SM: Where did you get the idea for your current venture?
CL: When I wrote a business plan for online advertising on Fodors.com, I knew that Fodor’s had an affluent audience eager to spend thousands of dollars planning the best two weeks of their year. This is an appealing prospect to advertisers.
But at Rough Guides we didn’t have that reach. We had the targeting–and travel advertising is ALL about geographic targeting—but we didn’t have critical mass of inventory for any given geography. We were, in a word, small.
So when Jim Donelley and Tony Cheng at Igougo.com asked me if I could help sell ads on their site, it occurred to me that you can get enough reach and develop a critical mass of targeting by combining the audiences of multiple websites.
No one site in our network had enough Delaware page views to justify an ad campaign targeted to Delaware but, as a network, we reached more people planning trips to Delaware than any other media outlet.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking … Delaware? The same concept applies to Vegas, Paris, London and all the usual suspects. But I like Delaware. The Internet does three things particularly well—it collapses geographic boundaries, it demolishes barriers to entry for media companies and it fragments audiences. We feel we’re positioned to take advantage of all those.
SM: Doing something really fun!
CL: There’s a contact buzz that you get from working with travel. I truly believe that travel is evolving as a lifestyle, not just a mode of transport. In an industrial economy, wealth is the accumulation of goods. In an information economy, wealth is an accumulation of experiences—it’s how you spend your time on the planet—and travel is the experience that most folks spend their lives looking forward to. To be around that buzz is an inspiring environment to be in, especially if you’re working 16 hours a day.