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, August 30, 2007

Farecast Adds Prediction Tools For Hotels

Farecast, the airfare price prediction site, has expanded its coverage and price prediction tools to a new beta service for hotels. For the launch the new hotel price predictions work in the top 30 U.S. destinations and pull in data from partner sites like Orbitz, Cheaptickets, and ReserveTravel, as well as Farecast's own information.

The results for a hotel search are displayed on a color-coded map with price and other details. Red pins indicate good deals, while blue ones stand for over-priced results. Clicking on a hotel will display a graph of prices over time — particularly the fluctuation on either end of your intended stay. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Ah, give the people what they want. "I just want to know if this $259 hotel room is a good deal?" A simple solution to a question that (I would safely assume) many travelers ask. As I think more about this new prediction tool, I wonder why major hotel chains (or other travel-related companies) have not been providing this type of service for travelers. True, there would be times when prices at the hotel would be high and 'over-priced', but I wonder if consumers would simply look for weeks or weekends that show as 'deals.' Perhaps structure the rating system in a more favorable way for the hotel...'Great Deal, Deal, Normal, High Occupancy (read, expensive). Or, could some of the larger hotel chains direct travelers to other hotels within the brand that may offer a better deal.

We are already seeing some of this thinking within the airline industry. Many carriers, including Delta, display easy-to-read search results on which flights are the best bargains for that day. Bargain flights may be at inopportune times, but they at least give the consumer more options and a greater sense of what they are paying for.

Instead of thinking how you are going to 'hide' high prices or unfavorable aspects, start thinking about how your company, and the related businesses within it, can help consumers find a better solution and a better they still choose to fly, stay or dine with you.

Hyatt Rolls Out Ultimate Adventure Challenge

The latest installment of Hyatt Resorts' "Ultimate Adventure Challenge" goes live today. Curium Studios developed the Web-based reality series for Global Hyatt, a project aimed at building brand awareness and affinity for the Hyatt Resorts group of family-focused "adventure" vacation properties.

Hosted at, the Webisodes follow five families as they compete in activities like kayak races, scavenger hunts and jungle safaris during a two-week stint across three US Hyatt Resorts locations. >>Full Story

Thoughts// An interesting promotion and concept from Hyatt, a sort of take-off from The Amazing Race television show. As Jim Forni, executive producer, says in the article, the one of the reasons behind the promotion was to jump into the YouTube craze, but still maintain brand control of the product ("Like many other brands, Hyatt wanted to leverage the participatory energy that's frequently attached to sites like YouTube,but in a thoughtful manner that would integrate the brand without completely turning it over.") Another good quote in the piece explains that the promotion was looked upon as a way to 'nudge' consumers down the purchase funnel without making a typical commercial. An obvious move to use 3 (spectacular) Hyatt resorts as the backdrops for the series completes the commercial within a show concept. With somewhat limited advertising (the article did not go into detail), it will be interesting to see how much participation this promotion, and the Delta SiteSeer Challenge, generate without the easy-to-find, hard-to-target, 'YouTube' audience.

Your Momma...

...uses search to shop online. DoubleClick Performics recently released data resulting from a usage study targeting "moms," and completed in cooperation with Microsoft and ROI Research, which showed that of the nearly 1,000 moms surveyed, 89 percent use the Internet at least twice/day, and 90 percent have been using it for more than seven years. 86 percent of respondents said search engines are the most efficient way to find information. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Just in case there were any lingering doubts of how women, particularly moms, use the internet, this new study from DoubleClick reveals that moms are more than capable of using the internet for search. Considering that many statistics and reports point to the female, or mom, as the planner of travel, this new report provides further justification for the importance of a SEO program within your overall online marketing plan. Important results from the study include:

  • 70% use search engines to gather information before making any online purchase.
  • 95% have been using the Internet for more than five years.
  • 86% feel that search engines are the best way to find information.
  • 64% use a search engine to gather more information after seeing an advertisement.

Word of the Week - Mahalo.

No....we're not on vacation in Hawaii! Developed by a start up led by famed tech tycoon Jason Calacanis, Mahalo is billed as a "human-powered search engine that creates organized, comprehensive, and spam free search results for the most popular search terms. Our search results only include great links."

For those of you that have been on the "net" long enough, yes, this is a throwback to the old Yahoo! directory days or Mozilla directory days. Mahalo is betting that because its search results are "prepared by humans, sifted and sorted and condensed for maximum relevance," search users would no longer be faced with pages and pages of spam results generated rogue SEO agents. For a fill profile on Jason and his thinking behind Mahalo, check out the latest edition of Fast Company or read about it online here.

Coming next week - Can Mahalo kill Google? A conversation with Portland area SEO professionals.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Behavioral Targeting Gets Social

Social-networking Web site Facebook Inc. is quietly working on a new advertising system that would let marketers target users with ads based on the massive amounts of information people reveal on the site about themselves.

Eventually, it hopes to refine the system to allow it to predict what products and services users might be interested in even before they have specifically mentioned an area. Full Story>>

Thoughts// A nice piece last week in the WSJ about how Facebook is building an algorithm that will allow advertisers the ability to target advertising to users based on their interests and personal connections. Essentially what this means is that all the little tidbits about yourself on your profile and information mined from applications on your profile (e.g. TripAdvisor’s "Where I’ve Been" ap) will now be used to show you more relevant ads.

With more than 1 million people flocking to Facebook each week, the media drumbeat around the site has certainly been deafening (can you say IPO?). Besides the WJS piece on its targeting service Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) is featured on the cover of Newsweek in an article about its relevance as its moves beyond the borders of college. All this probably leaves you wondering what’s going on with MySpace. MySpace is clearly the category leader in terms of sheer users (70 million at last count) and already offers a somewhat limited behavioral targeting platform. However, as pointed out earlier in this report, it just maybe that these two spaces may not be competitors after all.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Content Replaces Communications As Primary Web Use

According to the Online Publishers Association, Internet users are spending nearly half their online time visiting content, a 37% increase in share of time from four years ago. The Internet Activity Index, conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings, shows that communications accounted for 46% of consumers' time online in 2003. A dramatic shift has taken place since then, with consumers now spending 47% of their time with content and only 33% with communication. Full Story>>

Thoughts// A not so surprising report this morning from the Online Publishers Association that includes brands such as CNN, ESPN, NY Times. As broadband becomes ubiquitous and as content providers allow users to seamless integrate content into social networks (e.g. NYTimes lets you post favorite articles and share on Facebook), content has reclaimed its place as King. The study reports several factors that have led to this shift:

  1. A more accessible, and much faster, Internet is driving increased overall time spent online.
  2. The increased popularity of video is leading to more time being spent with online content. (Thanks You Tube)
  3. Improvement in search allows consumers to more easily and quickly find the exact content.
  4. The Web simply offers far more content than it did even four years ago, increasing content's share of time.
  5. The rise of instant messaging (IM) as a key communications tool has been a factor in communication's reduction in share of time. IM is a more efficient communications vehicle than email.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Orleans CVB Launches

With the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina next week and tourism a vital resource needed for New Orleans' recovery, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau launched an online component to its "Forever New Orleans" international branding campaign., an itinerary-planning tool for visitors who want to see New Orleans as local residents do. Visitors can scroll through hotels, restaurants and activities for each of the 24 hours of the day and customize their own itinerary. There's also a section where residents and frequent visitors to the city can post their favorite activities. >>

Thoughts// A fresh look and clever take on the itinerary building concept make an interesting and pleasing site to visit. The site's stripped down navigation takes a couple clicks to get use to, but after that it is pretty straight the time, select an activity, add it to your itinerary and then print. The content and images are informative and expressive of New Orleans and little touches such as the 'Spice Level' rating tie into an overall theme. Unfortunately, the site does not offer users the chance to submit true user-generated content (it appears to be a submit and review system) or receive customized recommendations based upon interests...more than likely a conscious decision. But the simplicity of the site and ease of use make this an interesting case study.

Travel Trends - YouTube, Statistics

YouTube Ad Plan Shuns Pre-Rolls - YouTube, via Google, announced today that it has decided not to use pre-roll advertising on YouTube for part of it's ad model. The plan was due in part to the terrible response during testing, with a 15 second pre-roll spot having an abandonment rate of 75 percent. YouTube will now work on perfecting 'overlay' ads with a few content providers. The article also mentions that YouTube does not plan on placing advertising on user-generated videos. An interesting side note to the story, if Google and YouTube are not backing the pre-roll ads, is this the beginning of the end for the pre-roll ad? Would you serve up an ad that 75% of people click to get away from?

The Numbers Game - A good article from Fortune sums up the current debate about online measurement...a set of standards is needed. Consider, as the article points out, Yahoo!'s stats for the month of June. ComScore measures it at 133 million, while Nielsen//NetRatings claims it was 108 million. Too many sources reporting too many different statistics.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Second Life: Boom or Bust?

Current issues of Newsweek and Wired offer two opposite views of the Second Life virtual world.

Newsweek's article, "Alternate Universe," is overwhelmingly positive, claiming that "Second Life is emerging as a powerful new medium for social interactions of all sorts, from romance to making money. It may be the Internet's next big thing."

Wired's article, "How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life," is decidedly negative, stating that the environment is largely empty, hindered by nonscalable technology and boring. >> Full Story

Thoughts// A great post from Computerworld Magazine on the current debate over Second Life. Many organizations, including major media outlets (such as Newsweek) and even the WTM, are praising Second Life as a major marketing breakthrough while new questions and statistics are showing a different story. Personally, I tend to agree a bit more with the Wired article that casts doubt on how powerful a marketing vehicle Second Life really is. While Second Life is certainly a very popular and cutting-edge offering for the general public, the question is, can Second Life be an effective marketing tool to spend considerable time and money on. For most marketers, the answer would be no.

If you are interested in the Second Life phenomenon and how avatars, gambling and cyber-space 'shootings' are all part of the game, I would highly recommend reading both the Newsweek and Wired articles as well as this article from TIME. They offer differing views, but all three provide a good look into this virtual world.

Who Needs a Travel Agent?

When it comes to travel, perhaps more so than any other industry, word-of-mouth is king. Travelers make decisions on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do based on recommendations from friends.

No surprise, then, that many of today’s niche social networking sites are built around travel: WAYN, TravelPod, TripAdvisor, IGoUGo, SideStep (thanks to the recent acquisition of TripUp), FlyerTalk — the list is tremendous. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A basic article from OMMA discussing the impact of social networking on the travel industry in a very high-level tone. Most of the article covers topics that are a bit old (Travelocity's MySpace page) or currently being debated (the value of Second Life)...all of which have been covered by this blog. While the article does offer a good overview, it makes too many general statements without a true objective look at the current state of social networking on the travel industry.

Brands Move Down the Long Tail to Niche Nets

When Levi Strauss launches a new online campaign next week, its ads will be found in the usual portals such as MSN and Yahoo. But the ads will also find their way to some new environments with names not well-known outside fashionista circles, sites like Kaboodle, SheFinds and Zafu.

Levi's is relying on a niche ad network distributed by Glam Media for a campaign running on about 200 small fashion sites. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A good article from Adweek that talks about how companies are using the 'Long Tail' of the web (niche web sites) in their online marketing strategy. As the article explains, these long tail networks only make up a small portion of the overall marketing plan, however they offer the ability to reach out and communicate with the strongest (potential) brand audience. For example, a typical online marketing strategy may target users who are interested in traveling to Florida, but these same users could also be interested in traveling to California, Hawaii or Arizona. By placing a marketing message on these long tail sites, brands can speak directly to the people most passionate about the theory creating trust and a grassroots feel to the campaign. And hopefully, creating a group of brand advocates who will express their passion for the product to friends and family.

What People Are Doing Online

Thoughts// A very interesting chart from Business Week based upon recent Forrester Research. The data breaks down the internet audience into six groups (Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives) and then compares each group by age. Not surprisingly, Critics and Collectors span a wide age range, while Joiners are much more focused on the younger end of the specturm. (Click the image for a detailed view)

Word of the Week - Spider(s)

A Spider (also known as a web crawler or web (ro)bot) is an automated software tool used by search engines to travel throughout the internet collecting information which it then returns to the search engine’s indices. This process is called Web crawling or spidering. Many sites, in particular search engines, use spidering as a means of providing up-to-date data.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World

It is only a matter of time until nearly all advertisements around the world are digital. Or so says David W. Kenny, the chairman and chief executive of Digitas, the advertising agency in Boston that was acquired by the Publicis Groupe for $1.3 billion six months ago.

Now Mr. Kenny is reshaping the digital advertising strategy...the plan is to build a global digital ad network that uses offshore labor to create thousands of versions of ads. Then, using data about consumers and computer algorithms, the network will decide which advertising message to show at which moment to every person who turns on a computer, cellphone or — eventually — a television. >>Full Story

Thoughts// An interesting article in today's Times about ad giant Publicis' ambitious strategy to build a "behavioral network" in hopes of delivering personalized messages to consumers, across multiple platforms. While the concept is brilliant, the proverbial "devil" might be in the details; i.e. how do you build and manage an integrated, multi-platform (TV, computer, mobile) behavioral network that profiles users' watching and surfing habits and track their response to specific ads. 1984, here we come!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Travel Trends - In-Flight Entertainment Upgrade

Virgin America's In-flight Entertainment - A great review from Artur Bergman at O'Reilly on the launch of Virgin America, specifically detailing their new in-flight entertainment device (IFE) called RED. RED will offer live satellite tv, movies, mp3s, games and plane-wide chatting. So, passengers could 'instant message' each other while in-flight (use your own imagination for what to talk about) or chat with other passengers who are watching the same program on the satellite TV. In addition, RED takes customization to a new level...passengers can build a custom playlist from the 3,000 songs on RED, then the system can save the profile and load it again when you take your next flight. If that was not enough, you can also order food and drinks from RED. Virgin America took to the skies on August 8th. | Learn more about Virgin America

American Airlines To Add Wi-Fi - American Airlines has announced that it will be the first domestic airline to begin testing in-flight Wi-Fi service via AirCell. One of the last places in the U.S. where you cannot, or are not allowed, to access the internet, the airline industry is quickly adopting the Wi-Fi idea, partially to satisfy consumer demand. If the test flights are successful, look for more domestic airlines to begin offering the same service.