Digitas' Third Act, Holiday Inn, Reel In Biz Travelers

screenshot of Smart ShowThe first official project out of Digitas' newly formed content creation and distribution arm, The Third Act, is the second season of "The Smart Show," Holiday Inn Express' Web-based video series geared toward business travelers.

New York-based The Third Act worked with production giant Endemol USA to develop all 40 of the 2- to 3-minute Webisodes, which go live at http://thesmartshow.blip.tv/ today. Viewers will also find business travel and tech blogs, a crowd-sourced Deal of the Week (D.O.W.), as well as the chance to win a new car through the "Ultimate Road Warrior Challenge."

The first season of "The Smart Show," which debuted in October 2007, followed two hosts on a cross-country trek from Boston to Los Angeles. While the new season will offer more of the same "man on the street"-style clips, product demos, and travel tips, The Third Act moved away from the narrative storyline in favor of episodes that focused on particular topics.

"We thought that the narrative structure of a trip would resonate well with travelers, but we found that they really wanted to dip in and out and find clips of the places that were interesting to them," said Ben Jones, creative director at Digitas. "So now the episodes are based on a theme, like 'What's your dream job?' and users will be able to find the related segments they want."

Another major change includes the show's new distribution partner, TripAdvisor. While Blip.tv will still host and syndicate the episodes overall, "The Smart Show" will serve as a new business travel-focused hub on TripAdvisor.com. The deal expands the show's potential audience by TripAdvisor's more than 25 million unique monthly visitors--a major positive since building reach was a key goal going into the second season.

"The first season had great results in terms of viewer numbers and lifts in primary brand metrics," Jones said. "And that's in spite of the fact that the show didn't include any explicit brand references. But the media strategy didn't have the kind of reach we wanted. The target saw the show and they loved it, but it didn't reach the optimal number of viewers."

Jones said that the TripAdvisor partnership offered "just the kind of distribution that we were looking for," and added a wealth of business travel content to the primarily consumer-based travel ratings and reviews site. "When we first met with TripAdvisor, they offered us banners and other inventory," Jones said. "But through discussion, we discovered that they needed business traveler content, so they decided to pull the entire Smart Show site in. That kind of media distribution and content development becomes much more efficient now that we have a distinct division in The Third Act."

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