Travel Alberta Uses Tumblr To Encourage Exploration

Travel AlbertaThe first step for Travel Alberta, in its goal to grow tourism from $7.4 billion to $10.3 billion by 2020, is to help Americans figure out where Alberta is. Step two involves telling them why they should go there.

The steps involve a marketing strategy steeped in digital content, said Jasmine Thompson, director of consumer marketing USA for Travel Alberta. “We’re making investments in distributed content vs. owning it ourselves.”

Travel Alberta jumped at the opportunity to use Tumblr as a showcase for its digital campaign encouraging users to “Winterlust.” It would create Tumblr content and use paid media on the microblog and in-stream Yahoo ads to drive users.

Tumblr was valuable to Travel Alberta because its format highlights user-generated content and encourages engagements and shares, or reblogs.

The Tumblr campaign ran from October to January and generated 24 million impressions through the native in-stream ads on Yahoo and 14 million impressions on Tumblr. Those initiatives led to 24,000 engagements on Tumblr, 4,000 of which were reblogs

The campaign reached users efficiently, too: The Yahoo stream ads, targeting users interested in travel, generated 50,000 clicks with a cost per click averaging less than a dollar, Thompson said.

While Travel Alberta does other paid social media on places like Facebook, that platform “doesn’t allow us to provide resources to plan their holiday,” Thompson said. “Tumblr allowed for deeper engagement in the content. You can click through and see all the other content that’s been created and curated. There’s not a lot of places where you can inspire consumers with content native to the platform.”

Having an ongoing social media presence on sites like Tumblr aligns with a shift in Travel Alberta’s strategy.

Last summer, during the high season, Alberta bookings reached capacity quickly, Thompson said. It was a great problem to have, but it meant that heavy marketing spending during peak summer season might not be the best allocation of resources.

“The always-on strategy was born out of that,” Thompson said. “We don’t want to stop marketing in the summer, but we’re starting to look at shoulder seasons.”

The Tumblr campaign increased Travel Alberta’s following substantially, making those users easier to reach in the future.

Having an always-on strategy also eliminated the waste of shorter campaigns. “Ramping up and ramping down campaigns is a costly venture, especially on the search side,” Thompson added.

As it moves to an always-on marketing strategy, Travel Alberta wants to bring in more data to drive its spending decisions. One challenge is that its data resides mainly with its partners, not itself, making optimization and attribution difficult.

“In CPG, you do something, and you see sales. Whereas in tourism, you do something, and then have to wait to hear from your partners to hear about sales,” Thompson said.

Travel Alberta is working on building a data-management platform in the form of a “Traveler Engagement Index,” which will aggregate information from sources like Google Analytics, Facebook, Media Reach and Weibo. The goal of the index will be to bring in “consistent, clean” data to enable faster decision-making and richer insights, Thompson said.

And with that data, Travel Alberta can closely track changes in its prospective visitors. “This real-time data is important for us to optimize globally and understand how our audience is engaging with direct-to-traveler conversations.”

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