A larger share of Saratoga County’s tourism promotion advertising is being shifted to the Internet this year, and potential visitors are being more specifically targeted, county officials were told Wednesday.
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, which contracts to do the county’s tourism marketing, is spending about one-third of its $346,000 in county funding on online marketing and expects the visits to its Web-based tourism sites this year to be 24 million — up 50 percent from last year.
The new campaign is part of an annual effort to promote Saratoga regional tourism. People have long visited in the summer for mineral springs and horse racing as well as the region’s scenic beauty and cultural offerings, making tourism one of the county’s leading industries.
This year, the chamber will be spending $117,647 in county money on a campaign that targets specific potential visitors based on websites they’ve previously visited. The chamber has contracted with The Goodway Group, an online advertising company.
Goodway uses tracking software to show Saratoga County promotional ads to people whose computer use shows they might be interested.
“We’re told — pretty much guaranteed — that we will increase our [Web visits] 50 percent, to 24 million, by tracking individuals,” chamber President Todd Shimkus said.
In previous years, the county’s online ads have been placed on specific websites, and anyone who visited one of the sites would see them. Under the new arrangement, county promos will show up on users’ computer screens if the users have visited relevant websites.
“For example, when someone searches the Web for vacation ideas in New York, if their income and interests meet our criteria, they will be served our ad in real time regardless of the website they are visiting,” Shimkus explained in a memo presented Wednesday to the county’s Economic Development Committee, which met in Ballston Spa.
“It means the campaign is more efficient, as impressions are not wasted on those who come to a website regardless of their interest in our offer,” he wrote in the memo. The new approach also allows the chamber to adjust the ad campaign on a weekly basis based on the response to its ads. There’s also the ability to tell if someone comes back to a Saratoga tourism ad, even if they don’t click it during their initial visit to a website.
The county’s primary demographic targets for its tourism campaign are well-educated, high-income households within a 100-to-300-mile radius. Markets where the county advertises include New York City and northern New Jersey, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal, as well as smaller cities like Syracuse and Burlington, Vt.
With more people over the past decade doing their vacation planning online, Shimkus said the chamber is doing less television, radio and print advertising and at some point may drop those traditional advertising mediums altogether.
“The inquiries from print ads are dropping, quite frankly,” he said.