The Value of Intent-Based Audiences: Grandma Likes Beer, Too!

Everyone loves vacation. However, vacation means something different to everyone. Some people like to hike, bike, and sweat. That sounds like hell to other people. The reasons why people choose to travel differ. And guess what? Those reasons have nothing to do with how many candles were on your last birthday cake or how fat your wallet is. The 1950s called and they want their marketing strategy back. Use intent-based audiences instead of demographics.

Targeting people by age, race, income, or gender alone isn’t just old-school. It’s ineffective. Building your marketing program around antiquated perceptions of people based on their demographics is a huge missed opportunity. That type of strategy disregards people who would be interested in visiting your destination.

Using intent-based audiences will maximize the visitations. By focusing on WHY people travel, you will reach travelers who travel based on their interests—like beer-loving grandmas.

As a full-service agency, we infuse intent-based audiences into every element of our partners’ marketing. From strategy to creative to media, every element will benefit.    

Successful Strategy

Build your strategy around why people travel. This approach leads to tactics that more strongly resonate. Your storytelling will be more engaging. Your media plan will more effectively reach people. The entire experience will speak directly to the decision making factors of your target audiences—leading to more trust and higher conversions. 

For example, our partner Atlanta CVB wanted their website to have a more personalized experience for their users. We began by analyzing the different reasons people visited Atlanta, and segmenting their target audience into eight intent-based audiences: 

  • Family Vacation
  • Last-Minute Weekend Getaway
  • Off-the-Beaten Path Experiences
  • Culinary Tour
  • Arts and Culture Trip
  • Sports Fan
  • Attending a Conference
  • Meeting Planning

From there, everything we did was built around these eight intent-based audiences. We tailored the site map to these audiences and created content that spoke directly to why they travel. Then, we integrated personalization technology that would recommend content to users based on how their behavior on the website. This strategy led to higher engagement from users:

  • 58% increase in pages per session
  • 30% increase in page views
  • 7% improvement in bounce rate
  • 6% increase in average session duration

Adjacent Advertising

Using intent-based audiences to build out your digital marketing strategy allows you to capture prospective traveler’s attention adjacent to what they are already doing. For example, someone shopping on Amazon for hiking boots would see destination specific hiking ads. The adjacency of the ad to their actions in that very moment improves performances and lowers the interruption threshold that advertising often has.

You can then move from that captured intent to expanding their view of multiple other activities they could engage with in the destination. You grow their intent by connecting them to adjacent intents—hiking and breweries; wine and fine dining with quiet beaches; etc. Once you understand their original intention to travel, the broadening of activities helps encourage travel to the destination during their consideration phase.

Engaging Creative

Your storytelling will be more engaging. Guided by your audience’s interests, you will know what destination attractions to highlight. Your creative assets and content will be tailored to speak directly to people’s travel interests. This compels people to see themselves in your destination. 

For example, our partner Visit Independence was creating a new Paranormal Path campaign. The campaign highlighted three allegedly haunted locations. In the process of developing storytelling for the campaign, we saw an opportunity to create content that would resonate with Visit Independence’s “history buff” intent-based audience. 

We consulted with local historians and created a dynamic blog post that told the real-life stories behind the hauntings. We developed a presentation layer that integrated period photography and old newspaper clippings. This gave readers the ability to investigate the people who inspired the ghost stories. Our work on Visit Independence’s Paranormal Path campaign was awarded a 2020 Gold HSMAI Adrian Award in the integrated marketing campaign category for its overall destination marketing excellence.

Smarter Media Tactics

Intent-based audiences lead to more impactful media buying. Budget won’t be wasted targeting people unlikely to visit. Just because a person seems like they were grown in a lab to perfectly match your target demographics doesn’t mean they will want to travel to your destination. Targeting people by likely to visit is a smarter use of resources. 

For example, our partner Traverse City is located on Lake Michigan. Their destination’s top experiences are related to outdoor recreation. So, we created an intent-based audience that included people in key drive markets who had recently purchased outdoor recreation equipment or showed interest in outdoor recreation based on their online behavior. This audience was then targeted with outdoor recreation specific creative and CTAs—generating over 26,000 attributed room nights during the summer of 2020.

Bigger Impact

Cavemen marketing programs built around demographics alone must evolve. Creating intent-based audiences around the reasons why people travel is more effective and efficient. Developing your strategy around them will lead to:

  • Smarter media tactics that reach people more likely to visit
  • Better leads that cut across gender, race, and age
  • More engaging storytelling that strongly resonates
  • Less wasted budget that was previously spent on targets unlikely to visit

Added together, intent-based audiences drive a higher ROI and maximizes the collective impact your organization has on your community. That calls for cracking a cold one with Grandma!

2020 HSMAI Adrian Award Client Wins

Madden is proud to announce 5 of our clients earned 2020 HSMAI Adrian Awards in recognition of their tourism marketing excellence! The HSMAI Adrian Awards recognize hospitality brands and agencies for creativity and innovation in advertising, digital marketing, and public relations.

Help us give a round of applause to our amazing clients!

  • Visit Independence, MO – Gold award
  • Discover Atlanta, GA – Silver award
  • Go Lake Havasu, AZ – Silver award
  • Discover Crystal River, FL – Bronze award
  • Tampa Bay, FL – Bronze award

“Haunted Independence” – Paranormal Path

Visit Independence received a Gold award in the Digital Marketing – Integrated Market Campaign for Consumers B2C category. This campaign was built around the Paranormal Path Tour of Vaile Mansion, Bingham-Waggoner Estate, and the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum.

The goal was to pay homage to the destination’s history while differentiating Visit Independence from its competitors and creating an attraction for a niche audience that had not previously been interested in visiting the area. Madden’s Creative and Content team crafted eerie, cinematic videos that paired spooky visuals from the properties with creepy voice-overs from the perspective of the ghosts that some believe haunt the locations.

Madden then ran a combination of paid digital advertising strategies to target drive markets, intent-based, and affinity-based audiences interested in paranormal related subject matter. The Paranormal Path was a giant success both quantitatively and qualitatively — exceeding all KPIs and generating high engagement and enthusiasm from visitors and social media users.

Make sure to check out the landing page below which includes all the other haunted videos.

DiscoverAtlanta.com

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau won a Silver award in the Digital Marketing – Web Site category for its innovative work on their website relaunch. Discover Atlanta partnered with Madden to replace its MarTech platform to position it for future digital channels and integrate natural language processing (NLP) to recommend articles to visitors for a more personalized experience. Together we created a new website that drives inspiration and generates engagement with its focus on design, detailed key audiences, storytelling, diversity and inclusion, and automatic tagging and categorization.

Go Lake Havasu – “Find Your Element”

Go Lake Havasu won a Silver award for it’s “Find Your Element” Brand Campaign in the Digital Marketing – Integrated Market Campaign for Consumers B2C category.

Go Lake Havasu was looking for a brand refresh and the Creative team at Madden went to work by elevating their brand with a new, integrated brand campaign titled “Find Your Element in Arizona’s Playground.”

This aspirational theme was pulled into multiple components including TV commercials, a wide range of digital ads, and a robust website content strategy to drive consumers down the purchase funnel and generate maximum engagement and visitation.

The media strategy used both network TV (generating 7.2 million impressions) and a series of digital media tactics to target select groups.

Discover Crystal River – “Step Into Awesome”

Discover Crystal River won a Bronze award for it’s “Step Into Awesome” Brand Campaign in the Digital Marketing – Integrated Market Campaign for Consumers B2C category.

Crystal River, Florida is fortunate to have one of the most amazing yet fragile natural assets that any destination could wish for—manatees. Our charge was to continue to position Citrus County and Crystal River as the Manatee capital of the world through not just marketing, but through education, conservation, and protection of the manatee for generations to come.

We set out to highlight the emotions travelers feel in the destination. We developed visuals of the one-of-a-kind experiences Crystal River offers—delicious food, up-close manatee interactions, world-class fishing. These experiences were brought to life through thrilling video, inspiring photography, and dynamic blog content.

We deployed an omni-channel marketing strategy to promote the “Step Into
Awesome” brand during different stages of the Traveler’s Journey and to create an integrated brand ecosystem. This included display ads, social ads, dynamic blog posts, online video ads, and television ads.

Visit Tampa Bay “Florida’s Most” SEM Campaign

Visit Tampa Bay won a Bronze award in the Digital Marketing – Search Marketing Strategy category.

To help drive visitors to the Tampa Bay market, increase hotel revenue, and drive attraction ticket sales, Madden Media and Visit Tampa Bay developed a SEM strategy of building intent-based audiences to target with SEM tactics. This strategy included targeting prospective travelers with a first touch based on interest, intent, geography, search history, and other indicators of being a potential traveler. Based on how users interacted with the first touch, Madden created intent-based audiences, which were then leveraged for a second touch. Users interaction with that second touch was used to further develop additional audiences to target with specific calls-to-action through SEM.

Madden Media and Visit Tampa Bay leveraged data from two key sources to inform our SEM campaign, UberMedia human movement data and original research from Visit Tampa Bay’s bi-annual traveler surveys.

Results: Calendar Year January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019

  • Over 500,000 clicks (34% YOY increase)
  • 12.6% click through rate (14% YOY increase)
  • SEM accounted for 20% of VisitTampaBay.com’s overall website traffic (25% YOY increase)

 

2021 Destination Marketing Trends

As you create and execute your 2021 campaigns, these are the marketing trends to keep in mind. Madden is always happy to talk strategy, provide insight, and share recommendations with our tourism partners. Above all, these are the seven trends we’re keeping an eye on this year.

Marketing Trend #1: Vaccination Availability = Spike in Travel

This marketing trend is pretty straightforward—as more COVID-19 vaccines become available, more people will travel. Google recently reported that keywords such as “hotel booking app” and “travel to” have increased 100% YOY. Similarly, in January 2021, Destination Analysts reported that “just under half of American travelers expect to travel for leisure in the next three months.” Many destinations have been waiting for travelers to pack their bags, but are they prepared for a sudden increase in visitors? 

What you can do right now

  • First, invest in marketing for 2021 leisure travel considerations amongst existing audiences.
  • Second, grow new audiences with high-intent and pent-up demand using awareness and inspiration tactics.
  • Third, make sure your partners continue to promote safety measures and keep travelers informed.

Marketing Trend #2: Inspiration Tactics Continue to Climb

Travelers are starting to think about trips they want to take in a post-COVID world. Conversion is important, but shouldn’t be your only focus. Travelers continue to be open to vacation inspiration, providing DMOs the opportunity to target new audiences. In addition, inspiring content establishes awareness and replenishes brand audiences for future marketing efforts. Above all, Madden partners who are providing vacation inspiration are seeing stronger results than those investing primarily in conversion tactics.

What you can do right now

Invest in highly visual channels such as:

  • CTV
  • YouTube/TrueView
  • TV
  • Social Ads 
  • Google Discovery Ads
  • OOH

Marketing Trend #3: Foundational Recovery Tactics Reach Key Targets

Your 2021 foundational marketing tactics need to reach prospective travelers through the channels they’re responding to the most. For example, we’re seeing:

  • More Screen Time: Since shelter at home orders began in 2020, Nielsen reports that consumers are spending 60% more time streaming videos, reading digital content, and scrolling through social media. Provide the distraction and inspiration they’re looking for by advertising on key platforms and creating storytelling content.
  • More Print Consumption: Working from home on top of increased screen time means more consumers are looking for a break from blue light. However, printed magazines offer an entertaining escape, giving destinations the opportunity to connect with travelers via direct mail or national/regional publications.
  • More Email Engagement: Consumers have had 20% stronger open rates following the pandemic. Reach leads directly in their inboxes and show them what you have to offer. Grow and nurture owned leads as your destination recovers.

What you can do right now

Consider these tactics for your media mix:

  • Search & Social: SEM, SEO, Facebook, & Instagram
  • Online Content: Owned, Paid, Earned
  • Streaming: CTV, Samsung
  • Email: Owned, Paid
  • Print: National and Regional Travel and Lifestyle Magazines 

Marketing Trend #4: Outdoor-Focused Keywords in Website Content

Now’s the time to build fresh content to be there for continued trending searches and discovery of anything related to outdoors, road-trippin’, or supporting local businesses. Similarly, travel searches such as “weekend getaways,” “day trips from,” “weekend trips,” “lake trip,” and “vacations near me” are starting to rebound after an unprecedented drop in March 2020. In addition, consider these trending keywords:

  • outdoors
  • camping
  • rv rentals
  • ski condos/cabins
  • boat charter
  • regional parks and gardens
  • fishing boats
  • kayaks
  • road trips
  • staycations
  • local businesses

What you can do right now

  • Start by adding new content to your site that heavily focuses on trending keywords related to your destination.
  • Next, read our COVID-19 Website Strategies blog post for additional strategies.

Marketing Trend #5: The Buzz Surrounding Sequence Targeting

This destination marketing trend is near and dear to our hearts. Sequence targeting allows you to tell a progressive story with your ads. Typically this is done through adding some variety to your video marketing. For example, you can tell your destination’s story across multiple video ads to nurture curiosity and for stronger brand recall.

Sequence targeting reduces ad fatigue. Using different visuals to tell your story across CTV, YouTube, and social ads keeps audiences interested in your message. Another benefit of this strategy is that you can promote a consistent brand message across multiple channels. With new audiences established in awareness and inspiration, you can continue the conversation to promote consideration in remarketing.

What you can do right now

  • Create a miniseries of ads for rotation so consumers don’t see the same ad creative at each touchpoint.
  • Meanwhile, avoid reusing the same singular ads across all channels—add a variety of image and messaging combinations.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a video shoot that will tell a progressive story. Think about how to make a greater impact using shorter ad spots that encourage action.

Marketing Trend #6: Consumers are Looking for Amazing Digital Experiences

To better capture the attention of key audiences, you need to deliver great UX across all of your marketing efforts. In other words, the brand digital experience has become more important than ever.

What you can do right now

  • Make incremental website improvements to better engage with consumers. For example, this could mean virtual tours, quiz-style content, new animations, or interactive elements. Check out our case study on Next Generation Destination Websites for more ideas.
  • Brainstorm creative ways to approach standard marketing tactics. How can you better showcase your brand’s personality on social media? Can you think of a new way to utilize HTML5 ads?
  • However, don’t forget about event planners! Use this time to create videos, share photos, and provide visual resources.

Marketing Trend #7: Meetings Marketing = Slower Recovery

While leisure travel is slowly gaining momentum, meetings travel will take longer to recover from the pandemic. Consequently, we’re seeing small group in-person meetings planned for Q3/Q4 of 2021 in addition to larger virtual meetings.

Major hotel brands project mid to late 2022 as the return of bigger group settings. According to a survey completed by iMeet, “at the start of the year, more than half of planners (56%) have RFPs in progress.” As a result, “85% of planners have at least one future face-to-face meeting booked or contracted.”

What you can do right now

  • First, don’t stop your meetings marketing despite this slow recovery—2022 will be here before we know it. Given how far in advance large meetings are booked, your team should be preparing and selling now.
  • Second, build up your meetings content to showcase your commitment to providing safe environments for meeting planners and attendees.
  • Third, review your RFP process and documentation and find opportunities to make contacting your team easier.

What Should You Do First?

We’ve discussed a bunch of strategies and action items to help you capitalize on 2021’s destination marketing trends. However, we’ve provided our recommended priority list:

  1. Update your site content
  2. Refine visitor’s website experience
  3. Increase inspiration across all channels
  4. Promote small group meetings
  5. Focus conversion tactics on road trip audiences

Madden’s destination strategy experts are ready to chat about any of these marketing trends. Please reach out to our team with any questions.

Own Your Data: Prepare for the Death of Cookies and Other Privacy Changes

Privacy changes are making it harder to rely on third-party data. Destinations must adjust their marketing strategies in response to the death of third-party cookies and other new privacy policies. It’s time to optimize your marketing strategy toward leveraging your own analytics by collecting your own first-party data. 

Data privacy changes have been incrementally put into practice over the years. The GDPR implementation in 2018 marked a major milestone for user privacy regulations, and since then, more policy changes have gone into effect. This year brings with it two big changes: iOS 14 privacy updates (implemented in January) and Google removing third-party cookies from Chrome (coming later this year).

Destinations will still be able to leverage their existing analytics provided by first-party cookies, such as Google Analytics and Google Ads global site tag. However, the iOS 14 updates and the removal of third-party cookies will have a major impact on destination marketing. Madden’s media experts recommend destinations take the following steps to ensure your marketing impact is not suppressed. 

Understand the Digital Marketing Effects

In order to respond to these changes, destinations must first know how privacy changes will affect their existing marketing programs. 

Smaller Remarketing Pool

Third-party cookies going away means website visitors who were previously moved to a remarketing pool from third-party pixels or trackers will no longer be captured. The iOS 14 updates also mean if users opt out of having their data collected on the Facebook App, they too will no longer be moved to a remarketing pool. However, you will still be able to retarget users from your first-party data. 

Vague Lookalike Audiences

The practice of creating lookalike audiences from third-party data will be less precise.Third-party cookies will no longer capture website visitors or users who opt-out of having their data collected. This means your lookalike audiences will be based on incomplete data if they are solely created from third-party data. 

Less Understanding of Targets

Data collected from third-party cookies enable destinations to understand their target audiences’ interests and behaviors. This creates the opportunity to deliver tailored messages that are more likely to resonate. Without that data, destinations are left in the dark about their targets’ specific interests and unsure whether messages are compelling them to visit. 

Decrease in Reported Conversions

While your tactics will be driving users to your website, your tracking will no longer capture all related metrics. It’s important to know that it is not necessarily a reflection of ineffective tactics. The decrease will likely be due to users opting out of having their activity data captured.

How to Respond to Privacy Changes

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are things you can do ahead of these updates to counter any potential negative impacts. Destinations must rely on more first-party data. Here are ways to optimize your strategy towards generating leads and respond to privacy changes. 

Integrate Lead Generation on Your Website

Having users opt-in and share their data will garner more robust leads for your organization. By including pop-up banners, calls-to-action, or always-on lead forms on your website, you can collect first party data and build up your own database. Destinations should also look to optimize these tactics by conducting A/B tests and determining which methods and messages most effectively generate leads. 

Develop a Smarter Database

How valuable is the data in your database? Is all the information accurate? Do your leads actively engage with your content? Do you have detailed information about your leads’ interests? These are the types of questions your team should ask when scrutinizing its database. If your leads don’t provide your team enough information to execute targeted marketing tactics, then you must adjust your lead generation strategy to cultivate more detailed leads.

It’s not enough to collect names and email addresses. Your lead generation tactics should make clear to users that you’re asking for their information so you can send content they find relevant. This means collecting information about why they like to travel, their desired experiences, and what they look for when deciding which destination they visit. At the same time, it’s important not to ask too many questions—especially open ended questions—in a single form. Users tend to opt out if forms are cumbersome and time consuming. You can always use information from one always-on form to send additional surveys or follow up forms to users via email. Your strategy should aim to build relationships with your targets.

Leverage Emerging Technologies

DMOs, CVBs, and other destination marketing entities are not the only organizations that are responding to privacy changes. Google is actively working with its clients to find innovative solutions like Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) and FLEDGE to provide privacy-preserving alternatives for reaching audiences. 

Equipped with Your Own Data

While the death of third-party cookies and privacy policy changes will affect destination marketing strategies, there’s no reason it should cause disruption. By putting the above strategies into practice, destinations will be able to better inform decision making and compel their target audiences to visit. The insight derived from managing your own database and generating quality leads will also enable a more effective omni-channel approach. 

While privacy policies primarily affect paid digital making tactics, the adjustments your organization makes in response will benefit your entire integrated marketing strategy. The quality data you collect will feed into every tactic and result in more effective content marketing, organic social, landing pages, and messaging. For this reason, destinations should not view these privacy changes as an obstacle to overcome, but as an opportunity to evolve your marketing efforts. 

How iOS 14 Privacy Changes Impact Your Facebook Marketing

Apple’s and Facebook’s advertising platforms are ubiquitous for DMOs. New iOS 14 privacy changes and their effects on Facebook marketing will put limitations on the ability to track ROI on Apple devices. And while this update is still new and Facebook is still developing solutions, we will help you through it. 

Also read our latest insights about how iOS 15 privacy changes impact your email marketing.

What’s Changed?

Data Nutrition Label

All apps must submit information about their app’s data collection practices.

Tracking Transparency Prompt

App Store apps, including Facebook, must ask users for permissions to track them across third-party apps and websites.

Tracking via App/Browser APIs

Facebook and other platforms will need to use a new framework that restricts, aggregates, and delays event reporting.

Conversion Window

There will now be a seven day delay on attributions. 

What’s the Impact?

Reporting metrics will be more limited. This will lead to under-reporting on metrics. 

 If users opt-out of having their data collected, advertisers will have limited access to data on conversion events. For example, web traffic from the Facebook app to an advertiser’s website will no longer be captured if the user has opted out. Advertisers will also be limited to tracking eight conversion events.

Advertisers should prepare to:

  • Operate and define the priority of a maximum of 8 Pixel events per domain
  • Anticipate changes to attribution windows and update automated rules if necessary
  • Prepare for attribution window changes (deprecation of 28-day click-through, 28-day view-through, and 7-day view-through windows)
  • Identify campaign optimization strategies that may require testing such as alternative audience options or different bidding strategies

How Does This Affect DMOs?

Expect a Decrease in Events and Reported Conversions

While the changes will lead to fewer conversion events being captured, it’s important to know that it is not a reflection of ineffective tactics. The decrease will likely be due to users opting out of having their activity data captured.

Smaller Remarketing Pool

When users opt out of having their data collected on the Facebook App, it creates a smaller pool of users advertisers are able to target with remarketing ads. 

(Maybe) Fewer Conversion Metrics

Advertisers will be limited to tracking eight conversion events on the Facebook app. DMOs don’t typically have that many conversions events, as this change is more specific to e-commerce advertisers. However, DMOs will have to streamline their tracked conversion events if they currently have more than eight they measure. 

How Should DMOs Respond?

Claim Your Domain

The first step Facebook recommends is claiming your domain on Facebook Business Manager.

Install Facebook’s Conversion API 

Released last year, this is designed to replicate much of the functionality of the Facebook PIXEL for tracking and measurement, except it is server-based rather than browser-based. Facebook recommends leaving both the browser-based pixel installation and Conversion API installed and let Facebook remove duplicates. 

Install Server-Side Tag Management

Clients that have a tag management solution to manage their pixels and additional scripts for their website, like Google Tag Manager, should consider server-side tag management.

Optimize Your Strategy

Earn the Opt-In 

Earn users trust and get them to opt in to having their data collected. Communicate that users’ data gives you the ability to create an engaging experience tailored to their interests. Be respectful and protective of their data—never misuse or share data with third parties. 

Review Existing Goals and KPIs

Don’t set yourself up for failure. Do not maintain existing KPI benchmarks or goals based on hitting certain thresholds in metrics that will be impacted.

Create Organic Strategies

Capturing metrics from paid tactics on Facebook will be more challenging. Rethink how you are using the platform and strategize ways to increase organic engagement.

Omni-channel Approach

Digital channels will remain at the forefront of media plans, but DMOs should also look to leverage traditional, out of home, and SEM tactics to complement their strategy. DMOs should also include PR and content marketing to ensure a holistic media approach.

Continue to Communicate Impact

While Facebook’s engagement metrics might go down due to the privacy changes, we know our partners’ impact is not decreasing. Destinations must evolve their KPIs to move beyond traditional campaign metrics. 

Madden provides our partners with destination intelligence modules that include data on visitations and tourism-related revenue. Your work has always been more than clicks and impressions. You should align your measurement program to capture impact metrics like visitors from key markets, hotel tax revenue, and in-destination spending. This approach will create a more holistic measurement strategy. 

Madden is helping our partners through this transition, and is standing by to help assist any DMO evolve their digital marketing programs to respond to the new iOs 14 updates. We’re here to work through ongoing media changes and optimize reporting to keep proving your organization’s value.

Read more about how to develop your Facebook marketing strategy.

Reimagine Leisure Tourism Marketing in the COVID-19 Era

National Plan for Vacation Day (January 26, 2021) marks the annual day DMOs across the country can encourage travelers to plan their next trip and consider their destinations. This day is about consumers planning for future travel. DMOs should look to spark travelers’ imaginations by reimagining their leisure tourism marketing. This ensures their communities will be top of mind when people plan their next trip during the era of COVID-19. 

We all need something to look forward to this year. Right now, people are dreaming of their next vacation, looking forward to seeing friends and family, and thinking of their first trip once they are ready to travel. This is a prime opportunity for DMOs to guide their audience decision making and drive visitations to their destinations.

So, how can DMOs reimagine their marketing strategies during the pandemic while promoting National Plan for Vacation Day to compel leisure travelers to visit? Madden recommends these three ways DMOs can reimagine their leisure marketing strategies.

Target Remote Workers

Many people are no longer working in an office. Freed of the requirements of physically being in a specific location to work, people are now able to work remotely. Many are working from home while COVID-19 persists, but they also have the ability to work in destinations around the country.

DMOs should promote long-term rentals, incorporate messages encouraging the ability to work remotely from their destination, and target urban drive markets where remote workers are more prominent. Integrating tactics like these into your strategies will compel people to consider your destination as a place to stay for an extended period of time for both remote work and relaxation when they are off the clock.

Promote Outdoor Experiences

Our data analysis of traveler behavior during 2020 shows people are more likely to visit a destination to experience outdoor activities. Whether it’s because people feel safer outdoors or need a change after isolating in their homes, travelers want to get outside. 

DMOs should promote outdoor experiences in their leisure tourism marketing. Madden has helped partners adjust their strategies to create immersive storytelling to highlight outdoor activities and emphasize outdoor imagery in their creative asset libraries. Spotlighting a destination’s spacious outdoor activities will help compel visitations from visitors wanting to get outside and make people feel comfortable traveling to your destination.

Reflect the Real World

It is unclear how long we will be living in a COVID-19 dominated world. Destinations should make plans to integrate our current pandemic culture into their marketing strategy. While vaccines are beginning to be distributed, it’s likely that public health will remain on the top of people’s minds for an extended period of time. It’s important to keep marketing messages grounded in the real world to ensure they resonate with your audiences. 

DMOs should make sure their marketing reflects the real world. For example, some of our partners have done photo shoots with talent wearing masks so people can see themselves safely visiting their attractions, restaurants, and community. It doesn’t make sense to invest resources in storytelling or creative assets that create a dissonance between what you’re promoting and public health best practices. For example, it makes more sense to include tactics that promote activities that have a lower risk of spreading COVID or the best takeout restaurants rather than building campaigns around large events or activities that include crowds. 

While living with the pandemic has become our new status quo, destinations can still make the most of National Plan for Vacation Day. By leveraging the three recommendations mentioned above, DMOs can effectively promote their communities and compel people hesitant of traveling to consider planning a visit for the future. 

Read more about Madden Media’s COVID-19 resources for DMOs here.

Linear vs. Streaming: What’s Your Strategy?

Sheltering at home in 2020 brought on a huge boost in video and television consumption on traditional linear networks and streaming services. In March, April, and May of 2020, we saw a large number of consumers paying more attention to traditional TV, streaming TV, and the web by 40%. As destinations develop their marketing strategies for 2021 and beyond, it’s important to consider the benefits and challenges found in linear and streaming services. To help you determine the right balance to accomplish your goals, we’ve compiled a quick analysis.

Let’s Start With the Basics

When you’re comparing linear vs. streaming for your strategy, it helps to know the difference between them.

Linear viewing refers to the traditional television model where consumers watch content that the provider presents. Linear advertising can also mean Connected TV (CTV) and Over-the-Top (OTT) options. The user watches a video and is served a banner ad or another video. The platform or network selects content, creating a passive viewer experience. Another challenge comes from DVR services that allow the viewer to fast forward through or skip ads on recorded programming. 

Streaming gives the viewer control of their experience. They choose what they want to watch on demand and can start, pause, rewind, and fast forward content. The streaming model is now the preferred method of watching television for consumers. Time spent streaming surpassed linear viewing in 2019 and has continued to increase over time.

Benefits Comparison

Linear content consumption has been around for a long time and is familiar for users. Decades of data are available to understand the demographics of viewers on different networks. This data shows how to best engage consumers with advertisements. One way to boost linear ad engagement is to purchase spots during the morning or evening news. This is when viewers are more “tuned” into the program and less likely to skip or miss ads. However, the lack of consumer control is the primary downfall of linear viewing. Some consumers flip through channels rather than watching ads. Others change the channel to avoid watching commercials. Many don’t want their viewing experience dictated by the provider. 

Streaming services allow the consumer to choose what they watch at any time and creates several key benefits to advertisers:

  • As noted in a recent Think With Google Article, “According to a Google-commissioned Nielsen study, YouTube reached more adults ages 18 to 49 in the U.S. than all linear TV networks combined in March 2020.”
  • When comparing the average time spent streaming in Q3 of 2019 to Q3 of 2020, Samsung reports a 43% increase year-over year and anticipates continued growth. 
  • Promotion on streaming services means advertisers are reaching an audience that can easily be tracked. While some streaming ads are not clickable, it’s still possible to capture view-through traffic. Some platforms can pair an ad viewed through streaming with a website visit, providing evidence proving ad effectiveness. 
  • Subscriptions within streaming platforms have concerned advertisers who feared they’d be unable to reach a majority of users. However, ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) is the fastest growing viewing platform. While there are plenty of subscribed users who opt out of ads, a majority of streaming service users have a free account where they are served ads. Trends show AVOD reaches more viewers than linear. AVOD is also growing faster in average time spent than subscription video on demand.

What Does This Mean For Your Strategy?

Unsure whether to include linear or streaming ads in your strategy? Consider who you’re trying to reach. Does research show that your ideal audience tends to watch certain networks or types of programming? Do they use mobile devices to consume content or is television their go-to? If you’re unsure, consider investing in a Visitation Intelligence Report or deeper analysis to define your audience. 

To reach a wider audience, advertising on both streaming and linear services is your best option. Customize the ad type and messaging to connect with distinct audiences on different platforms while maintaining a cohesive brand voice. An ad on traditional network television should be crafted with that format in mind and not used interchangeably with ads built for streaming services.

As more consumers shift to streaming platforms, your budget should transfer accordingly. Samsung reports that:

  • Streaming commands 63% of consumer viewing time and is expected to follow the same trend. 
  • 75% of Samsung viewers spend 87% of their time streaming vs 13% watching linear programming. 
  • Advertisers who continue to solely invest in traditional linear advertising are missing 7 in 10 viewers

Let’s Bring it All Together

Three key linear vs. streaming takeaways:

  • Advertising within streaming and linear services provides brand lift. They should be used in tandem with other tactics that guide the consumer toward consideration and conversion. Your goal should be to increase brand awareness and ad recall across multiple channels, not rely solely on these ads to drive visitation.
  • Deliver impressions that inspire, spark imagination, and encourage the viewer to seek out additional information about your destination. Tailor your brand message to the platform your ad appears on.
  • While linear advertising is still valuable to reach particular audiences, destinations need to consider the audiences they aren’t reaching if they don’t incorporate streaming. All signs are pointing toward streaming services becoming the primary placement to reach consumers while they watch TV.

National Plan for Vacation Day: The Collective Impact of Tourism

This year’s National Plan for Vacation Day (January 26, 2021) feels different than in previous years. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the tourism industry hard. This year will be a recovery year for many. Destinations are looking to reclaim their past success. They will look to bring travelers to their communities and revitalize their local economies. Americans are also in need of travel. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 63% of Americans say they desperately need a vacation. After a difficult year, National Plan for Vacation Day presents an optimal opportunity to schedule time to step away from your busy life—while also helping generate a collective impact in communities across the country.  

What National Plan for Vacation Day Means to Us

National Plan for Vacation Day is an important initiative in our industry and for individuals’ well-being. It encourages everyone to take a break from their busy lives, relax and recharge, experience new places, and create new memories with friends and family. Tourism is the lifeblood of our agency. It not only provides livelihoods to our employees, but helps us generate a collective impact in our partners’ communities—creating better places to live, work, and play. 

Madden was founded as a family business around the goal of helping our community by promoting local shopping, restaurants, and experiences. Our desire to spread that impact across the country has driven our growth, and guides our decision to work exclusively within the tourism industry—the ideal industry for generating a collective impact. 

Generating a Collective Impact

Our partners’ work is so much more than heads in beds. The travelers they bring to their destinations touch everyone in their communities. The shoppers they bring to main street local businesses grow their economies. The public funding generated by tourism-related revenue goes towards a quality education and safe places to play for the children of their communities. The money service industry workers earn during peak tourism season feeds families and gives people a place to call home. We choose to serve our partners, and we are proudly promoting National Plan for Vacation Day, because of these impacts. 

Plan Your Next Trip

So, plan your next vacation and research new places to visit. Your trip and the money you spend will ripple through a community for generations. Especially now, when the pandemic has ravaged the tourism and service industries, travelers are needed more than ever. The relaxation and fun your vacation brings to you and your family also means so much to the families who live and work in the place you visit. 

And while we want people to get out and travel, we want to ensure that the impact travelers are making on communities is positive. While we’ve entered a new year, COVID-19’s challenges have not disappeared. Wherever you travel, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and follow local health guidelines. Taking these steps will help make travel safe for everyone and lead to a faster tourism industry recovery. 

Your Vacation Means More This Year

2020 was a tough year. Many lost loved ones or lost time spent with loved ones when trips, weddings, events, and more had to be postponed. We’re encouraging people to mark this new year, and National Plan for Vacation Day, by taking the time to make up for lost time. Plan a visit to a beach destination this winter. Map out a camping trip for the springtime. Schedule time to meet up somewhere with family and friends this summer. Take steps to spend more time outdoors this fall. Whatever your reasons for traveling, by planning your next trip today, you start looking forward to the experiences coming your way, the memories you’ll create, and the collective impact you’ll make on the destination you choose to visit. 

Read more about how Madden is generating a collective impact for our partners.

Three Ways to Avoid Ad Fatigue Among Your Audience

Let’s face it. Your audience is bombarded with brand messages every day. Not all stick. Our inboxes full of unread promotional emails serve as evidence. So, how can you ensure your marketing messages are sticking?

We build unique media plans for every client. However, we incorporate these three key principles into every media strategy to keep our partners’ audiences engaged and avoid ad fatigue. 

Audience over Brand

It’s vital to focus on WHY people travel rather than WHO travels. We build our strategies around intent-based audiences rather than demographics. This approach enables us to speak directly to the reasons people travel, and show your destination offering the experiences they crave. We constantly analyze media consumption data to understand which channels travelers interact with when they are dreaming of, planning, and booking their next trip. These insights mean our messages are always delivered on the right channel at the right time.

Our client Explore St. Louis planned to invest CARES funding, but didn’t want to target people unlikely to travel due to COVID-19 fears. We analyzed how the pandemic was affecting traveler behavior, and developed intent-based creative and keywords to reach people looking for outdoor destinations they could safely enjoy with their family. 

Stay Fresh

We build constant optimization into every media strategy to ensure creative variety, viewability, and frequency. It’s vital to establish recurring times throughout your campaigns to refresh your creative assets. This approach helps avoid repetitions and let’s us build upon what’s effective. 

These regular refresh periods also create the opportunity to adjust. For example, after the COVID-19 pandemic brought new social distancing and public health guidelines, we helped many clients refresh their creative asset libraries to emphasize outdoor activities, small groups, and in some cases, mask wearing.

As the agency of record for Visit Idaho we refreshed our media tactics frequently since the beginning of the year to keep our audiences engaged. In anticipation of seasonality transition and COVID-19 causing more people to look for outdoor experiences, we refreshed all our media buys to feature autumn outdoor creative.

Madden Media's Visit Idaho Fall Adventure Idaho ad campaign - 300x250 adMadden Media's Visit Idaho Fall in love with Idaho ad campaign - 300x250 ad
Madden Media's Visit Idaho Fall For Idaho ad campaign - 300x250 adMadden Media's Visit Idaho Don't miss Idaho ad campaign - 300x250 ad

Remain Top of Mind

It’s important to structure multiple touchpoints that align with the traveler’s journey. This approach builds connections with people during each phase of decision making. We plan out multiple touchpoints through creative ad sequencing. This method serves people different ad designs and messages on the same platform, often having each ad building upon the one another—creating a narrative through advertising. 

Using several different ads in sequence performs better than repeating the same ad. According to Ipsos, video sequences with three ads increased key message retention by 89% — much higher than two repeating ads. It’s also a great way to deliver remarketing messages to people who have viewed or interacted with specific campaigns. 

Our winter campaign with Visit Idaho leverages video sequencing to highlight different activities and places to visit around Idaho’s diverse region. This approach adds variety and appeals to different intent-based audiences. By running tests on each video ad, we determine which videos perform best and sequence the order to maximize effectiveness.  

Build Relationships Without Overwhelming People

Capturing and holding your audience’s attention will determine whether your destination is considered for their next trip. By following the three principles discussed above, DMOs can guarantee they are getting noticed and building relationships that generate visitations.

Why We Recommend Open Source Website Platforms

Open Source & Microservices vs Proprietary Approach

When building sites, Madden subscribes to an open source platform approach with a microservices backbone. Many website companies use a proprietary platform to develop websites, but Madden believes that there are several downsides to this approach.

Open Source Community of Developers vs a Single Vendor

First, clients have to rely on the vendor for fixes, upgrades, and changes to the system. A proprietary solution only has the developers employed by the parent company to work on the product. In most cases, they are supporting multiple clients. On the other hand, an open source platform solution, has thousands of developers working on it all over the world. This mean that the community at large discovers and resolves security issues quickly. In the world of quality assurance, the more eyes that can see something, the more likely issues are revealed and subsequently fixed.

Flexibility vs Long Term Contracts

Second, proprietary solutions often strike longer term deals with 3rd party vendors to integrate their data into the platform. For example, a review service might sign a multi-year contract to have their reviews used exclusively in client sites. The microservice approach lets you pull from the right data source for you. You can use a plug and play approach to adding a new service if one falls out of favor or becomes unreliable. Open source platform’s flexibility benefits both you and your site visitors.

Simple Transfer vs Unorganized Data

Lastly, a proprietary approach means that when other agencies stop working with a client, they retain their proprietary software. This makes it much more challenging to move away from that system. Clients can be left at the mercy of their old developers who don’t always have clean solutions in place to hand off data to new teams. They’re also under no obligation to provide this in an organized or timely manner. With open source platform solutions, your site can be easily transferred if you decide another developer is better for your needs.

Madden believes your website should be YOUR website.

We choose open source technology solutions because we want to provide the best tools to our destination marketing partners. Open source solutions allow us the flexibility to shift and adjust strategies as marketing and business needs change. We empower our partners using these tools and strategies. They’re able to move on their own without making our teams a bottleneck.

WordPress is our preferred platform. Its easy-to-use CMS gives full control over publishing new content and updating existing content. Our partners can adjust page layouts and create new web pages quickly and efficiently. When paired with our hosting platform and best practices, WordPress sites are fast, secure, and reliable.

Need More Website Insight?

For more of Madden’s website recommendations, check out our COVID-19 Website Strategies and Inclusion Goes Beyond Compliance for Travel Websites.