local media insider

Brianhead Resorts Campaign blows-up response rates

Targeting tourists out of state was a winning strategy


Market: Las Vegas
Client: Brianhead Resorts
Agency: MI Marketing and V Digital Services, a joint venture of Voice Media Group and Wayne Morgan
Campaign: "Play and stay"
Key Executive: Jeremy Ginsberg, Las Vegas Market Manager, V Digital Services 
Technology used: Programmatic via Adcellerant  and pay-per-click via V Digital Media, plus radio and billboards

Brianhead Resorts in Southern Utah is a well known winter destination for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling just a day trip away from millions of people  in Las Vegas and Southern California. However, the resort primarily attracted day-trippers, and the resort wanted to sell more rooms and restaurant dining. Somehow they needed to persuade people to come to Brianhead, spend the night and stay a while. They tasked MI Marketing, their ad agency, with coming up with a plan to raise awareness that visitors could commit to lodging and have a longer experience. MI Market joined with V Digital Media to layer in a digital component.

MI Marketing created a full campaign that included radio and billboards to broadcast their message.  For programmatic and pay-per-click, however, they turned to V Digital Services to create a simultaneous buy of programmatic online ads that extended the reach beyond Las Vegas into the Southern California market  during the four to six months of the ski season. Components of the digital campaign included: 


The first part of the V Digital Media’s strategy was to select the right audiences using AdCellerant’s programmatic platform. Geographically the target was drivable tourist areas in Las Vegas and Southern California, within five to six hours of the resort.

Next, they narrowed this target demographicly to reach families with sufficient income and  with a behavioral interest in outdoor sports, skiing, and ski vacations. AdCellerant's platform has the option to select these behaviors. 

The result was a total 2.4 million impressions for the buy  in California and 600,000 in Las Vegas, averaging  600,000 per month, running from the day after Thanksgiving to the beginning of March the following year, wiht flexibility to line up the buy with the weather. 

In addition to demographic and behavioral targets, the campaign included search retargeting. This type of target identifies key search terms such as “ski vacations” and “Utah travel.” People who had searched on these terms were retargeted wherever they visited on the web for a period of time.

The group came up with nine different creative packages and tested six or seven of them, honing in to optimize for the ads with the best results over the months of the campaign.

“The ads were really creative and animated. We used photographer whihc looks great,” Ginsburg said. Ads included headlines like “Stay and play,” “Closer than you think,” “Brianhead, where you are family,” and “Heads up for fun" (see all the copy used in the attachments above). 

Determining Conversions
Since the camapign was largely branding and awareness, determining what would count as a conversion meant measuring a variety of engagement metrics.  The team decided to include any action  on a page, or when a certain number of pages were clicked in a single session,  or time spent on the site.  Any of these three were counted, tracked by pixels present on each page.

Adding Pay-per-click
Brianhead already had a pay-per-click ad campaign running, but Ginsburg pitched that his group at V Digital Media could deliver a better result for the money and were able to include this test in the buy. 


The total 3 million impressions generated 8524 total clicks, about .26 percent clickthrough from the ads, plus  41,000 post click and post impression “conversions, tracked by a pixel on the site.  

“The conversions were integrated with Google Analytics,” said, so they matched results the client was seeing on their own website.

Of the creatives, “Closer than you think” was Ginsburg's favorite, but “Stay and Play” delivered the highest results.

Search retargetting provided the highest CTR's overall  with a .36% rate, though some key months ran as high as .65 in California. The most valuable behavioral vector selected was  interest in travel for winter sports which had an effective .32 CTR.

“We have not had campaigns do that well since then. This campaign was insane. It was crazy,” Ginsburg said.

While “programmatic was the hook” that sold the agency, “I worked my way into the pay-per-click buy, he said, which paid off for the client. His group at V Digital Media was able to lower the cost-per-click from $13 to .46 cents.

Judges notes

There is so much to like about this campaign, starting with a well thought-out objective, closely matching the messaging visually and textually with the targeted audiences, and ending in outstanding results. Statistics show that using traditional media  - radio, tv, billboards or print - with online banner and search increases the performance of online ads, though it is hard to gage how much in this particular case. The post-click impressions - much higher than the original number of clicks - show the value of tracking conversions using pixels on the site. Without this extra step the value of these conversions would remain unknown. 

This campaign also demonstrates the power of straight-forward programmatic advertising to fuel interest in travel destinations on a seasonal basis, including hotels, resorts, towns, and cultural districts, by specifically targetting audiences in the right areas with corresponding behavioral interests and search history, even outside a media's core demographic. The performance in the Pay-per-Click ads was also exceptional. 

Congratulations to Brianhead Resorts and to Jeremy Ginsburg's team at V Digital Media for a winning campaign. 

Note: For more information on introducing programmatic to your media company's offering or for a private business, call LMI Marketing Services at 408.892.9815 or schedule a call in advance at this link. 

village voice, v digital media, brianhead, las vegas, las vegas neon, utah, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, programmatic, pay-per-click, adwords


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