Brand: Asheville, N.C.
Location Data Partner: Arrivalist
Measurement has become an important goal for brands using mobile
location data. And for Asheville, a river city that sits near the
western border of North Carolina, gauging which ad vendors and
platforms perform best for inspiring people to visit is a primary
"For a destination organization like ours, it's really difficult
to be able to have that endpoint of e-commerce that many websites
are able to use to create some understanding of ROI," said Marla
Tambellini, VP-marketing and deputy director for the Asheville
Convention and Visitors Bureau.
While the bureau has a booking widget on its website, many
people driven to the site by ads from the city may go on to book
travel to Asheville through other means.
Working with location-based ad measurement firm Arrivalist, Ms.
Tambellini and her team try to tell which vendors are most
effective when delivering messages like the city's "Let the Magic
Find You" slogan and touting its top ranking by Lonely Planet. The
city has just begun delving deeply into the results of various
programs it's run over the past year or so. "What we need to do is
kind of step back and look holistically at which mediums and which
sources are proving most effective for us," she said.
What It Did
The idea is to track which markets visitors come from, plus
whether ads influenced the decision. The city, which boasts a
tourism budget larger than that of the state of North Carolina, ran
a variety of ads on TV, in streaming video and on desktop and
Asheville advertises almost year-round, in early spring, then
again before autumn during August and September—what the city
calls its "harvest" campaign. Ads start up again for holiday time
and then in winter from January through March, which Asheville has
begun calling its "undiscovered season."
A campaign that ran last spring was used by the city to evaluate
vendors for the first time, said Ms. Tambellini. Arrivalist
determines mobile ad effectiveness by measuring mobile devices that
are present in specific locales and whether those same devices were
served tourism ads for that city. Reports also show where visitors
originated, top cities of origin and the number of days between
first ad exposures and visits.
Asheville looks at how quickly ad vendors and partners motivate
travel to the city, and seeks signs of softness in markets where
additional advertising might spur more visits.
Ads purchased through one vendor drove an arrival rate of 0.52
arrivals per 1,000 ad exposures compared with an average of 0.17
arrivals per 1,000 exposures from all paid media. And, when
Asheville aimed ads to residents of nearby Raleigh, N.C., between
January and September 2016, the percentage who arrived within seven
days was 16.8% higher than the average of all other markets during
the same period.
What It Learned
Having determined that one vendor's services worked best in
digital display for prospecting and retargeting on its spring 2016
campaign, the city decided to work with that firm again in the
fall. (It declined to name the vendor.)
Data showing how vendors perform "is an indicator as we start
our strategic planning," said Ms. Tambellini, adding that along
with other research, "This becomes a significant filter or
Asheville, which aims to become a destination for travelers from
across the country and not just the southeast, also plans to use
the data to determine whether ads in new markets have a positive
effect on awareness.