Every Season Is Vacation Season for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

According to an October 2014 report by Oxford Economics on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association, Americans are taking fewer vacation days now than at any point in the past 40 years. We at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) sought to turn these numbers around with a multi-seasonal campaign and draw attention to visiting our great state. So, we executed a geo-targeted campaign geared toward two customer segments—priority markets and maintenance markets—to increase engagement within ads and on the site, raise the number of overall unique visitors, and broaden our social reach.

TDTD opted to run a programmatic campaign in both the summer and the fall using a highly-actionable, geo-targeted approach. This enabled us to reach consumers over longer, more relevant spans of time and optimize based on initial results and observances.

For the summer campaign, the creative was focused on promoting family travel, beauty, and being outdoors. The creative developed for the campaign included two different display ads with clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons that invited viewers to “experience it” and further engage with the organization.

For the fall campaign, the creative focused on Tennessee’s musical offerings to tourists. A display ad featured “The soundtrack of America” and a video ad enticed consumers to “Sip beer in the Southern tier.”

Actions and outcomes

Working with our agency of record VML and programmatic platform provider ChoiceStream, the team used research and state visitor data to geo-target the campaign to consumers in key nearby markets (including Birmingham, Jackson, Asheville, and Greenville), as well as to consumers in higher-valued markets (such as Chicago and Dallas). The ads included an actionable button that brought visitors to TNVacation.com where they could access a video and downloadable content. Messaging also encouraged consumers to request a printed vacation guide or eGuide. Asset requests and downloads served as a key metric for the campaign.

VML found that the placement of the ads accounted for the most video views and highest click-through rates. This shows how important finding the right audience at the right time around the right content can be for engagement.

In fact, the summer campaign served almost 12 million impressions and achieved 521 conversions—well surpassing TDTD’s goals. Although the goal wasn’t directly tied to click-through rate, TDTD saw a 0.12% click-through rate from the ads, which is well above industry standards. Actionable creative and optimized targeting helped us achieve the overall goals of increasing engagement and social reach.

During the fall campaign we experienced a high number of engagements with more than 20,000 clicks—sending more than 14,000 users to our landing page. Additionally, there was a 76% completed view rate across the 4.4 million video views, which was higher than the entire campaign average of 68%.

About the author

Jennifer Littlejohn is director of marketing for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. She has worked in the tourism industry since 2002. Jennifer got her start at The University of Alabama as an intern withthe Tuscaloosa Convention & Visitors Bureau. She later joined the marketing team at the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and spent time as a senior account executive at agency White|Thompson. Jennifer was named as one of Southeast Tourism Society’s “Forty for the Future” in 2012. Her philosophy as a marketer is to be a catalyst for connectivity through relevant and meaningful stories.

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