage, upload and share videos on the new site. Reality Digital, along with Brightcove, are two options that we have also been monitoring and evaluating. We will also keep an eye on the Lonely Planet site to gauge participation and interest levels in the new product.

Google Tests Cost-Per-Action Ads

Search giant Google has launched another limited beta of pay-per-action advertising--a model that allows advertisers to pay for a specific consumer activity, like signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. >>Full Story

Thoughts// The impact on AOT marketing efforts are quite clear, if Google continues the rollout of this new ‘CPA’ (Cost-Per-Action) model, we could purchase advertising and only be charged if a user downloads or orders the OSVG, instead of paying for just the click. Obviously the costs would be higher than typical CPC (Cost-Per-Click) programs, but the results and leads generated could be extremely valuable.

Email Experts on the new Outlook

Microsoft caused a stir in the e-mail marketing world when it was learned that its Outlook 2007 e-mail client would not support cascading style sheets, flash or animated GIFs, JavaScript and forms. While many experts are pessimistic about the effects of these changes on deliverability and user experience, others suggest that the rendering issues will impel marketers to create simpler and more uniform e-mail products. >> Full Story

Thoughts// The new restrictions of Outlook 2007 should be taken into consideration in our email marketing campaigns, however Flash, animated GIFs, forms and JavaScript elements should not be used in our email marketing to begin with. CSS (cascading style sheets) could be used, but a simple work around is available.