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

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's December 28th, the Perfect Time For A Pre-Christmas Sale!

As I was checking my email last week, I noticed a peculiar banner ad in my peripheral vision. Which is pretty common, but from some reason this banner caught my eye...but not in a good way.

Thoughts// So, there I was, last Friday, December 28th, checking my email when I noticed this Bloomingdales banner ad. And I thought myself, 'what day is it?' Now at this point last week all of the days were running together and I was not sure what day it was. According to the banner it was December 24th, the day before Christmas.

But I seem to remember opening gifts already.

But the banner says that Bloomingdales is having a 'Right Before Christmas' sale and I can save an additional 40% off.

Wait, this can't be right. The banner must be wrong!

While this story is not exactly related to travel, it is a good lesson for anyone who runs banner ads or CPC ads or any date-sensitive ads. My immediate thought when I saw this ad, 4 days after Christmas Eve, was 'what a screw up by Bloomingdales.' However, the interactive marketer in me knows that (more than likely) Bloomingdales did not buy or flight that ad personally, there ad agency or network did. But my negative reaction and bad impression gets attributed to the company, not the faceless ad agency that is running the campaign.

We all know it is difficult to stay abreast of all advertising campaigns and executions, especially online, but if you ad is running a highly noticeable sale tied to a widely known holiday, you might want to double check the end date of the campaign.

Otherwise I (and most of your consumers) will get a bad impression of you. Design Poll - Results

Thanks, as always, to everyone who participated in our Design Poll, which asked members of the Travel 2.0: Interactive Trend Report what they thought of the new website design.

If you missed any of the posts and interviews about the new website, you can find the archives on the blog.

And the winner is:

What is your opinion of the new Visit Florida site?

Love it. - 9 (33%)
Like it. - 3 (11%)
Confused by it. - 6 (22%)
Like it, but not sure tourists will. - 3 (11%)
Don't like it. - 2 (7%)
Hate it. - 4 (14%)

An interesting mix of results...and FYI, I simply used the word 'hate' as a contrary word to 'love,' I am sure no one really 'hates' the site.

I can understand the positive and negative opinions on the design. The 'confused by it' category might be a sign that some additional education on the features of the site is needed. But, as with all websites, it really comes down to if the site delivers on its intended goal.

If it accomplishes that, it is a success.

Travel Trends - More .travel, All 50 States, Kayak

All 50 States - Forwarded onto me from Casey and the NCSTD State and Provincial Research Group (those research folks, always finding the good stuff) comes Christian Watson's un-scientific review of all 50 state travel websites. A very interesting read even though it was posted in January (yes, those that have redesigned sites, he is reviewing your old site). Additionally, please remember that this is just one person's opinion of your site...specifically his opinion on 'if your site would encourage a visitor to actually visit your state.' A limited question, but probably one that many consumers ask themselves. What is really telling about this post are the comments on the blog and the comments on the related digg article.

Here are some of my favorites:

' how come idaho's website isn't shape like a potato'

' Lovely website but just show me the darn pictures so I don't have to mouse over each one.'

'as for hawaii - i dont even think they -need- a website to get people to visit...'

'Go Kentucky!!!!'

'These sites are created by government slugs commanding other government drones. '

' Who avoids a state because of it's website? That crosses a geek line that borders insanity.'

Good stuff. Congrats all you government slugs on your fine looking websites!

More .travel - Another note on the .travel discussion we have been having over the last few weeks on the Travel 2.0: Interactive Trend Report. This summary, pulled from the Travel Advance email, comes from and suggests that my opinion on the new .travel regulations is one shared by many member of the travel industry.

Tralliance Changing Dot-Travel Rules
Tralliance, the company that controls the dot-travel Internet domain, is introducing several controversial policy changes designed to bring more Web traffic to dot-travel sites. The new policies, which remove some restrictions on who can own dot-travel domain names and impose new rules on registrants, were approved by The Travel Partnership Corp., the domain's advisory and oversight body. The policy shifts, some of which are fundamental, will take full effect in January. But one change--doing away with priority registration of place names once reserved for countries, states, cities or other destinations--became effective Dec. 21. The changes have been greeted by surprise and uncertainty by the associations and other professional organizations that, until now, have been responsible for authenticating which registrants are legitimate travel entities and thus eligible to hold specific dot-travel domain names.

Kayak Buys Sidestep - For those of you who keep an eye on the travel meta search world, industry darling and popular travel search engine Kayak is purchasing a chief rival, Sidestep, for a reported $200 million dollars (insert Dr. Evil voice here). What I find interesting from the article is the revenues that these two companies are (reportedly) pulling in...$50 million for Kayak and $35 million for Sidestep. Sounds like a good time to be in the travel business.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Top 10 Most Underappreciated Metrics To Track in 2008

This post is the continuation of a topic I started yesterday all about the right metrics to focus on and how many marketing teams may be using the wrong ones without realizing a whole, the single word that defines the old view of metrics is to focus on impressions. A more sophisticated model measures engagement or interaction (ie - a more active consumption of content). Eyeballs are not enough. So, to help you start thinking outside your typical metrics, here are some of the underappreciated metrics that I believe more brands should focus on in 2008. >>Full Story

Thoughts// A great post from Rohit Bhargava (of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide) that complements our previous posts on the Travel 2.0: Interactive Trend Report discussing what new metrics marketers should be measuring with interactive marketing campaigns. Basically, Rohit makes the same case that Mo and I have in regards to focusing greater attention to engagement, rather than impressions.

Here is a summary of his 'The Top 10 Most Underappreciated Metrics To Track in 2008':

  1. Inbound Links (from influential sources)
  2. Direct URL Access
  3. RSS Subscribers
  4. Email Link Referrals
  5. Time Spent (engagement)
  6. Organic Keyword Referrals
  7. Email Longevity and Multiple Opens
  8. Abandonment
  9. Clickstream
  10. Microsharing

And just so you can see what you can stop tracking, here are Rohit's 'The Top 10 Most Overused Metrics of 2007':

  1. Impressions
  2. Technorati Authority
  4. Trackbacks
  5. Time Spent (searching)
  6. Keyword Conversion Rate
  7. Number of Pages
  8. Email Open Rate
  9. Popover Click Rate
  10. Page Views

I would encourage you to click thru to both of Rohit's posts. He offers a good explanation of why you should and should not be tracking (or at the minimum, paying so much attention to) these metrics.

My two personal favorites are his explanations of pages views...'no list of useless metrics would be complete without (them)'...and number of pages...'more pages is not necessarily a good thing'.

Thank you Rohit. Please, everyone, stop reporting page views. They mean nothing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 Redux. Continuing the Conversation With Florida's Interactive Team.

Hello Sunshine! This is the second installation of a two part conversation with CA Clark, VP of Electronic Publishing at Miles Media, the interactive agency for VisitFlorida. Yesterday, CA responded to our initial questions about the inspiration for the design of the new VisitFlorida site and it's novel use of tag clouds as a primary navigational element (yesterday's blog is available here). Today, we're going to primarily focus on content - who manages it, how portable is it and how Florida handles the vast sea of user generated content, comments and photos.

How are your partners able to edit/add content to the site? Is the process automated or do they have to be facilitated via staff?

In a variety of ways, but the main way is via a partner extranet application that we also re-built from scratch as part of the new site. That application embraces a lot of the same technological approaches in terms of focusing on the user interface and employing AJAX and JavaScript to do as much as we can without having to reload the page.

Through the data engine, partners can add, edit and delete their property information, amenities, photos, videos, 360s, events deals and respond to comments made about their property.

I've been working exclusively in the web publishing business for 12 years and I can definitively say that this is the most complex, most complete and largest project I've ever been involved in. We had an active team of about 12 people working on various aspects of this project for over 14 months. It's been a long road, and we're really happy with the result, we hope Florida visitors will be too.

What considerations were made so that your data is portable (i.e. can be used to generate widget/gadgets on social sites)?

The whole architecture of the site is really built to be modular. Essentially all the data we've got - photos, videos, stories, trips, etc are all stored in their own silos. So if we wanted to say take the photo strip piece and turn that into a widget for use on another site, it's really just a matter of dumping the structure we already have into XML and distributing the widget. It's something we'll be looking at after launch.

The Florida site is awash with opportunities for users to contrinute their opinions and photos to the site. With so much UGC and commenting available, how are you handling the monitoring and editing of those comments? How are you handling negative comments?

We're trying to make the site both as useful and as transparent as possible. To that end, user comments are posted immediately. There are several steps to get to that point, including a illegal words filter and verification to make sure you're a human; but we felt that if users had to wait for a day to see their comments, we'd kill the whole concept of sharing. Visual content like photos and videos are a different story, before those are publicly available they need to be reviewed by a human since there's no AI I'm aware of that could accurately filter out inappropriate content. As for negative comments, they'll stay as long as they're relevant to tourism and verifiable.

Why were certain elements...text, font, color, size...selected for the site?

Obviously there are a lot of different factors that go into design, not the least of which is the branding campaign and approach of the client.

In this case, VISIT FLORIDA's "sunshine" campaign was the basis for the design and implemented in a way that we hoped wouldn't get in the way of the use of the site. Beyond that, we tried to use web-safe fonts wherever we could and minimize the number of images that had to be created and to be consistent throughout with the visual cues we provided. Most of the active stuff has the same little blue buttons, the links are all consistently formatted, titles are similarly formatted, etc.

Tell us what you think! Does the new Florida site inspire you to hit the beach? Take our online poll and give us your feedback!

Travel Trends - Google Tracking Flights, TripAdvisor

Google Including Flights In Search Results - Google gave the flying public an early Christmas present today by including flight status results within the search results. The service allows consumers to simply type in the airline and flight number into the normal Google search box and then returns the latest flight info, courtesy of (see example above). On a side note, how reassuring are those search results? Looking for an example for this post I searched for 'Southwest 75' at random and that video was the top result. Luckily, the video in question is just from a flight simulation game. Whew.

TripAdvisor Officially Launches New Design - As we reported a couple of months ago on the Interactive Trend Report, TripAdvisor has been beta-testing a new design for the popular travel review site. Over the last few days TripAdvisor made the switch-over complete and now the new design is coming up as the standard homepage for most users. While I heard a few rumblings of the site looking too similar to other OTA sites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.), it is really just a new skin on the same content (which is a good thing). Granted, a few pieces have changed, but if you compare this new version to the previous version, a majority of the content is in the same spot. Plus, the new site includes a very addictive travel game from recent TripAdvisor acquisition TravelPod. Of course, I am a geography nerd and love anything with maps and capitals.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Case Study: A Conversation With the Interactive Team

I've always been impressed with the interactive programs at Visit Florida and have developed a tremendous amount of respect for CA Clark (Vice President of Electronic Publishing) and the rest of the team at MilesMedia who work on the account. In fact, the Florida site was one of the top five inspirations for me when I started working on our programs in Oregon three years ago.

When Troy and I found out that relaunched their site this winter, we just couldn't help but chat up CA Clark for his insight into the new site. The following is part one of a two part e-mail conversation between CA and the Interactive Trend Report.

How was the design of the site used to create a positive impression of Florida?

First of all, this is really a very different approach to design than I think you would typically see on a destination site. Instead of the big header visuals, we've got a very large content area that incorporates tons of thumbnails, maps and tools. So from the start, we're not approaching this as a traditional design project. Instead we tried to look at it more like an application, which is the direction we think the web is really going. To answer your question more directly - I think we're creating a positive impression of Florida through the presentation of the content on the site - photos, videos, stories, trips, listings - rather than through the site itself. We're trying to get out of our own way and let the content speak for itself.

What websites, either travel-related or not, influenced the new site?

Lots really, the home page and tag display pages owe some to Yahoo!'s niche sites like; the trip planner borrows some from and; Kayak and Pricegrabber were both models for some of the listing display stuff that we did. There are lots more, I'm sure I'm missing some important ones. We were definitely trying to make something that was competitive not just on a destination basis, but on a broader web industry basis.

How are you, or will you, integrate the print travel guide into the site and vice versa?

The site is meant to be the primary fulfillment mechanism, so there purposely aren't a lot of references from the site back out to the guide. Having said that, the new site creates a lot of new possibilities for intertwining content between the two such as integrating the experts into the guide with references out to the site or including user-supplied photos or trips in the print products.

What do you think the reaction will be to the tag cloud navigation structure?

We did quite a bit of usability during the build, and a lot of that was focused on the navigation. What was interesting is that while the test users didn't necessarily understand what a tag was, it didn't prevent them from using the site as intended. So we changed some of our labels, but basically we found that people didn't have to understand the structure for it to be useful. So far our beta testers don't seem to have had problems either, so we're feeling pretty positive about the public reaction when we do the full release.

Tune in tomorrow for a continuation of this conversation. In the meantime, do tell us what you think about the new Florida site via our online poll (click the link to vote if reading via email or RSS). How do you feel about the use of "tag clouds" as a primary navigational element? Does the creative inspire you to hit the beach?

Monday, December 17, 2007

My 5 New Year's Interactive Resolutions

It is that time of year. As December 31st creeps ever closer, 2008 is just around the corner. At this point, most websites and blogs love to post there top 10 'whatevers' of the year...albums, TV shows, haircuts...enough of that. So, rather than post a 'top 10 things you should have done this year,' the Interactive Trend Report has decided to post 'my 5 interactive/travel resolutions' for the new this case, for the Arizona Office of Tourism.

It's pretty simple, just tell us your top 5 interactive / travel related goals for 2008. What do you want to accomplish next year? What are you planning? Let's see how many of us are planning similar projects in the new year.

You can post your top 5 by visiting this post on the blog, then scrolling to the bottom of the post and clicking on the 'Post a comment' link.

There, that is not too hard. And a whole lot easier than trying to give up Diet Coke in '08. Good luck with that one!

The Arizona Office of Tourism's Top 5 New Year's Interactive Resolutions:

5. Expand our relationship with customers via a comprehensive email program.
4. Start a consumer blog on
3. Add a substantial amount of Arizona-related content, including video, to the site.
2. Enhance our advertising methods to accurately communicate with our target consumer.
1. Determine a clear picture of our ROI with display (banner) advertising.

Photo courtesy of Flickr and Photo-Mojo.

Follow-Up: .travel

During a previous post on the Interactive Trend Report, we mentioned the recent news about the .travel domain becoming widely available to the 'larger' travel industry. While most blog subscribers read my original post, you probably missed the comments submitted by EnCirca Preseident Tom Barrett...unless you went to the blog.

So, for all of those reading Travel 2.0 via email or RSS, here are the comments from Tom and my response to the original post about .travel.

regarding .travel: the game has barely begun!

I disagree that the game is over for .travel. The game has barely begun! You are correct that search engines and .com have powerful inertia. However, the internet has a lot of growth...and change to come.

Destinations gain the most benefit with .travel. With an address like, the destination brand is in the forefront and the targeted industry is explicit. Most DMO's are too late to the party to get this with .com.

The real problem with new extensions like .travel and .jobs is that folks are unrealistic about the time it will take for these to gain critical mass (this includes the investors of the new registries). But for those who go ahead and advertise the new extension start reaping the benefits right away.

best regards,

Tom Barrett


Hello Tom,

First and foremost, thank you for your comments about the post. This is exactly the kind of dialogue that the Interactive Trend Report was designed to produce. Opening up the conversation among our peers will help grow the entire industry’s knowledge on these important topics.

Next, major kudos for using the tools provided by this blog (comments) to join the conversation. This is exactly the type of case study we have been discussing on this blog…how the travel industry can take advantage of blogs, wikis, UGC sites, etc. to promote, brand and defend there marketing programs.

You disagreed with what was said, decided to speak up and defend what you believe in, all in a very respectful and helpful manner. Plus, you signed your name at the bottom…completely transparent…fantastic! You could have easily left the post as anonymous, however it certainly would not have carried the same weight or be as beneficial to the conversation.

As a side, I am curious to know how you learned about the post. Are you using a certain blog tracking tool?

As I said in my original post, I do believe that the idea behind any .whatever extension works well on paper. In theory, the idea that any .travel domain name instantly creates recognition in the consumers mind should work.

However, who would own the domain name Or

Without extremely strong regulations for who owns the .travel domain name as well as a comprehensive public educational program…which the individual organization does not have the resources to implement…adoption of the extension will be simply a step to deter squatters.

And now that the domain registration process is being opened up to any ‘significant participants’ within the travel industry, the recognition that the .travel extension carried will be reduced further.

At that point, if .travel is not an inherent distinguisher for the general public, why not just go with .com? Granted, I might not get the exact name I wanted, but with these new regulations, the chances of getting that .travel domain are reduced as well. Plus, if you factor in the nearly $100 cost for each .travel domain, a (as low as) $1.99 .com domain looks like a tremendous value.

I personally believe that .travel could work, but only with significant changes to the regulations and a thorough educational campaign.

As the .travel process continues to more forward, I encourage you to provide updates to the Interactive Trend Report. I, as well as the readers, would be interested to hear about the progress.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Study Finds Online Reviews A Powerful Tool

Do travel and other consumers use online reviews? Yes. Are they willing to pay more for high ratings? Yes. So says a recent study that found consumers were willing to pay at least 20% more for services receiving "excellent" or 5-star rating opposed to those receiving "good" or 4-star ratings. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Ok. If you're already a subscriber to this blog, chances are you're already drunk on the user-generated-social-media-web-2.o concoction Troy and I have been eagerly serving. But in case you happen to be someone who has never researched a trip online or purchased something on E-Bay and Amazon...YES it's true! All the hoopla about user generated content and reviews maybe right after all.

According to a recent study conducted by the Kelsey Group, 25% of consumers reported using online reviews for a service delivered offline and a significant portion of these consumers subsequently "converted" by either eating at a restaurant or staying at a hotel. More importantly however, consumers are willing to pay 20% more for brands receiving extremely good reviews from like minded consumers. Again not a very big surprise. But as more destinations start building "fan" sites such as, and, this study is yet another validation that we're on the right path. Now the challenge before us all is how do we sustain our communities?

Travel Trends - .travel, JetBlue, Privacy

.travel To Open Up Registration (Read, we need money) - Like a few of you, I received an email this week from EnCirca or the company one of the companies behind the .travel domain extension. The email basically stated that as of December 21st anybody with a travel related business can apply for a .travel domain name. The email itself was pretty comical, with lines such as 'anticipated December 21 Land Rush for .travel' or '.travel domain names are ideal for search engine marketing.' Good stuff.

While the .travel domain idea looked good on paper and in theory, it has not worked as designed in the real world. People have not caught onto the idea that a domain extension such as .biz, .travel or .jobs is the same as .com. Seriously, most people cannot even grasp the concept of .net, let alone .travel or .asia. With search engines becoming more than just a simple website, but an embedded action in our thought process for locating information, the need for a certain domain name and domain extension is dwindling.

Now, if you are like the Arizona Office of Tourism, you might own a few of these key domain names...such as to prevent someone from squatting or worse, using that domain in an undesirable manner. But you can call off the plans to switch over your whole advertising campaign and interactive strategy to It's already over...before it really got started.

JetBlue Goes Wireless - As we have discussed previously on the Interactive Trend Report, the next big frontier for in-flight entertainment, or annoyance depending on your point-of-view, is in-flight wireless access. Earlier this month, JetBlue announced a basic pilot program (no pun intended) to test wireless access aboard one of there Airbus A320 jets, dubbed BetaBlue (how clever). While this service will be a reality for airline passengers in the near-future, it appears that JetBlue's wi-fi still has a few bugs to be worked out. But, with American Airlines, Virgin America, and Alaska Airlines all preparing to launch wireless access during the next year, you are not too far away from checking your email from 40,000ft. Or at least checking your favorite blog...this one!

People Don't Truly Care About Privacy - A very good post from Seth Godin, discusses the some of the latest news surrounding the idea of internet privacy and privacy in general, and why people don't really care about it. To quote from the post:

There's been a lot of noise about privacy over the last decade, but what most pundits miss is that most people don't care about privacy, not at all.

If they did, they wouldn't have credit cards. Your credit card company knows an insane amount about you.

What people care about is being surprised.

Exactly. Facebook's attempt at targeted ads encountered vocal opposition because the private information being collected was being used in an irresponsible manner...i.e., they surprised people. We all know we are being watched, just don't remind us of it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Who is Clicking on Your Banners...
Probably a middle-aged, sweepstakes-loving, Midwestern woman who likes junk mail and the Packers

Advertising is the bread and butter of the web, yet most of my friends claim that they never click on ads, typically using a peacock tone that signals their pride in being ad-averse. The geekier amongst them go out of their way to run Mozilla scripts to scrape ads away, bemoaning the presence of consumer culture. Yet, companies increasingly rely on ad revenue to turn a profit and, while clicking on ads may be declining, it certainly hasn't gone away. This raises a critical question: Who are the people that click on ads? >>Full Story

Thoughts// Okay, so maybe they are not all Green Bay Packers fans. But according to some recent data from AOL they are probably middle-aged women from the Midwest. This story, which highlights those findings, asks the question how and why social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook rely so heavily on this type of advertising for revenue. And, since we all seem to 'hate' ads, who actually does click these ads?

While this conversation is very interesting on its own, it does lead nicely into another conversation I have been having internally over the past few weeks...what type of measurement stats should we be monitoring? If the majority of the clicks are coming from one, single demo, how valuable are those clicks? If the clicks don't lead to a conversion, should you value those clicks the same as ones that do?

To steal a quote from the article 'the ad world is obsessed with clicks because they can measure those.'

As more and more reasons mount to move away from the page view statistic (see online video, AJAX) and as this trend begins to come into the mainstream (see Nielsen/NetRatings dropping the page view stat in favor of time spent) we as marketers need to begin looking at different metrics to help measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.

Tangible statistics or, as Mo's team at Travel Oregon likes to say, engagement statistics such as (for a DMO) guides / brochures ordered, time spent on pages, time spent on key pages, search terms, downloads, email database sign-ups, blog stats or account-based pages used in conjunction with visitors and unique visitor metrics can begin to reveal a more realistic picture of who and what your website consumers actually are and what they are doing.

With that kind of information and data, you can actually start advertising and marketing to your target audience rather than everyone.

Travel Trends - Delta, Sweden, Ad Agencies, TripIt

Planeguage from Delta - Delta and, who have been rapidly adopting to some of the latest interactive trends since emerging from bankrupcy, (see Delta SiteSeer Challenge, Delta SiteSeer Video and Under the Wing) have just launched a series of short, animated videos titled 'Planeguage.' The videos put a humorous spin on some of the most common challenges/hassles of airline travel. You can view the first video above or, if reading via email/rss, view the video online.

Personally, I think the videos are fantastic, from the intro music to the characters to the stories, and the spots appear to be a great way to create a viral marketing campaign around the new Delta brand. Notice that the videos are already on YouTube, and in the case of the one above, have been viewed 10,000+ times. While the videos themselves are entertaining, it will be interesting to see if consumer response is 'that is creative and fun' or 'so they are telling me they have no room on there planes.' Communicating with consumers online, what a tricky endeavor.

Community of Sweden
- Always under the radar, those Swedes have been busy. Visit Sweden has just introduced what it is calling the 'Community of Sweden', the ' the official online community for Sweden,' where visitors can 'share and enjoy photos, travel stories tips and more from friends in Sweden and all over the world.' Think of it as it MySpace for people who love traveling to Sweden. As numerous DMOs begin to experiment in the UGC / Social Networking space, look for more of these communities to begin appearing. Hands down, the best feature of the site is the fantastic flash map / update tool on the homepage. Great execution on the map.

Forrester: Web Shops Not Ready to Lead
- During the recent HSMAI Internet Marketing Strategy Conference, which I attended last Monday, one of the topics brought up by the attendees was what the ad agency of the future looks like. The popular answer was that the ad agency of the future has a deeper understanding of the interactive world with a solid background of 'traditional' advertising. While several interactive / online agencies are getting closer to this ideal situation, it would appear...according to this report...that we still have a while to go.

TripIt Is In Sync With You - Semantic Web here we come. Travel planning service TripIt...introduced to the blog a few months ago...has launched a new service that will automatically sync your travel plans with your calendar such as Office, iCal, Google, etc. So, no more manually entering your travel dates into the calendar, TripIt does it for you. Just as a refresher, the 'hook' of TripIt is that you can forward your confirmation email to the service, which will automatically create a complete trip itinerary for you. Convenient.

New Mexico Ad Campaign Poll - Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in our New Mexico Ad Campaign Poll, which asked the members of this blog to voice their opinion on the recent story about the New Mexico 'alien' ad campaign.

If you missed any of the posts you can read them here: New Mexico Ad Campaign Posts

Now for the results:

Does the New Mexico Ad Campaign effectively promote the state?

Yes - 5 (26%)
Yes, but it could have a stronger New Mexico focus - 4 (21%)
No - 0 (0%)
No, but it does stand out from other ads - 10 (52%)

It would appear that we all agree that the ads stood out from the typical travel marketing message, but the group is split (9/10) on whether or not the campaign effectively promoted the state.

It looks like we will just have to wait for the results of the campaign to pass a final judgment on it's the rest of the travel industry in New Mexico.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Putting the 'I' in Viral Makes Web Ads Infectious

Go munk, elf or scrooge yourself; everyone else is. Viral campaigns that ask consumers to add their own picture or voice to a person or animal have yielded substantial results for brands like OfficeMax, Purina and Careerbuilder. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Not totally travel related but a recent article in BrandWeek recently examined the popularity of ads that compel consumers to add their photos or voices into campaigns. Apparently we're all egotistical because these campaigns are extremely popular! Consider:

  • Burger King's "Simpsonize Me" has generated over 77 million page views and 40 million photos have been "Simpsonized"
  • 9.5 million elves bearing faces have been created on (ok, I'll admit I created mine just for this blog!)
  • 1 million "doggie emails" have been created on

While these campaigns are definitely fun and create good buzz for your brand, I am wondering if there are conversion studies that gauge how they impact the bottom line? For example, I was a huge fan of the "Snakes on Plane" promotion where your friends get a personalized (pre-recorded) phone call from Samuel L. Jackson...however, I never saw (nor do I intend to see) the movie.

Score One for Consumers....

Under mounting pressure from its community and various consumer privacy groups, Facebook has moved to scale back its ambitious plans to publish accounts of its user’s purchases and other commercial actions publicly to their various friend groups. As of late Thursday, Facebook users must now proactively consent to alert friends whenever they take various actions, such a renting a DVD or purchasing a pair of sneakers. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Would you like your social network of friends alerted about every recipe you've saved on, every flight you've booked on Travelocity or every movie purchase on Fandango? Facebook's controversial new ad platform "Beacon" was supposed to do just that...essentially telling your friends about your "vote of confidence" for these brands; and yes, these brands have a partnership with Facebook.

Sound big brother to you? More than 50,000 Facebook users did. In the face of a flurry of protests by both users and privacy groups, Facebook has scaled back the program. Users now have to explicitly give permission (opt in) before their purchases are announced to the world.

I suppose we could forgive Facebook for this misstep. In the midst of a meteoric growth in terms of users, third party applications and not to mention it's "media darling" status, perhaps Facebook forgot the carnal rule of digital's PERMISSION based!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Travel Trends - My Location, Talking Outdoor

When Outdoor Talks Back - A great post from MediaPost's Mobile Insider blog talks about a deal between outdoor giant Clear Channel and Bluetooth content provider Qwikker that will allow thousands of outdoor ads to talk to your phone. Basically, if you and your Bluetooth enabled phone come close enough to a certain ad, say a subway transit board, a signal will be sent from the board to your phone, asking you to interact with the ad...perhaps via a download or message (similar to the popular RFID ads used by Mini earlier this year, pictured). But before your start avoiding bus shelters and subways, remember that this type of technology will be (more than likely) permission based. Now that is an interactive ad.

Google Maps Launches My Location - Earlier this month, Google Maps...who are slowing mapping everyone and everything...launched another product offering called My Location. My Location will allow cell phone users, with or without a GPS-enabled phone, to see a real-time representation of their location on a (Google) map. Sounds good, might be interesting. But the real benefit for Google is the integrated advertising opportunity that this technology creates.

Let's say you use Google for mobile search (or online search) and they know you have searched for a pizza restaurant in Scottsdale. So, the next time you are physically near that pizza restaurant, Google sends you a text message coupon for that restaurant. Or if you are near a certain store, Target for example, Google can send you an ad or message relating to that store.

Considering the shear amount of usable data gathered by both providers and application creators (such as this one) as well as its wide-spread use, this type of mobile advertising could create some extremely targeted advertising opportunities for marketers.

I Never Thought I Would Say It, But I Can't Read This Ad

As I was reading a few online news sites the other day, I came across this ad for the Italian Government Tourism Board.

Thoughts// While the creative execution is fine...what troubled me was the size of the text at the bottom of the ad. I can't read it...and I am 27 with good eyesight. Granted, I run my monitor at a 1280 x 800 resolution (that means my text is tiny), I would still think that the majority of people have a tough time reading this ad. Let alone if they actually wanted to read the text.

So, the lesson here is to think about the monitor size of users viewing your ads. Not everyone is using the same screen size as you or your designer.

There you go, I never thought I would say it, but...I can't read that ad.