Agency Touts Ocean City Ad Campaign’s Success

OCEAN CITY – The Tourism Commission was presented with some encouraging information at its meeting Wednesday afternoon, as Andy Malis of MGH Advertising presented the commission with the results of the 2007 advertising campaign for Ocean City.

Destination advertising was a hot topic this summer with the tourism community making adamant requests for an increase in advertising funds. The notion “if you advertise it, they will come” seems to have been the underlying theme, with proponents sharing the feeling that if you increase advertising you will inevitably increase tourism.

In the presentation from MGH on Wednesday, that idea seemed to be proven, with facts and statistics revealing the success and popularity of this year’s ad campaign, “More Fun Here.”

This year marked the second year of the “More Fun Here” television campaign.  From April through June, Ocean City was promoted through both spot TV and cable TV. There were six weeks of spot TV in the Baltimore, DC, and HLLY markets and six weeks of cable in the Philadelphia market. Malis presented the commission with a viewing of the Desperate Retreat Sweepstakes that coupled as a TV ad for Ocean City and a sweepstakes. The commercial, tied in with the show “Desperate Housewives,” presented a weekend getaway to Ocean City, aptly titled “Desperate Retreat”.

Print advertising saw an increase in success this year due to a decrease in print inserts.

“We were at lots and lots of print inserts, so that you needed a magnifying glass to see them,” Malis said, explaining the decision to decrease on the amount of print inserts.

As a result, Malis said the resort saw an increase in response, as well as a significant increase in the Sea For Yourself Guidebooks.

Internet advertising, a relatively new mode of attack for Ocean City, was a tremendous success, according to Malis.

This year, Internet advertising took a different route by purchasing search keywords on the Internet through sites like Google. The result was 600,000 impressions and 4,400 clicks. Web banners were also purchased this year and posted on sites like WashingtonPost.com, NBC.com, and ABCnews.com. The web banners resulted in 18,000 clicks and seven million impressions.

“We did better than we thought we were going to do, and we certainly didn’t do worse,” Malis said.

According to Malis, the web traffic to ococean.com doubled, going from five million in 2006 to 10 million in 2007.

The Sea for Yourself Guidebooks also increased dramatically, increasing five times more this year than last. Malis explained another encouraging trend, pointing out the decrease in hard copy guidebooks but the dramatic increase in Internet downloads of the guidebook. The Internet downloads are encouraged as it saves money on printing and shipping.

After presenting the commission with the highlights of this year’s ad campaign, Malis highlighted some areas of interest for next year. Refining the markets is a top priority for next year, said Malis, explaining the goal to hopefully add more markets. “That’s where the growth will come from,” he said.

MGH also hopes to expand on niche markets, which would target specific groups or demographics through advertising. An example of niche marketing would be reaching out to golf or surf markets and highlighting what Ocean City has to offer them.

Malis also explained the goal to expand on web, e-mail and word-of-mouth campaigning. Malis said the plan is also to film a preseason commercial for the 2009 season during the summer of 2008.

Funded advertising was not the only success this year. Public relations, which is classified as essentially free advertising, also saw an increase this year with 30 million impressions in 200 strategic placements. Media coverage such as the Mayor Rick Meehan’s appearances on TV and radio stations in the Baltimore and DC area, newspaper articles featuring Ocean City, and the selection of the Boardwalk as one of the country’s “top boardwalks” on the Today Show, are examples of strong public relations advertising. MGH pointed out that the success and worth of that kind of free media exposure cannot be measured.

As for next year, MGH is hoping to have even better results.

“My hunch is that ‘More Fun Here’ is going to survive another year,” Malis said, explaining his hope to continue with the ad campaign.

Malis explained that although it would be the third year for “More Fun Here”, it has been widely popular and is not burnt out yet among viewers.

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