Campaign Promises Plenty of Mileage

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Customer loyalty provider WebMiles is expected to launch a $15 million consumer marketing campaign on June 12 to draw new users to its program. However, the company may have a challenge on its hands, as the loyalty space has been extremely active of late.


WebMiles' unique selling point is its currency -- unrestricted discounts off air travel on any airline.


The goal of the campaign is to spread the word among early-adopter frequent fliers and online shoppers. These target groups carry a similar demographic profile: affluent, college-educated, working professionals between 25 and 54 years old who use the Internet regularly.


The campaign will include print, television and outdoor advertisements. Ads will appear in general interest and travel-related magazines and newspapers, including Newsweek, Travel & Leisure, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Magazine.


WebMiles also will run national and regional television spots in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. Because NBC is a significant investor in WebMiles, a large portion of the national TV buy will air on NBC and CNBC on shows including "Today," "Dateline," "ER," "Squawk Box" and "Market Watch." Billboards and bus ads also will run in the five targeted cities.


The company is testing the campaign to gauge consumer response and then will probably roll it out to additional cities. "Originally, it was going to be in 13 cities. We scaled it back to see the reaction to the campaign," said Bill Meade, CEO of WebMiles, Sandy, UT.


MyPoints, which offers points redeemable for travel, has in excess of 7 million members. Netcentives also has a firm foothold in the space, as do players such as FreeRide.com and Beenz.com. WebMiles has 100,000 members. Meade expects to have 2 million by the end of the year.


To spur registration, the site recently gave away 1 million WebMiles as part of its "Let Us Take You There" promotion. The grand prize winner received 200,000 WebMiles, and the rest went to second- and third-place winners. Other traffic-driving promotions will follow, Meade said.


Last month, the site launched a co-branded credit card with Metris Cos. Inc. The WebMiles MasterCard will be available this month. It offers users one WebMile per dollar spent.


Members who earn 8,000 WebMiles are entitled to $100 off any flight. At 15,000 they receive $200 off, and at 25,000, they can fly free in the continental United States.


The company will soon expand beyond just offering airline discounts, Meade said. In the near future, its currency will be redeemable for hotels, car rentals and tour packages.


In addition to NBC, the company secured $34 million in second-round financing from Patricof & Co. Ventures Inc., Maritz Inc. and others.
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