Advertising Effectiveness & ROI Research

You believe you are making a difference. Your advertising is attracting visitors, providing cash register receipts for local businesses, and generating tax revenues. How do you quantify the impact of your investment for stakeholders, the media, and elected officials? How do you uncover insights that will plot the course ahead?


SMARInsights has conducted hundreds of Advertising Effectiveness and ROI Studies for destinations and attractions of all types and sizes – local, regional, domestic and international – using robust methodologies that are transparent and defensible. And, through our wealth of experience we have compiled industry benchmarks to gauge the success of your marketing efforts.  


Our methodology is an open book. We do not use any proprietary numbers or formulas. There is nothing we can’t show you. We developed, and continue to use, this methodology because we understand the need to create community confidence and buy-in for ad effectiveness and ROI findings. In fact, a key element of our client partnership is being available to walk stakeholders through the methodology, to help build credibility for the results.


We base our economic impact and ROI calculations on incremental travel because it provides a good option for determining the additional visits that were generated as a result of the advertising. The level of travel among those who are unaware of the advertising is the baseline – the level we assume would have occurred in the absence of advertising. Additional travel among those with ad awareness is attributed to the ads and is considered incremental travel. 


Another feature that differentiates SMARInsights from other vendors is our reporting. We do not simply provide a summary of questions and answers. We develop reports that provide the right information at the right time and in the right form.


SMARInsights Advertising Effectiveness and ROI studies typically address:


  • Market Perceptions: An assessment of how respondents view the area and identification of specific perceptions that are linked to increased interest in traveling.
  • Advertising Awareness/Exposure: Advertising awareness, awareness of individual ads and types of ads, and cost per aware household.
  • Creative Evaluation: Respondents evaluate the campaign for its ability to communicate key messages and generate interest in visiting. 
  • Advertising Impact: Advertising impact is evaluated by comparing the perceptions and behaviors of those aware of the ads to the perceptions and behaviors of those not aware of the ads.
  • Incremental Travel: The key measure of advertising impact, incremental travel is the difference in the level of visitation between those who have seen the ads and those who have not.
  • Economic Impact: The additional spending linked to the incremental travel generated.
  • Return on Investment/Return on Tax Investment: A comparison of the cost of the campaign to the spending and tax revenues generated by incremental travel to the area.
  • Coronavirus Issues: The current situation requires destinations to explore issues surrounding the virus and its impact on travel choices and attitudes.
  • Brand Lift: Quantifying the impact of your advertising on the reputation and awareness of your community that supports non-tourism economic development objectives.
  • Insights relative to the overall effectiveness of the advertising and options for improvement.

We have developed industry benchmarks to assess the effectiveness of campaigns to help pinpoint areas of opportunity.










Case study: Utah Office of Tourism

SMARInsights has worked with the Utah Office of Tourism (UOT) on measuring the effectiveness of its marketing since the agency received an additional $10 million aimed at marketing. The goals of the research have been two-fold: to support the value of the additional funding and to measure its impact, and to provide information for UOT to use in refining its marketing efforts.

The information has proved extremely valuable to both UOT and the state’s tourism industry in garnering support for additional funding. As Utah, along with many other states, has faced severe budget shortfalls, there has been a push to reduce tourism funding. While an initial cut was made, the latest budget from the governor did not recommend further cuts. The industry has indicated that having the ROI information makes it easier and more effective to approach legislators and “make the case” for continued funding of the tourism marketing efforts.

Additionally, the information has helped UOT, its marketing committee and the ad agency make a number of tactical decisions. The information has been “mined” to address issues such as the effectiveness of a 30-second versus a 60-second television ad, the best geographic markets, the optimal media strategy and the impact of various creative messages.

The results have been strong, and UOT has generated one of the strongest ROIs that SMARI has measured. Perhaps most important, UOT was able to improve its ROI during 2009 even though overall travel was down.


Other Projects

Arizona Office of Tourism
Chicago Convention & Visitors Bureau
Colorado Tourism Office
Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau
Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Georgia Department of Economic Development
Texas Tourism Office of the Governor
Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau
Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association
Maryland Office of Tourism
St. Louis Convention & Visitors Association
Wyoming Travel & Tourism