At the 2006 Destination Marketing Association International's (DMAI) annual conference, a presentation given by two CVBs described display advertising with such negative attributes as "old school," "intrusive," and having diminishing value, while keyword ads received more favorable descriptions. CVBs called Internet advertising as a whole a "dirty little secret" and seemed to believe the display ad picture that had been painted for them was rosier than the reality. With public bashing like this, no wonder DMOs are disenchanted.

Despite the cynicism, Henry Harteveldt, VP and principal analyst of travel research for Forrester Research, observed DMOs and CVBs have increased their online marketing noticeably, even compared with last year. "These marketers cannot afford to ignore any online options, but they're more focused on value," said Harteveldt.

Budget constraints play a big role in the new focus. DMOs and CVBs are municipally funded organizations, typically deriving their marketing dollars from local hotel, luxury, or airport taxes. Depending on how their governments allocate these tax dollars, the DMOs and CVBs may not have much more funding to play with in a given year than they did in previous years, so they're having to rob Peter to pay Paul. And the Peter they're robbing is the ad buy.

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