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Richard N. Velotta
 

Agency Analyzing Nevada Ad Results

11 March 2004

LAS VEGAS -- The Nevada Commission on Tourism has begun seeing results from its first-ever national television advertising campaign -- more than 5,000 responses in less than a month.

Commissioners have begun analyzing early data from the campaign, but cautioned that it's too early to make judgments on how successful it will be and which television networks will best deliver visitors to the state.

Representatives of DRGM Advertising at two meetings on Wednesday outlined for commissioners a media tracking study that began when the state's "Nevada. Wide Open" TV ad campaign began on Feb. 23.

Jennifer Evans, executive vice president of DRGM, said since tracking has only occurred for two weeks, it's too early to determine the effectiveness of the $500,000 buy on 12 national cable television networks.

Commissioner John Marz also said it's typical for TV ad viewers buying travel to store information away after they see an ad, then commit to a purchase weeks or months later.

The state's ad campaign is scheduled to run through June 30 and includes a 30-second spot that shows a collage of images showing outdoor activities that can be found in Nevada.

The ads are a dramatic contrast to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority's multimillion-dollar television ad campaign to draw visitors to Las Vegas with its "What happens here, stays here" theme. The state campaign is geared more toward appealing to adventure tourists and drawing people to rural parts of the state.

At a meeting of the Commission on Tourism's marketing committee, Evans said that DRGM is working with Ruf Strategic Solutions, Olathe, Kan., a marketing consulting company that is tracking the results of Nevada's ads.

Since ads on each network have different toll-free numbers for interested persons to call for additional information about the state, Ruf can track which network's ads get the best results for the state.

Viewers who call the toll-free number are sent the state's "Adventure Guide," which describes details of various attractions. More than 5,000 guides have been sent out as a result of the ads. The Ruf research also shows tracking from Nevada's Internet website hits.

Although DRGM and commissioners said they wouldn't make any judgments based on two weeks of research, some clear trends were emerging from Ruf's early data.

In the first two weeks, the most guides were sent to viewers who saw Nevada ads on the Travel Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, Spike TV and the Speed Channel. The weakest responses were from ESPN and ESPN2.

Commission Executive Director Bruce Bommarito said there's much more analysis necessary than determining "cost per lead" with the ads. Part of the goal of the ads, he said, is to familiarize people with Nevada's scenery and spark interest in future visits. To that end, he said, ESPN and ESPN2 could be good media buys because those networks reach so many more viewers than some of the other networks.

Bommarito said the early results of the campaign are encouraging enough for him to seek additional funds to extend the ad campaign beyond June 30, and Evans said updated film footage for new spots could show more varied seasons than the existing ads.

"I'm excited about how much (response) we've gotten in the short time we've been doing this," Bommarito said. "And, I'm also amazed at the rates."

Because DRGM planned a direct-response television campaign, the TV networks, knowing they are competing with each other for future business, give a favorable rate. Evans said the television buys are about one-third the normal national cable television ad rate.

DRGM also has negotiated with several outdoors-oriented magazines in which "Nevada. Wide Open" print ads are appearing to arrange for special rates for advertising and advertorial content from Nevada's rural destinations. The ads would appear on facing pages with the Nevada ads to give the appearance of a two-page spread.

Evans said the rural attractions can't afford to advertise in all publications, but arrangements have been sought with Sunset, Outside, Backpacker, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Via, Westway and Arizona High Roads magazines.

In other business at Wednesday's quarterly Commission on Tourism meeting, Bommarito said research has begun to determine if the state should target market motorcycle riders in the same way it target markets recreational vehicle owners.

Bommarito said the study is in its preliminary stages and could take the form of a special campaign next year if the commission concurs. He said many motorcycle riders share demographic profiles consistent with RV owners.

The state has run special tourism campaigns directed at RV operators, including the giveaway of a new motor home as a prize. Persons who entered the contest had to have visited Nevada attractions to be eligible.