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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Creating Next Generation Digital Experiences with Dragable Driving Directions and Photosynth

Thoughts// If you've been using Google Maps regularly like I do, you've noticed by now that the maps have become more interactive and allows you to add multiple driving points and customize your route by simply "dragging and dropping."

Kevin (our director or marketing here) and I had a brief chat in the office today about the power of the experience we could convey if we can extend this mapping experience and marry it to "Photosynth." Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking "multidimensional spaces" with "zoom and navigation"...all built from digital images (Flickr, cell phone images etc.).

Building such a platform where consumers can play, build itineraries and then start a conversation with each other (and the brand) can make for a compelling digital experience that makes a vacation eagerly anticipated and fondly remembered. For a demo of the photosynth project, please check out the presentation below.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Interactive Trend Report Partners With Travel Oregon

The Interactive Trend Report was originally created to provide insight into the interactive marketing and travel fields for the Arizona Office of Tourism.

In an effort to broaden the scope and reach of the report, the Arizona Office of Tourism has invited Travel Oregon, specifically Mo Sherifdeen (the resident 'Geek-In-Chief'), to contribute and collaborate on the Interactive Trend Report. This partnership will present additional views and opinions on the ever-changing interactive marketing landscape.

I am sure you will find Mo's thoughts and opinions on interactive marketing both significant and very insightful.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Travel Trends - Email, MySpace, Tacoda, AOL

Addicted To Email - According to a recent survey, the typical user checks their email an average of 5 times per day. In addition, 15% of those surveyed consider themselves 'addicted' to email. And most users have more than one email account...half (52%) have two or three accounts, while 22% have four or more.

29,000 Sex Offenders Identified On MySpace
- While certainly not a shock to anyone familiar with the ease of registering on MySpace, the news that the company has identified 29,000 sex offenders that were members of the site does cause a great deal of concern for companies using MySpace as a promotional tool. As with any ad campaign or marketing effort, attention must be paid to how the medium will affect the consumers and in this case, the repercussions of using such a public forum to deliver a brand message. The scary part of this story is that these 29,000 are only the users who registered with their real names.

AOL Buys Ad Firm Tacoda - AOL has purchased behavioral targeting ad firm Tacoda. The deal, which brings AOL into the ad network buying frenzy, could mark an important turning point for behavioral targeting. In the past, most major portals steered clear of such ad delivering methods due to consumer privacy concerns, but with AOL clearly supporting behavorial targeting, the technology may finally clear the privacy hurtle once and for all.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Virgin Mobile Causing A Stir With Flickr Photos

Virgin Mobile has been accused of breaching people's "moral rights" after it took images from a popular photo-sharing website without asking permission and used them in a national advertising campaign.

People around the world who posted their photos on the Yahoo-owned Flickr website have objected to their images being used in hundreds of Australian billboard ads, accompanied by provocative captions. >>Full Story | Flickr Posts | Virgin Mobile Campaign

Thoughts// An intriguing story from Australia that appears to be one of the first situations to test the Creative Commons (see Word of the Week post about Creative Commons) licensing agreement. In short, Virgin Mobile Australia is using Flickr-posted photos in a current ad campaign. These photos were posted on Flickr under the Creative Commons license, which (under this particular license) allows anyone to use them for any purpose. Virgin Mobile did not contact each of the photo owners to let them know about the campaign, which, was not technically necessary. However, considering the amount of negative posts in response to the campaign, Virgin Mobile might have been better served to at least notify the photographers prior to the campaign launch.

The real sticky part of this whole debate deals with the photos that show people. Virgin Mobile did not receive a photo release for the talent, but the Creative Commons license does not fully address the issue of talent. What becomes especially tough for Virgin Mobile is that not only have they used a photo without the 'blessing' of the photographer or the talent, but that some of the talent in the photos are underage.

The lesson for Virgin Mobile or anyone else using publicly-hosted photos is to notify the photographers prior to using their photos, especially if they are for a commercial advertisement. A quick email from Virgin Mobile to these photographers would have created a group of Virgin brand evangelists, instead of a rash of bad publicity.

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking

On the Web, anyone can be a mapmaker. With the help of simple tools introduced by Internet companies recently, millions of people are trying their hand at cartography, drawing on digital maps and annotating them with text, images, sound and videos.

In the process, they are reshaping the world of mapmaking and collectively creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Yet another illustration that "mashups" have come a long way since Google and other providers released their API to the public back in 2005. This article refers to how new tools such as Google's My Maps and MSN's Collections—both of which allow users to create custom "mashups" without any technical knowledge—have transformed the web into "a medium where maps will play a more central role in how information is organized and found."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Case Study: Trail Blazers' Use of Twitter to Chat With NBA Fans

I have been intrigued about the buzz around Twitter and curious about its potential use as a tool to engage and interact with consumers. My curiosity was fueled earlier this summer when I saw a campaign by the Portland Trail Blazers who used Twitter (view the site here) as part of a campaign to stimulate conversation among NBA fans about the recent draft (Portland had the number one pick).

I connected with my friend Stephen Landau, partner at Portland based digital brand agency Substance (his firm created the campaign) for a few words of wisdom…why Twitter, why now and how did it work?

Why did you and the Trail Blazers feel that Twitter was the right platform for this campaign?
When we were thinking about ways for the Trail Blazers to extend their digital brand beyond the web site, the idea of communicating via mobile devices came up. But with traditional text messaging, there's a fairly expensive cost in sending out text messages and setting up a number. Twitter, however, is free to subscribe to (via the web or mobile device), and free to use. This allowed the Trail Blazers to send out messages whenever they wanted.

Why did you we think it was important to communicate using Twitter, why not blogs or email?
With the NBA Draft drawing significant attention because of the caliber of potential first round picks (Greg Oden or Kevin Durant), we wanted to build upon this excitement for the Portland fans. Twitter allowed fans to be a part of the conversation, hearing what was going on pre-draft, all the way up to the moment the draft choice was made.

Post-draft, Twitter was used to send announcements about Greg Oden, his visit to Portland, and then moved into information about Summer League.

We also used Twitter as a content management tool, pulling the Twitter feed directly into the "Oden or Durant" microsite. This allowed the Trail Blazers to publish content to the microsite without investing in a full content management tool.

Can you share any results of the campaign?
Currently, over 150 people are "following" the Trail Blazers Twitter feed via Twitter, which doesn't count other RSS feed subscriptions. The plan is to continue to utilize Twitter for communications during the basketball season... everything from special ticket offers to game results.

Any parting comments?
The interesting part of Twitter, as with many Web 2.0 technologies, isn't what people might initially use it for. For example, many people dismissed Twitter as a "what I'm doing right now" kind of online service, to write about making toast, or going to a movie, or whatever they were doing. But abstracting this idea to further think about, "what is my company (or my brand) doing right now," using the existing technology, allows for continued growth from a digital brand standpoint. The more compelling and relevant the content, the better the conversation between people and brands, and better conversations result in better relationships.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Email Defines, Not Defies, Innovation

At least once a year, I have the same old conversation with people who want to zero email out when dividing up the marketing dollars by claiming it’s a stale technology that can’t keep up with innovative digital applications like RSS, social networking, SMS marketing and microblogging (Twitter, for instance) >>Full Story

Thoughts// Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same! As "clutter-prone" as email is, the writer argues that email's adaptability—it's ability to "reinvent itself, overcome performance challenges, integrate with other technologies and channels"—makes it an "innovative" and attractive over "new" and "cool" platforms such as Twitter that don't have real world applications.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Transparency Tyranny

The non-competitive and the downright incompetent have very few stones left to hide under: never before have consumers’ purchase decisions been so strongly influenced by all kinds of transparency. In fact, TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY now rules:

"Old economy fog is clearing: no longer can incompetence, below-par performance, ignored global standards, anti-social & anti-eco behavior, or opaque pricing be obscured. In its place has come a transparent, fully informed marketplace, where producers have no excuse left to underperform. TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY for some, TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH for others." >> Full Story

Thoughts// I read the article above a few months back but was reminded of it again by two developments last week; 1) Wal-mart's decision to allow consumer reviews online and 2) Trip Advisor's recent launch of it's traveler network.

This thoughtful article examines the impact of user generated content, customer reviews and ratings and makes some predictions about where it's going. Some of the conclusions include:

  • "Sheer mass of reviews will lead to daily, and...even hourly reviews on any topic imaginable...mass postings will also unmask, outnumber and thus neutralize fake reviews."
  • Ubiquitous online access from mobile devices and camera phones means reviews can be documented and posted instantly and on the spot. This also means that reviews will go "multi-media." (For a classic example, check out the story of this WAMU credit customer who documented poor call center service)
  • "Star reviewers" that evangelize the brand through great reviews and recommendations could demand a "piece of the action."
  • Web enabled mobile devices capable of capturing bar codes and performing an instant online/offline "price comparison" would make create ultimate price transparency.

Empowering consumers to share and interact with one another has been an important strategy for Travel Oregon; this spring, we sponsored the build of a travel community for Oregon that allows like-minded individuals to share/rate places; check it out at:

What the French Taught Us (Online Engagement in Politics)

Click on the Freestyle Zone, one of 16 video channels on French president Nicholas Sarkozy's Web site, and you begin to understand how this former candidate's Internet strategy played a big role in helping him win the May 6 election. >>Full Story

Thoughts// With CNN hosting a one-of-a-kind "YouTube" debate Monday and Tuesday night, this article on AdWeek offers a fascinating look at how the interactive medium, and tactics such as social networking, streaming video, played a key role in the political strategy for the recent French elections and how they've already inspired elections here.

(Note - This article does not directly relate to marketing/travel 2.0; however working in politics was my first immersion in marketing and I've always been inspired by the techniques used in political campaigns to
build "engagement". From the use of social networking, user generated video, blogs, twitter feeds and "friend" collections on Facebook and MySpace, technology is already leaving an indelible mark on the 2008 Presidential Election and will no doubt provide marketers some interesting case studies in the future)

Friday, July 20, 2007

When Fewer Clicks Are A Good Thing

There may be times when a declining click-through rate on a behaviorally targeted campaign is a good sign. When ran a comparative test of three campaigns that used both run-of-network and BT techniques, Brent Halliburton, director of network strategy, was surprised at the results. The targeted ads demonstrated lower CTRs than untargeted ads, and yet at the same time they showed much better results on the back end. This week, Halliburton walks us through that research and explains what it means to media planners. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A very interesting article and interview from the Behavioral Insider about the drop in CTR (click-thru rates) during behaviorally targeted campaigns. Although the research does not initially make logical sense, the hypothesis put forth that the BT ads are 'wedding out the window shoppers' does begin to explain the results. A timely and useful article as advertisers begin to really question what all of those clicks mean.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Word of the Week - Vlog

A video blog (vlog) is a blog that is primary comprised of video. Regular entries are typically presented in reverse chronological order (exactly like a blog) and often combine embedded video or a video link with supporting text, images, and other metadata.

See our 'Word of the Week - Blog' post for a full definition of a blog.

Travel Trends - MSN, Video, Google, Newspapers & MSN Travel - MSN and, the airfare prediction Web site, announced an agreement today in which MSN will offer its users free airfare predictions and planning tools on the MSN Travel Channel. This agreement marks the first distribution deal for Farecast to bring its unique travel technology and planning tools to a broader consumer audience. (Ironically posted on

Online Video Numbers
- comScore's Video Metrix report for May said that nearly 75% of U.S. Internet users watched an average of 158 minutes of online video during the month. Viewing of online video has reached 63% of U.S. Internet viewers according to a CTAM report.

Google Small Business Search -
Google Custom Search Business Edition is a service hosted on Google computers that starts at $100 per year and does not require businesses to run Google ads. The new service marks a middle option between Google's existing Custom Search Engine, a free, ad-supported service, and Google Appliance, a hardware device selling for prices starting around $2,000 which customers manages on themselves.

Newspaper Crossover - A new study recently released by the Newspaper National Network LP, conducted by Scarborough Research, found that 81% of newspaper website users also read the printed newspaper in the last 7 days. Crossover users (those who used both print and online newspapers in the past 7 days) have deep affinity with both their printed newspaper and their newspaper website, and 83% say "I love both my printed newspaper and visiting my newspapers website."

When Web Branding Works

Want to craft an effective online branding campaign? Think pictures, not words. Keep it simple. And tie it in with your offline efforts.

Those are some of the common strategies behind eight campaigns Dynamic Logic found to be the most effective online branding efforts out of all the campaigns the company measured in 2006. >> Full Story

What the top campaigns had in common:

  • Keep it visually simple. Stick to little text and beautiful product shots. Online ads "are competing with a lot of other elements," said Michelle Eule, VP-research at Dynamic Logic.
  • Put the brand front and center.
  • Align online and offline campaigns. What's happening in other media can reinforce the online message and vice versa.
  • Incorporate video and rich media: McDonald's salad spun. Oreo cookies dunked. And try out various video units—pre-roll, full-page interstitials, in-banner video.
  • Add interactivity. Kraft let users virtually mix its Crystal Light On the Go product into a bottle of water.

Thoughts// An interesting look at some other online ads from 2006. The bullets above seem fairly obvious, but more often than not, some of these points are disregarded during ad creation. It should be noted that this study only included ads measured by Dynamic Logic, not all online ads. Still, some good case studies on what to do in online advertising.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Web: Why Your Web Marketing Strategy Needs A Widget

Welcome to the Me2 Generation aka Web 3.0. It is their world, we just live in it. And as precious as your content may be to you, ultimately it means little to them if they are unable to interact with it, share it, and personalize it...

Have you made it possible for your content to live in the worlds that are important to your audiences? >>Full Story

Thoughts// For anyone thinking about widget/gadgets ('gadget' is what Google calls it's widgets), this blog on is a fascinating take on the future of content in the interactive medium. The most compelling argument for creating a widget/gadget is that it empowers your "evangelists" to take your brand/product, personalize and "pimp" it for you.

Brands grow when they let go, and a widget that thrives on multiple environments—be it MySpace, Facebook, personal blogs or your MyGoogle page—can provide consumers the ultimate PERSONAL brand experience.

The widget discussion is something we've been having internally at Travel Oregon for a while; we recently collaborated with our agency (w+k) to build an iGoogle gadget (it's in alpha right now - screen shot above). Essentially this is our stab at "decoupling" the content from our site and allowing consumers to experience the Oregon brand on their own terms, in their own spaces.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How Marketers Hone Their Aim Online

When Pepsi-Cola North America wanted to make a splash on the Web this spring to promote its new low-calorie vitamin-enhanced water, Aquafina Alive, the beverage company didn't run ads just anywhere on the Internet. It placed ads only on sites it knew would be visited by people interested in healthy lifestyles.

Pepsi was using an increasingly popular online advertising strategy called behavioral targeting, in which marketers analyze consumers' online activities to figure out who is most likely to be interested in its product -- and then place ads on whatever sites those consumers are visiting. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Nice piece in the WSJ about the increased use of behavioral marketing, focusing on Pepsi's use of Tacoda network to market its new Aquafina product. I totally echo the sentiment of the article; Travel Oregon used the Tacoda network for our 365 campaign this spring and were blown away by the results.

Reaching More Customers With a Simple Text Message

Online retailers were, for all the obvious reasons, the pioneers of Web advertising. When it comes to advertising on the mobile Web, though, they are treading carefully.

On the one hand, executives and analysts said, online retailers are right to be cautious. After all, few consumers are buying items through their mobile devices. But at least some online retailers say they have found enticing success from early marketing efforts, as long as those initiatives are aimed at simply keeping themselves on the radar of customers as opposed to trying to prompt an immediate purchase or a visit to the company’s Web site. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Good article on the careful use of mobile marketing by retailers; with mobile devices becoming ubiquitous and travel companies and big brands already using text (e.g. Luxor/MGM hotels, MTV, Coke), to reach consumers, mobile marketing is a growing trend. It goes without saying that it needs to be permission based and must be used with extreme caution - no one wants to pay for unwanted text messages or feel "spammed" on their cell/mobile device.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Travel Trends - China, Google Mapplets

Chinese Internet Use - There are now an estimated 137 million internet users in China, second in number only to the United States, where estimates of the current internet population range from 165 million to 210 million. The growth rate of China's internet user population has been outpacing that of the U.S., and China is projected to overtake the U.S. in the total number of users within a few years. (See the chart above for a visual representation.)

Google Maps Introduces 'Mapplets' - Now Google users can create custom map mashups built from other people's mashups. The company has rolled together two of its user-generated mapping products -- MyMaps and Mapplets -- to give Google Maps users the ability to create custom maps using dynamic data. Users can add data points like location-based photo searches from Picasa and gas prices from GasBuddy to their custom maps.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Clicking with Hispanic Online Consumers

Hispanic online buyers will spend more on retail spending than any other minority group until at least 2011; incorporating customer product reviews is one way to cozy up to that market. For retailers interested in gaining more traction with the Hispanic online consumer base, the report suggests that they incorporate customer product reviews and recommendations from others. >> Full Story

Thoughts// An interesting summary of a March 2007 Jupiter Research/Ipsos-Insight report (209 U.S. online Hispanics and 1,900 U.S. online non-Hispanics). Highlights include:

  • 66 percent of Hispanics and 72 percent of non-Hispanics did not contribute content online regarding products during the past year. (Note: This just takes into account contributing content, not using or being influenced by content)

  • Online Hispanics are slightly more engaged than non-online Hispanics when it comes to rating items (2 percent more), tagging products (3 percent), and posting products on their social networking pages (1 percent).

  • 5 percent more likely to blog about products and 6 percent more likely to post product reviews on sites other than a retail Web site than their non-Hispanic counterparts.

  • Hispanic users are twice as likely as are non-Hispanic users to say they wanted to vent about bad experiences or warn other customers about products' shortcomings.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Social Networking Around the World

About a fifth of adults have visited a social networking Web site, and an equal percentage of Internet users have done so in the past 30 days, according to a survey of several countries by Ipsos Insight.  >> Full Story

Thoughts// What is most interesting about these numbers is the growth of social networking sites in the urban Mexico market.

SideStep Targets Young Adults with TripUp Acquisition

Travel search provider SideStep is acquiring TripUp, a travel-focused social network and community site that is akin to a Facebook for the backpack set. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is SideStep's second acquisition of a start up that deals with user generated content and a second move targeted at the young adult set. Last year, SideStep acquired TravelPost, a site for user reviews of hotels. And SideStep recently built an application that lets Facebook users plan trips together within that site. >> Full Story

Thoughts// While I would not directly compare TripUp to Facebook, this purchase by SideStep does allow it to enter the travel-related social networking space. It should be intriguing to watch how SideStep integrates TripUp into it's existing sites.

JetBlue Airways Partners With Google Maps On Real-Time Flight Tracking

JetBlue Airways Corporation has partnered with Google Maps to provide customers with a real-time flight tracking channel on its signature seatback televisions to map the aircraft's route. To celebrate, the low-fare, high-frills airline is launching a "JetBlue Point of View" photo contest(a), inviting customers to share their own summer travel routes on a Google Maps mash-up on >> Full Story

Thoughts// A new use and partnership for Google Maps. Using the Google Maps technology JetBlue will offer real-time flight tracking both online and in-flight. Another good example of a company (JetBlue) using another companies (Google) strengths and assests to it's avantage.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

User-Gen to Grow Into $4.3 Bil. Business

User-generated content on the Web is set to rapidly shift from an budding consumer trend to a serious business over the next five years.

Ad spending on Web sites that have built their traffic on user-gen staples like social networking, photo sharing and amateur video is expected to soar to $4.3 billion in 2011, according to a new report issued by eMarketer. That’s an whopping increase of 330 percent versus the $1 billion expected to be spent in the space this year – which is itself more than double the $450 million in ad revenue tracked by eMarketer in 2006. >> Full Story

Thoughts// Certainly not a surprise considering the popularity of YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, but still some interesting predictions on ad spending in the UGC space.

Travel Trends - 71Miles, Social Networking's Social Classes

71Miles - Half blog, half travel guide, 71Miles combines in-depth writing with the nimbleness of a blog to feature short, well-written articles on specific cities. Initially focused on Northern California, 71Miles combines (or mashes-up) several technologies, including Google Maps,, video slideshows and consumer comments to create a simple blog-post style travel guide.

Social Networking's Social Classes - Emerging data suggest the two may not be direct competitors after all. The blogosphere is buzzing about a provocative June 24 essay by U.C. Berkeley researcher Danah Boyd suggesting that MySpace and Facebook users are dividing along race and class lines.

Blackstone to buy Hilton Hotels for $20B

Hilton Hotels Corp. has agreed to an all-cash buyout from The Blackstone Group LP in a $20.1 billion deal that would instantly make Blackstone the world's largest hotel owner. >> Full Story

Thoughts// The Blackstone / Hilton buyout story has been in the press for a few days, however the interesting side note on this story is that Blackstone already is invested in several companies (LaQuinta Inns and LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels) in the industry, including Travelport, the parent of and the Galileo global distribution system, which was purchased a year ago from Cendant for $4.3 billion. This latest acquisition creates an interesting corporate relationship between the two travel industry heavyweights.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Word of the Week - API

A very technical term, but one that is thrown around all too often by people who do not know what the word means. While the term can have several meanings, in a simplified 'Web 2.0' context, API or application programming interface, is talking about a single entry point that one computer system uses to 'talk' to another computer system.

Good examples of an API in use are the recent Facebook programs that have been created by outside programmers. These programmers can view the API or code and create computer systems or programs that will 'talk' to the Facebook site. Google Maps also is a good example of a widely used API.

APIs are the foundation upon which 'Mashups' are created. Without APIs, there would not be any mashups.

Northwest Airlines Offers PayPal Option To Customers

Northwest Airlines said Thursday it will offer customers the option of paying for tickets purchased on its Web site using the online payment service PayPal.

Customers will be able to use credit and debit cards as well as bank accounts to purchase tickets via PayPal. The move makes Northwest the first airline to accept PayPal for bookings, PayPal said.

Shares of Northwest Airlines Corp. -- which exited bankruptcy protection in May -- rose 29 cents to $22.47 in afternoon trading. Shares of eBay, which owns PayPal, shed 5 cents to $32.03 in afternoon trading.

Thoughts// By offering the PayPal option to its customers, Northwest becomes the first airline in the industry to offer an alternate, e-commerce method of payment. Initially only available to WorldPerks frequent flyer members, the PayPal option will allow customers to pay for original tickets with the digital e-commerce provider. This is PayPal's first venture into the lucrative online travel marketplace.

Yahoo Launches Behavior-Based SmartAds

Yahoo today launches behavior-based SmartAds, a product that epitomizes the blending of brand and direct response advertising. It allows advertisers to target their message and creative on-the-fly and triggered by online user behavior.

For example, a user based in San Francisco who frequents the Boxing page on Yahoo Sports and recently searched for "Vegas deals" might get a "smart" display ad from an airline featuring the customized offer and creative: "Fly San Francisco to Las Vegas for Fight Night - $99." >> Full Story

Thoughts// Some very interesting technology from Yahoo!. The new SmartAds offering will give advertising creative even more relevance to the end user. What remains to be seen is how all of this 'smart advertising' will affect user's trust...will they accept the ad as helpful or see the ad as a little too invasive? Note that Yahoo! will launch the new service first in the Travel category.