Ocean City Today

Ocean City uses multi-tiered approach to reach audience

By Katie Tabeling | Jul 27, 2017

(July 28, 2017) As Ocean City officials develop a survey to collect demographic information on the resort’s visitor base, the one thing they do know is what they’re doing to reach visitors from the Mid-Atlantic region.

For more than 15 years, the city’s advertising contractor, MGH Advertising of Baltimore, has been delivering the resort’s message to regional population centers through avenues as varied as television, radio and the small screens of a smartphones.

“Once upon a time, you could put an ad on a popular television show like ‘Laverne and Shirley’ and we’d reach a huge audience,” Tourism Director Donna Abbott said. “It’s not like that now. People are getting their information from a variety of mediums. The television and radio ads encourage a broad awareness.”

The large scope of Ocean City’s marketing plan includes billboard, cable ads and radio jingles in major cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and Baltimore as well as the suburban areas and communities that radiate out from them. Also targeted by the campaign are the states of New York and New Jersey.

The resort also has a strong social media presence, and is featured on web banners on the top or bottom of a website. MGH has purchased few spotlight ads for Ocean City, but that includes key travel websites such as TripAdvisor on pages for competing markets.

MGH President Andy Malis said his firm also marries the broad approach with a synchronized marketing enterprise that involves television advertising and online searches.

“When a television ad airs in our destination marketing areas, and moments later someone goes online, they’ll see another banner ad that ties them back to Ocean City,” Malis said. “Other tactics include working with weather websites. It’s cloudy in Baltimore, but it’s sunny in Ocean City.”

Building on the family-friendly resort image, Ocean City officials decided years ago the best chance to reach that demographic is to market to women.

“Most likely, women are making the decisions on where to vacation – the mothers that need a break or that are planning the family’s vacation,” Abbott said. “If there’s interest in changing the parameters of our advertising, that would require a larger discussion through strategic planning.”

Ocean City’s desired demographic, according to Malis is women between the ages 29 to 49, with two children and an income of $100,000.

“That may seem like we’re looking for a lot, but we’re advertising to working couples where the cost of living is a little high,” he said.

The 2015 census data shows the median income per household in Baltimore City is $42,240. In Washington, D.C. it’s $74,551, while Philadelphia is $38,253 and Pittsburgh is $40,715.

Because “median income” is the halfway point between high and low total incomes, that means the marketing effort is seeking households in the top 20 to 25 percent earnings bracket.

Looking at states whole, Maryland’s median income is $74,550, Pennsylvania is $104,653, New York is $59,269 and New Jersey is $72,093. Persons per household range between 2.49 to 2.7 for these states.

According to the 2016 zip code survey, most of Ocean City’s visitors hail from Pennsylvania. Out of 21,000 visitors responding to the survey, 38 percent were from the Keystone State, and 35 percent were from Maryland.

Five percent of the surveyed visitors came from New York, four percent from New Jersey and two percent from Delaware.

Malis said that while MGH is focusing on capturing a certain demographic, Ocean City continues to attract visitors outside the market.

“Online’s a bit better because we can skewer our advertising demographics with programs, but with larger ads, we can reach all ages and economic backgrounds,” he said. “We’re as tightly focused as much as Ocean City’s money can allow us to be.”

Ocean City’s marketing budget is $6.1 for fiscal year 2017. The City Council renewed a marketing contract with MGH for $23,000 per month.

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