The Minnies Media Innovation Award — Best of Show

Posted on January 28th, 2020 by True Media

Last week was an exciting week at True Media as our team brought home the Best of Show award from the Advertising Federation of Minnesota’s Media Innovation Awards, also known as The Minnies. Here is an overview of the campaign that truly showcased the brilliant and innovative minds at True Media.


Explore Minnesota was searching for a positioning strategy to help build visitorship in a uniquely authentic way…  Enter the North.

Over the past decade, a grassroots movement has been shifting Minnesota away from the stereotypes of the Midwest. From major sports teams and local consumer brands to fashion and pop culture, everyone is taking their own route “North.” The Super Bowl welcomed the world to the “Bold North;” the Timberwolves invite “All Eyes North;” the Vikings promise to “Defend the North;” and the Minnesota United proclaim the “North Is Rising.” The movement was there — it just needed a strong voice to align it. The campaign’s tagline, Find Your True North, is an invitation to discover something new in the world and within yourself. 


The objective of the campaign was to promote the new tagline through various media channels and encourage people to travel to and within Minnesota. The goal of the campaign was to take the message to a national level using very focused targeting. Using research to determine why people travel to Minnesota, beyond just visiting family and friends, niche audience segments were created to target at the national level with this hyper-focused approach. Within the Spring/Summer campaign, targets included Mountain Biking, Hiking, and Arts & Culture. The niche campaigns were developed to encourage these people who have already found their “True North” passions and are willing to travel to experience it. And if they’re willing to travel and experience it, why not Minnesota?

Because travel planning decisions take longer than a typical transaction, two KPIs were used to measure the campaign — short term: site traffic; long term: actual visitation to the state.


There were three components to each of the niche campaigns. 

  1. Each campaign launched with digital tactics to reach the identified audience. This included display, video, programmatic, native, and social. Ads within this portion of the campaign featured key locations in the state where it is possible to experience the passion activity, all driving to a custom landing page to learn more.  Beyond that, ads included additional activities that each niche may also be interested in, based on research. For instance, the mountain biking audience indexed high to also be interested in hiking and craft breweries.
  2. Incorporating content partnerships with relevant, recognizable local and national brands. These partners developed custom content with their unique voice to showcase Minnesota as a travel destination to experience their passion.
  3. The content that was created was then promoted to our national niche audience, using channels aligning with the content that was created. All content amplification drove people back to the content partners website as we wanted to ensure that the user was given a consistent experience based on what they clicked on. A retargeting strategy was then deployed, where consumers who reached the partner content were retargeted with Explore Minnesota niche creative, driving back to relevant content housed on the Explore Minnesota website.

To halo these niche campaigns, we also had an overarching general awareness branding campaign where both digital and traditional media were utilized. Four TV spots were created, featuring four distinct regions of the state, and capturing a variety of activities within each area. Spots were run in key markets in both linear TV as well as Connected TV. To drive additional awareness of the new campaign, a print strategy was put in place to reach consumers in a travel mindset. Digital campaigns included display, rich media, interactive video, native, email, and social media. 


The Campaign ran from April 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019 and was very successful in driving traffic to the site. During this timeframe, there was an increase in traffic by 5% year over year, with an increase of new users by 6%. Time on site increased by 8%, showing that with the change in national strategy, we were able to drive not only more traffic to the site, but also engaged users.

Visitation was measured using a partner who was able to identify a person who saw an Explore Minnesota ad, and then actually entered the state borders. In order to capture these visitors, location based geofences were set up in key locations throughout the state.

Our geofences were broken up into three different categories: Outdoor (biking + hiking trails), Arts & Culture (museums, historical monuments, etc.), and Accommodations (hotels + campgrounds), based on our specific campaign breakouts (General, Hiking, Biking, Arts & Culture).

Overall, 232MM total media impressions were delivered throughout the entirety of the campaign, with a website visit total of 2.5MM. There was a total of 598K visits tracked by Factual pixels, generating a 0.3% visit rate. Of those visits, display creatives generated 47% of overall conversions — meaning someone who saw a display creative, also went into one of the geofenced locations around the state. Native ads were the second highest, generating 30% of overall conversions.

In addition to an increase in site traffic, there was also an increase in traffic to the ExploreMinnesota website from states that were touched by the niche campaigns, but were not previously advertised to. Some states such as Tennessee and Wyoming saw an increase in traffic of over 65%. With the ultimate goal of the campaign to be to expose Minnesota nationally to extremely niche audiences, These increases were a huge win.