This is an interesting blog post about the Maine Office of Tourism and their bull in a china shop like blundering into the world of Search Engine Marketing. To be fair, I think at least half of the blame goes to companies like Google for making Adwords so difficult for the advertisers to understand. While it may make perfect sense for the Maine Office of Tourism to promote Maine using PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising, the author of this blog, Lance Dutson, points out that the end result of their efforts is to drive the pricing up for legitimate Maine businesses. It brings the question to mind, if someone is searching at a place like Google for the terms “maine accomodations” one would suppose that they’re already intending a trip to Maine. Thus, is it really an effective use of the Office of Tourism’s budget to bid on those keywords? If they really wanted a return for their buck, perhaps they should advertise on keyword such as “new hampshire accomodations” and try to poach some tourists from their neighbors. The other part of Mr. Dutson’s complaint is that the Office of Tourism, by using a firm that really does not understand the basics of PPC advertising, their ads appear on keywords such as “Bangor Maine plumbing” which they really have no business doing. So, not only do resorts, hotels, inns and such in Maine have to compete with the Office of Tourism, but so does Paul the plumber in Bangor. Kudos out to Threadwatch for leading me to this post.
Please read in the comments, Thomas McCartin from the firm that manages the Maine Office of Tourism’s PPC campaign was kind enough to post his side of this interesting story.