Tourism Report Outlines Marketing Expenses, Results

OCEAN CITY – A tourism report given last week proved that taxpayer dollars are hard at work spreading the word about Ocean City.

Tourism Director Donna Abbott presented a report on the “OC Tourism Campaign” running through May and June.

“Our Summer of Thanks campaign is in full swing,” Abbott said.

Rodney the Lifeguard commercial spots have been airing in key theater markets, Baltimore, Washington, DC, HLLY (Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Pa.), Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey, targeting an adult audience, 25-49, with house hold incomes of $50,000 and above.

The television spots ran for 11 weeks, April 2 through June 24, during highest times of viewership, 1-9 a.m. and 5 p.m.-midnight., and gained almost 95 million impressions.

There was nine weeks of regional outdoor advertising, or billboards, on highly traveled highways, such as I-95, I-83, I-76, 295, 395, and the New Jersey Turnpike. There were 38 boards in total gaining over 84 million impressions.

“Anybody who travels those roadways saw the Ocean City message every single day that they traveled,” Abbott said.

Online advertising, which includes display banners on websites, mobile phone banners and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), have above average Click Through Rates (CTR). CTR is when people click on an advertisement online and that action can be tracked and measured.

“We are going to continue to do that,” Abbott said. “It is the wave of the future and the future is here. It is something that is very easily accessible to people now and an inexpensive way to advertise as well.”

All of Ocean City’s advertising drives attention to the town’s website,, and the number of visitors to that page has increased over the years. Last month alone had almost 350,000 visitors. There has been over 70,000 Summer of Thanks page views, 570 Summer of Thanks e-news sign ups, 806 Summer of Thanks check-ins on the town’s mobile app, a little over 13,000 iPhone app downloads and almost 8,000 Android app downloads.

This year the town has sent out calendar-style press kits to 100 media outlets.

“I found in the past when I go into news rooms in Baltimore or Washington and I see that press kit on the news editor’s desk I know that we have done a good job,” Abbott said.

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, continues to be a growing success for the town. The town’s Facebook page has grown to have over 414,000 fans and over 11,000 followers on Twitter. The town also purchased Facebook ads and at a cost of almost $6,000 and over three million impressions have been received at a CTR of .40 percent. Facebook has an average CTR of .05 percent.

A group of volunteers, OC Insiders, are hard at work spreading the word about Ocean City. They have received 288 questions and have responded with 2,227 answers. The Insiders section on the town’s website has received 37,474 views.

Abbott’s report concluded with OC Night at Camden Yards that was held on June 23 when the Baltimore Orioles played the Washington Nationals in front of a sold out crowd of over 45,000 people. Rodney the Lifeguard was on the scene as hundreds of people lined up to take a photo with him. The event resulted in 327 people playing the mobile scavenger hunt, 725 total sweepstakes entries, 342 total e-news sign ups, 130 total mobile text alert sign ups, and 374 photos uploaded to Facebook.

Following the report, Abbott made a request to move some funding around to gain more television spots, which was recommended by the town’s advertising agency, MGH.

The town budgeted $45,000 for a tourism research project conducted by Equation Research. The project was completed just last year.

Andy Malis of MGH suggested skipping this year, use the $45,000 and additional funds gained by reducing a planned radio campaign from four weeks to two weeks and put it toward additional commercial spots.

The town voted 5-2 to approve the request, with council members Joe Hall and Brent Ashley opposed.

Abbott concluded that she has spoken with City Manager David Recor and they are in agreement to work with MGH to gain national media coverage on the upcoming Bikini Parade to be held in Ocean City on Saturday, Aug. 25.

“It is a family-friendly event and if it is something that we can get some positive news coverage on than we will work with the agency to do that,” Abbott said.

Recor added that the original record was set by Gold Coast Australia and was broken by Panama City, Fla., but the competition element is being picked up national media.

“What was reported in Panama City is that between $1.4 and $1.6 million was generated in media value from their record breaking parade in March thanks to national media outlets like CNN and the Today Show,” Recor said.

The council was in consensus to direct MGH to reach out to national media in regards to the bikini parade.