Why Madden Media?

You inspire us to inspire travel. Tourism does more than bring dollars to your destination; it brings people together, nourishes the soul, and expands worldviews. Every destination has a story, and it is our passion to help you tell yours to the right audience at the right time. It’s not just the story that inspires, but the way that message is delivered and entices travelers to explore a destination and originate their own tales—that’s what drives us further.

The excitement we share for travel starts with our own fervor for expanding our perspectives and finding new and different cultural experiences. We embrace the zest our partners have for their destinations, and pour it into every facet of every campaign. We know firsthand how a vacation can refresh, relax, and reset our lives—that experience should translate into your marketing plan.

We’re partners, plain and simple, collaborating to spark wanderlust in travelers near and far. Available to brainstorm strategies, take your call when you have questions, and celebrate with you when your campaign is a success—we work alongside you every step of the way. Let’s team up—travelers are waiting to be inspired.

Every destination has a story, and it is our passion to help you tell yours to the right audience at the right time.

A Brief Look at Madden History

For the past 35 years, Madden has been creating and publishing stories to help prospective and in-market visitors discover and explore destinations. Madden Publishing (our original moniker) was founded in 1982 with its initial sights set on bringing Tucson’s local stories and advertisers together to create an inspiring consumer magazine, with the ultimate goal of increasing tourism revenue in southeastern Arizona. Our premiere publication, Tucson Guide, carries on successfully to this day and has helped set the course for becoming leaders in the travel and tourism industry.

Over the years, Madden has grown into a national brand through the acquisition of like-minded companies such as Preprint Publishing in 2003 and Custom Marketing Group in 2012. Most importantly, however, our overall growth as a company is attributed to being on the forefront of digital solutions for destination marketing organizations nationwide. Madden Media, as we’re now known, currently delivers highly impactful results to 2,000+ clients in all 50 states as well as Canada. With nearly 100 travel experts on-staff specializing in a variety of media channels such as search engine marketing, storytelling, audience development, and social marketing—we have been fortunate to build long-lasting partnerships through our tailored solutions and product excellence.

Madden Media’s headquarters are located in the revitalized downtown scene of sunny Tucson, Arizona. Since 2009 we have had the privilege of occupying the historical MacArthur Building, originally constructed in 1907. Nearly 80% of our staff serves out of this central location with the other 20% serving from satellite offices nationwide.

From the beginning, our focus has been on building relationships—growing local economies as well as the firm belief that our success lies in your success. With our roots firmly planted in tourism, our opportunities ahead lie in continual innovation and evolution of the products that propel the industry and bring visitors to destinations. Connecting people to places—that’s Madden Media.

Breaking down what Destinations on Google means to you

Google has made changes with the layout for its search engine results pages (SERPs) for travel-related searches. This change is known as Destinations on Google and it has created a lot of buzz in the industry. You’ve most likely seen the new layout that applies to mobile travel-related searches for continent, country, or state “destination”, or “vacation” searches and been approached about improving your online presence through “new efforts” or programs in order to respond to this new change.

What you can do

Madden can assist you and put your best foot forward to help Google represent your destination in the best way possible and improve your online presence. In fact, Google already works with us and our partners to help benefit travelers with better decision-making information so they gain valuable insight in order to plan their trip and in turn, you gain credibility and trust. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Perform a Google search for your destination and your key partners and review the content. Create a checklist of issues like poor quality images, incorrect or missing information, and inappropriate content.
  2. Flag or report issues that you cannot correct yourself. Utilize assets that you currently have to upload new images and content.
  3. Review the content on your website. Ensure you have up to date event listings, utilizing the correct Schema markup and implement structured data to enable special search result features.
  4. Empower your partners/members to ensure their destination or business has accurate information on their Google My Business page in order to leverage their content. Access their support page for additional insight: Google My Business Help

As a Google Premier Partner, we have access to the tools you need and the experience that destinations can capitalize on to work with you to achieve your goals. We provide the structured data, descriptions, and content needed to improve your Destination page and presence on the Google Trips app. These efforts are not a standalone campaign, but part of a much larger Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effort that Madden has been focused on for years. Our valued partnerships with destinations, coupled with our Google connection has allowed us to focus on creating opportunities for our partners that are timely, relevant, and focused on constant improvement. It’s not a single commodity component, it’s a component of being a good partner.

The elephant in the room

Although it’s extremely beneficial to improve your Destination page, it may interfere with the intention of your website, which is to drive traffic to it. With Google’s new page layout, some travelers may find the information they are looking for without clicking through to your site, resulting in a traffic drop-off. Again, don’t panic—there are ways to help bring that organic traffic back and get visitors to complete conversion activities. We suggest coupling your SEO efforts with a multi-platform strategy that uses engaging content and immersive storytelling to increase visibility and build a loyal audience. Readers crave content and incorporating a focused paid media strategy across platforms can drive traffic and increase conversions.

Pay to Play—the new Facebook algorithm

You’ve probably heard chatter about the new algorithm for Facebook that seeks to prioritize posts by friends and family. But what does that mean? Well, good news, for your business it probably won’t affect you too much.

The algorithm tailors users’ feeds so that they see posts they find important based on their past actions. For most users, this means posts by friends, family, and groups they are part of. Posts they read, comment on, and click-through with regularity are most visible—but this is nothing new. For several years now Facebook has been tweaking its algorithms along the same vein. This has meant that users see fewer posts from businesses and brands. Your organic reach has probably been declining for years due to these changes.

For several years now Facebook has been tweaking its algorithms along the same vein. This has meant that users see fewer posts from businesses and brands. Your organic reach has probably been declining for years due to these changes.

There’s also the “pay to play” option, which refers to businesses relying more heavily on paying for Facebook Ads, Promoted Posts, and other Facebook paid media to get their content in front of their audiences. Although this isn’t ideal for businesses, it isn’t anything new. Odds are, you probably have a Facebook Ad campaign running right now.

But the new algorithm doesn’t mean you should stop posting. On the contrary, you should focus on sharing quality content. The algorithm focuses on “meaningful interaction”—so that should be your goal. Get users involved. Give users a way to offer their opinion, ask a question, or hold a poll. The more consumers comment and engage with your posts, the more likely they will continue to see your posts organically. However, steer clear of what Facebook calls “engagement-bait” where you’re encouraging likes, shares, and comments without any real engagement or substance. This will ultimately hurt your brand’s presence.

Get users involved. Give users a way to offer their opinion, ask a question, or hold a poll. The more consumers comment and engage with your posts, the more likely they will continue to see your posts organically.

Unfortunately, it still stands that if you want to widen the reach of your page and gain new followers, you will have to pay for ads. As you’re planning your future budgets, it would be wise to consider increasing your Facebook paid media allocations to ensure you’re still able to effectively impact your audience in this updated landscape.

What’s it like at Google? We ask so you don’t have to.

Ever wonder what it’s really like to visit the Google headquarters?

Madden Media superstars Alexis Favis and Vanessa Abril-Gutierrez were able to join our partners Jason Holic and Jessica Castro from Experience Kissimmee at Google’s main campus in California last month. Our very own Amber Ayers asked them to recount their adventure to Silicon Valley and share their experience with everyone.

You recently made a trip to Google’s Partnerplex in Mountain View for a Google Executive Summit. Tell me about some of your expectations for the trip.

VG: My expectation of the trip was to build our partner relationship with Experience Kissimmee (EK) and take an in-depth look at their current efforts to identify opportunities for growth so that we can take their campaign to the next level. Our goal is to ensure that we are doing all that we can to have a top performing campaign.

AF: From the client relations side, solidifying our relationship as a Google Premier Partner as well as bringing Kissimmee directly into those conversations for more collaboration on their Google campaigns.

What was your first impression of the campus?

AF: We visited the quad campus first and that blew me away with the amount of people, and the energy, and structure. Then actually visiting the Google Partnerplex was really special. The entrance to the Partnerplex is even guarded by security, which I wasn’t expecting. Not just anyone can enter. You truly do have to be invited. It really solidified how unique of an opportunity this was for Madden & EK.

VG: What I thought was exciting was that it has a very casual atmosphere in the way that it is set up. It’s still very structured in a way where it just oozes smart people. You really felt like everybody was on their game.

AF: The casualness fostered communication and workflow. You saw a lot of people doing their work, but there was a lot of interactivity…

VG: Collaboration. And it’s not just talking about everyday things. It’s talking about strategy and opportunity and the products themselves. What would really help our partners and the campaigns that we manage. I think that just really felt…

AF: Google-y.

VG: Yes! I felt a presence of being with really knowledgeable people. It was pretty cool.

Is the cafeteria really as cool as they say it is?

AF: It’s a whole ordeal and the food is really, really good. That was some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had and obviously there was pizza, so I was thrilled.

VG: Even the remote site was pretty cool. They had a coffee bar where we could fuel up, which got our ideas flowing, especially after a latte and Americano.

What does it mean to you to be a Google Premier Partner?

VG: For us to be a GPP is special because of the fact that we are that next level of what Google expects an agency to be. Not only from the amount of spend that we have with them, because it’s really easy for agencies to spend money with Google, but the performance aspects of it. We have to maintain a certain level of performance in order to have the Premier status. In addition to that we’re also badged in specialties—video, search, display, and mobile. That’s just another added bonus. The thing that I love about it, when we first became the Premier Partner and started working with Google directly, is the amount of access and the additional tools that we have outside of just the platform itself. With additional reporting, and being able to bounce our ideas about optimization off a third-party, which is Google, is priceless. We try to stay on top of our game as far as optimization, but to have that extra, “hey guys what do you think about this?” and have them come back and say “that’s a really good approach”—having that extra access, an allied human to go to is really priceless. Our reps are so communicative and knowledgeable and they are not afraid to bring up new ideas.

AF: That direct human contact—and you can tell how genuinely interested they are in learning about our vertical and all the nuances. They get excited about it too because we are educating them on this whole vertical of travel and tourism. The Premier Partnership shows how hard our team works to keep up that performance which is really impactful for what we do on the client side in terms of ensuring we can back-up the performance of all our campaigns.

What are some unexpected experiences you encountered?

AF: Getting to visit the quad campus was unexpected. We hadn’t initially planned on that, but it added to this unique experience.

VG: I wouldn’t say there was anything unexpected—I knew I was going to be wowed. I appreciate the fact that our reps really went above and beyond to make sure that we were comfortable, even at the remote office. When we were at the Googleplex, it was the same—making sure we were comfortable, EK was comfortable, and we always had what we needed. That level of attention to detail in addition to the fact that they wanted to make sure we were happy was like—WOW. We weren’t just there for an every-day meeting, this was really showing our bond.

You mentioned our partner, Experience Kissimmee. Were you able to gain some insights on their current and future digital marketing efforts?

VG: Yes, we actually were able to gain quite a few insights. Not only for their existing campaigns, but we also identified opportunities for things that they aren’t currently running and provided data and facts to support reasons why they should be doing it.

AF: That is another GPP benefit. We can get introduced to betas that are really good fits for our clients and they are always trying to bring those opportunities to us, where we wouldn’t be able to get those otherwise. All of the data and resources that we get as a GPP really sheds some light on their campaign and gave us and EK quite a few ah-ha moments—things they were excited to take back to Florida with them.

What’s next for the future of digital marketing with Google and its brands?

VG: The machine learning and smart bidding is really their focus—what we are working with them on. Something else is the attribution models that we bring to the table.

AF: That’s a really good point regarding the attribution innovations, because for the vertical that we work in, it’s often a soft conversion, so to speak. There are a lot of other factors that play into conversion, so specifically for DMOs and CVBs, finding new ways to do attribution is really exciting. Video is going to be the cornerstone of more digital marketing campaigns, so I’m excited about all the capabilities we have to distribute that with Google. All the different strategies, video lengths, where consumers are seeing video, and the content of those videos at different points in the travel cycle can be leveraged in campaigns.

VG: Back at the beginning of 2017, when they had their Google Next Keynote speech, you could really see the areas of that speech tied into the products that we’re implementing, including attribution. I feel like that tied together with their goals as a company. You could see that in the way that they were speaking to us about their products that we are implementing for our partners.

Vanessa & Alexis’ insider travel tip: Android Statue Garden—Google has an Android statue “graveyard” with all of the past versions of Google’s Android mobile operating system, based on their code names, named after desserts and sweet treats. The garden is located next to the Google Merchandise Store, which is open to Google employees and their guests.

Food Tourism

Food. In our daily lives it can be a hassle to plan and make those meals, making sure we balance the right amount of meat with vegetables, and wine with water, so when we go on vacation, we often let loose. Gaining weight on a trip doesn’t really come as a surprise anymore, if anything a few pounds are expected.

But food isn’t only being consumed on vacations, it’s driving the decision to travel.

Places like Charleston, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago, Portland are foodie hotspots with their unique offerings.

Portland takes food tourism to a whole other level. This dish from Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine is an adventure all in itself.

Source: Travel Portland

Where better to have beignets than New Orleans? Sugar-topped deliciousness with some coffee from Café Du Monde. Sign us up.

Source: Visit New Orleans

One of our employees recently traveled to St. Louis for business and stopped for a bite in the St. Charles Historic District. Are you drooling? Because we are.

Source: _Arexis

Here in Tucson we’ve got Sonoran Dogs, prickly pear, and so much more to thrill the taste buds of visitors. What kind of unique dishes catch your eye when thinking about traveling?

The digital marketing trends all the cool kids are talking about

Want to know more about the latest digital marketing trends that can help bring visitors to your destination? We’ve got you covered. As we travel around the country attending conferences and talking to destination marketers, our teams continue learning about the latest digital marketing trends impacting tourism. From Google Destinations to mobile-inspired ads, User Generated Content to video marketing, there are always new strategies that you can use in your digital campaigns.

Conventions and meetings are big business for destinations

So how do you land the big gigs?

Let’s start with the basics: does your destination have the facilities to host conventions like trade shows and conferences? If your answer is no—skip down to the next paragraph. If your answer is yes—high-five! Your destination is well equipped for event planners looking for the ideal place to book their event. A comprehensive marketing campaign, using platforms like LinkedIn to reach professionals and tactics like storytelling to share firsthand experiences while highlighting the technical aspects of your hosting capabilities, offer an innovative way for interested parties to get inspired. Keep the information dynamic, and make sure to sell yourself beyond the venue. Your unique amenities and attractions may make the difference on whether an event planner selects your destination over another.

Keep the information dynamic and make sure to sell yourself beyond the venue.

Most destinations aren’t equipped with grand convention centers or sprawling resorts, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to entice meeting planners with the venues you DO have. Meetings like off-site company gatherings or group events have the ability to bring serious dollars to your destination. Upgrading your search engine marketing efforts ensures meeting planners searching for the perfect venue find you for all the right reasons at the exact right time. LinkedIn and Facebook ads with professional targeting can also be great tactics in this space. Always make sure to have dedicated pages on your website for this specific audience with clear calls-to-action.

Travel to where the jobs are

What influences someone to relocate? Is it the job benefits? The salary? But those are only part of the reason. Professionals want to live in a place where they can explore, dine, and relax on their downtime and continue to be successful while on the clock. But it can be a challenge to encourage these professionals to consider relocating. People are always dreaming of the perfect job, but don’t always consider that the perfect job could be in a different city—or even a different state. By showing off the top quality-of-life reasons to live, work, and thrive, Madden Media is able to target professionals who are looking for a job and influence them as they consider moving. But how does it work? Take a peek below to see how Lubbock, Texas was successfully able to encourage IT professionals to relocate.

Case Study: Lubbock Economic Development Alliance

The Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) partnered with Madden Media on a strategic digital campaign focused on growing Lubbock’s IT industry by recruiting IT professionals. They also sought to increase awareness of Lubbock’s competitive technical industry and excellent quality of life. After reviewing the city’s goals and determining the audience, Madden Media devised a plan and tactics to execute the campaign. The campaign utilized LinkedIn to target the most desirable audiences, specifically Texas Tech alumni and those educated in IT Engineering. LinkedIn Display Ads and InMail marketing were launched to generate visits to the Alliance’s microsite, Return2LBK.org, which featured IT job listings and quality of life comparisons between Lubbock and other major cities. Within a very short period, LEDA had already received more than 20 responses from IT professionals interested in being considered for job opportunities in the area.

Results:

  • LinkedIn InMail Marketing for LEDA averaged a 6.8% CTR and 54.7% open rate (LinkedIn benchmarks are 4% and 40%)

LEDA’s campaign delivered more than 719,000 impressions and a total of 1,090 clicks to Return2LBK.org

Travel Micro-Moments

What is a micro-moment and why should you care?

When you turn to a device looking to learn, discover, or find or buy something, you are creating a micro-moment. During this time, preferences and decisions are often made. These moments give tourism entities a perfect chance to influence potential visitors.

Dreaming

Sitting in a boring meeting, hearing a friend talk about their fantastic trip, or seeing an ad about a destination—all of these can spark an “I want to get away” moment. In this moment, they will turn to their device to look more into getting away. It’s important to kindle that spark of desire to travel. Mobile is huge—60% of searches for destination information are coming from mobile devices. 1 in 3 travelers say they haven’t typically decided on a specific destination, so it’s the perfect time to bring out all the bells and whistles. Be inspiring. People look at 10 images on average when dreaming about vacationing—the greatest engagement is with the main image. Don’t bog them down with details or try to get them to commit to booking at this time, they just want to get excited by the idea of visiting your destination. So show it off!

Planning

Once they are inspired and are dreaming about visiting your destination, travelers move into a “Time to make a plan” moment. This is your chance to add in a bit more detail about your destination. They are looking at hotels and flights, reading stories about what others have done there—the logistics of their travel plans—and the majority of visitors do it on their phones. 70% of travelers with a smartphone have done travel research on their smartphone. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a mobile-responsive website that is inspiring and easy to navigate.

Booking

After visitors have decided that their plans are feasible, they are ready to start booking the trip—the “Let’s book it” moment. Here is where device really matters. 46% of mobile travelers say they make decisions on mobile, but then book on another device. Mobile limitations and usability is usually the reason for the switch to another device, which can often delay booking or sometimes derail it entirely. What can you do to keep the ball rolling and make it easier for visitors looking to book on mobile? Here are a few tips:

  • Implement one-click functionality
  • Help the traveler fill in forms
  • Put call-to-action front and center
  • Decrease the amount of steps to book
  • Decrease loading time—any wait will make them question whether they want to continue

Experiencing

They’ve booked—congratulations! Now what? Visitors move into a “Can’t wait to explore” moment. It’s during this time you want to keep up the feel-good feelings. Now make sure they enjoy their time in your destination and, of course, feed your local economy with tourist dollars. The best way to sustain a destination’s success is to encourage your visitors to get out and engage in experiences. 67% of travelers feel more loyal towards a travel company that shares information during their trip that improves their travel experience. 

Is your brand easily accessible during each of these micro-moments?