August 09 will have been our best advertising revenue month of the year thus far, with a 100% increase in revenues since January of this year – it seems that our premium advertising strategy has paid off as we offer more and more targeted and premium advertising solutions to advertisers, and in particular, to the Travel and Tourism industry. Tourism Boards have been particularly open to Social Media as we found that most are having to promote their regions even more so during a global economic downturn. WAYN.com has accommodated, forward thinking DMO’s to not only engage their target audiences with their content and key messaging, but also achieve a ‘myriad’ of marketing objectives via our ‘bespoke’ profile integration approach, such as traffic generation, brand awareness, interaction, UGC (User Generated Content), data capture and lead generation.
South Africa Tourism Board, as a case in point, is one of our many clients for whom we have offered a bespoke integrated solution – their recent campaigns on WAYN generated the highest number of views for their promotional video – in fact, the highest number of views ever generated for any promotional video they have ever ran.
The use of advanced profiles (micro sites) on WAYN enables organisations to capture and engage global audiences; our clients also experience an exponential increase in traction, when profiles are launched in synergy with a competition or survey. Targeted members are typically encouraged to engage with client profiles once they are informed of the “carrot” (What’s in it for me), and they can then apply directly via the client hosted profile, allowing clients to a) engage members with their profile hosted content, b) maximise interest in their profile ion the promotional phase and c) benefit from data capture and traffic to their website portal. Clearly the wider the reach of the campaign, the higher the odds of success – and in our experience a global campaign will become viral a lot quicker as users spread the word, and by nurturing this viral element, messages are dispersed with more ease when reaching a wider pool of contacts.
Tourism Boards are embracing the Social Media trends: they have become far more sophisticated (and rightly so) in their online media strategies and more and more become experts, some even without the need of Media Buying Agencies – the largest Tourism Boards will now even have a Social Media Expert internally – something that clearly wasn’t commonplace a year ago, let alone a few years ago. This is great news for the Social Media industry. Whilst many debates are still leading to the opened question of, ‘how the monetisation of Social Networks can be executed’?, many agree that the bulk of the value is yet to be discovered and the evolution of technology combined with an increasing appetite to be part of this global phenomenon, lead us to believe that we have merely scraped the surface. Fingers crossed, the trend will carry on – especially as the key to success is ultimately in a direct, consultative approach with our clients as we build our own expertise in the field and educate our clients directly – this is key for longer term client retention and commercial scalability.
The good news is that the strong performance of those integrated campaigns has led to multiple buys from more Tourism Boards in the last couple of months - Canary Islands, Tunisia, Philadelphia and Orlando , amongst others being some of the latest ones to join the ever growing WAYN client portfolio.
We are now rolling out this approach to Asia with 3 major clients coming on board shortly thanks to the signing of Fox Networks in Asia (part of News Corp) and TAN (Travel Ad Network) continues their progress in the US Market, whilst North America saw CPM rates dropped earlier this year by as much as 40% in some cases, we are certainly seeing an uplift in activities on the other side of the Atlantic. My bet however, remains on the Emerging Markets where we are still experiencing strong growth and increasing demand in online buys. We are still far from the optimal levels but patience is a virtue. Perseverance is a golden rule too!
Finally, if I had to provide 3 recommendations to companies considering investing in social media, and based on what we have seen over the last 12 months:
- Try to work directly with the publishers where possible – this will save you time and money and you can also tap in directly to their experience and expertise
- Be prepared to dip more than just your toe in and give your campaign a chance to succeed over an elongated period,
- Be engaging, informative, enticing, provocative and overall inspirational to your target audience and embrace their feedback…they are potential customers after all
Let’s hope for some continued momentum and more positive news in the industry for the months to come!