TDC Narrows Pool Down to Three Website Companies

Friday, during a special workshop the TDC’s Interactive Committee, Marty McDaniel and Buddy Wilkes, whittled the 6 companies that submitted Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) down to their top three.

The six companies that submitted RFQ’s are as follows:

  • Simple View Inc.
  • Jennifer Barbee Inc.
  • Miles Media
  • Cyber Sytes
  • The 543 Group
  • Ypartnership

Susan Estler, VP of Marketing for the CVB recommended Simple View, Jennifer Barbee, and Miles Media as the top three that had the capability and capacity to handle the interactive needs of Panama City Beach.

According to Ms. Estler, Simple View had excellent references.  All of their existing clients were extremely satisfied with their performance, and to date, Simple View has yet to lose a client.  Their client list spans from Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Scottsdale, Park City, and tons more.  One of the more important issues discussed was the database that will be amassed with this new interactive initiative, and Simple View assured us that the database that is created using our initiatives will, indeed, be ours (well, the CVB’s).  This is a huge issue with our current agency, Miles Media, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

Second on Ms. Estler’s recommendation list was Jennifer Barbee, Inc.  Jennifer Barbee is a newly formed interactive marketing agency that comes from very well developed roots.  Jennifer’s position was secured in this list because of her background with USDM, who is considered somewhat the industry standard in interactive marketing.  The database issue is not existent as the data amassed will belong to the CVB.  As an added bonus, Barbee uses the same database system as the CVB, further easing the movement of data from the agency to the CVB. Her experience and work portfolio is in line with what the CVB is looking for, in fact, so much so, that the only reason she is in second is because of her company being in its infancy.

The third on the list was Miles Media.  Miles Media is the current interactive agency holding the reigns of the CVB web site,, and there are several issues with this relationship, with the major issue being who controls the database.  Marty McDaniel and Buddy Wilkes both agreed that in the past, Miles Media has been very uncooperative in sharing the database that the Panama City Beach CVB marketing efforts has generated.  That is to say, they will not let us have the database that, essentially, we paid for through our marketing efforts that they deployed.  Miles Media’s excuse is that all of the user data that all of their campaigns generates is shared with the Visit Florida database and that once it enters that database, it belongs to that “domain”, and can’t be given out to individual clients.  I would agree, that the Panama City Beach CVB should not be given access to a database that includes data from campaigns or efforts that are other than their own, however (and this is a big however), there is no reason why Miles Media can’t distinguish the difference between “our” data and the data of someone else’s marketing efforts.  Further more, if they are submitting the data to some “master” database, then there is no reason that they can’t duplicate “our” data so as to keep it segregated.  If they can’t, I would submit that that is their problem, not ours, and they just need to figure it out.  As the contact database administrator of over 750,000 contacts, I can assure you that if I told the principles of my company that I can’t distinguish the difference between different databases within the database, I would have been fired a long time ago.

There are nifty things called computers and programs that allow people to do cool things like organize data however you want, need, or desire to based on whatever you want.

As indicated by the committee members, the database issue in the past with Miles Media has been unsolvable.  The committee felt that moving forward, Miles Media would continue to be unwilling to change their approach on this issue.  The committee members decided that it would be prudent to ask the question up front whether Miles Media would be willing to share with the Panama City Beach CVB the database their marketing efforts generate, and if the answer was still no, they would be moved to position 4, and have virtually no chance on continuing to be the interactive agency of record.  At this point, Cyber Sytes would replace Miles Media in position and move to position three.

You don’t have to be told that it was decided that Cyber Sytes would be in position four.  It was agreed upon by all present that Cyber Sytes has a very talented team and in the last two years, they have made very positive movement by way of bringing on talented graphics arts staff and have grown professionally and artistically.  They have become virtually THE web design firm in Bay County, and have been recognized for this.  However, the committee agreed, they just didn’t think Cyber Sytes was “ready” for the CVB.

The process moving forward will include a special meeting to be called sometime in between next Wednesday’s meeting (agenda forthcoming) and the next scheduled meeting to hear presentations from the top two agency picks, Simple View, Inc., and Jennifer Barbee, Inc.

I will, of course, be covering these meetings, so stay tuned.

11 thoughts on “TDC Narrows Pool Down to Three Website Companies

  1. Jason,

    Did the TDC/CVB state a budget and list criteria for the new design? We were able to get most all of our desired components built in our new site for what I imagine will be a fraction of the cost of their new design. I’d like to know if anyone at the CVB wants some information on the vendors we used to cut costs. For that matter, check out to view their work.

    Thanks Jason-


  2. CyberSytes not “ready” for the CVB?
    …verus a newly formed (2007) company…
    …verus an uncooperative company…

    How lame can you get ?
    I love it when I see words
    coming out of both sides of
    someone’s mouth.

    I have read in the paper that
    CyberSytes has done a lot of
    local work and has won national awards.

    If they are not “ready”,
    which I challenge,
    and if they are the only local company
    submitting an RFQ,
    then the CVB should consider giving
    the taxpayer double the bang for the buck
    and by allowing them to “incubate”
    (as in “business incubator”) to whatever
    they conmsider “ready” and thus support
    business development in Bay County
    so that Cyber Sytes may compete more
    readily in this type of market and
    thus expand our business base.

    That would seem to be more in line
    with the overall goals of the county,
    and the taxpayer…


  3. $100,000.00? – That’s quite a hefty price tag for an eCommerce website, considering today’s technology allows businesses and individuals to purchase a fully optimized website template for less then $2000.00.

    All that would remain after purchase of a template is customized programming and data feeds which could easily be accomplished for less then $50,000.00.

    In regards to the database: Any data as well as the underlying structure to support the data always belongs to the client who paid for it’s development as well as the client who “feeds” the database.

    Proper database design is a basic and fundamental principle that allows segregation of data across enterprise data structures. For a company to say the data belongs to a domain and can not be distinguished from other data, is quite an interesting tactic.

    Any development company submitting an excuse in that vain should be steered clear of. And I don’t mean walk away, I mean RUN and run very fast! It is unheard of to offer such an explanation.

    The only explanation that can be gleaned from that excuse is poor design and improper data collection methods. In my opinion this is an amatuer concept at best and very poor design.

    As far as CYSY: I have to agree, they are not ready. Graphical awards mean nothing except “pretty looking” pages. That is not what makes a good website. A website may contain the prettiest graphics and pictures, but if no one finds the site, it is useless. The meat and potatoes of any website is the underlying programming that allows a website to be displayed and data driven. Using that technology, CYSY has a very long way to go. One needs to simply examine several of their customers websites in depth to identify their technology and design methodologies. I don’t mean from a users perspective, but from a technical perspective by someone who knows the difference between a pretty picture and a well made, fully optimized website.

    Another question that needs to be addressed: “What is included for that $100,000.00”? Does it include any Search Engine Optimization or marketing campaign, content creation and distribution and so many more processes that are used in promoting websites in todays internet structure across the World Wide Web? Again, without proper techniques being employed to help visitors find the site through the search engines you might as well distribute that $100k to the residents as it would provide about the same ROI, which is $0.00!

    While testimonials are a way to judge a companies past performance, it should not be the only one used. While a few of the companies selected may have won “Bronze” awards, I would think the company you really want is the one that won the “Gold” award. Then again, what do I know.

    IMO, this is but another mis-informed decision made without acquiring facts and performing due diligence.

    I’ve often found it interesting how people making technical decisions make them without having the background to do so. A standard of practice, specially in regards to technical practices and decisions should be made by qualified individuals who have the expertise to do so.

    If you don’t have the expertise, you hire a consultant to make recommendations based on your criteria, needs and growth requirements.

    Best of luck.


  4. Furthermore, depending on the contract the TDC signed with Miles Media, I would consider legal action to access the data. Permission-based marketing lists take a long time to develop and are very valuable.


  5. Hello Jason,

    I found your report troubling, in that I have always taken pride in operating my business transparently with the goal of providing real solutions to our clients. With that spirit in mind, there is some confusion and factual inaccuracy in your report which I would like to clear up.

    1) PCB owns all of the data (marketing leads, business listing information and otherwise) associated with and associated marketing efforts.

    2) The current site is running on a business agreement and infrastructure that is nearly seven years old – both need to be updated which is why we have been excited about this bid opportunity.

    3) The VISIT FLORIDA data sharing that is referred to in your post relates to business listing information that displays on the site, not consumer marketing leads (they are stored separately for each of our clients).

    4) Tied to the point above, PCB does not pay for the use of that business listing database or the associated extensive data collection service – it was an added value service piggybacking on the statewide database that helped control costs on the project when we initially bid (albeit, it is a business model that made more sense in 2002 that it does today).

    5) Concerning access to change the business listings, because the data is shared between multiple tourism marketing sites, our solution has been to go direct to tourism businesses to update their information across multiple sites.

    6) Regarding email marketing leads, while there were initially some technological issues with automating the process of providing these leads to Ypartnership, this issue has been solved. Ypartnership is currently receiving the leads on a regular basis.

    7) We currently have a solution which allows for PCB to have its own database (again, PCB has always owned the data under our current contract and will own it in the future) – that is what we are proposing.

    8) We have made multiple recommendations/proposals to accommodate PCB’s changing needs in recent years which have not been acted upon due to budget constraints.

    My perspective is that we are operating under a business agreement and using infrastructure that has outlived its years and that has created frustration on all sides. We are excited at the opportunity to get a fair shake at presenting a custom solution to PCB and to develop a relationship predicated on clear communication with the new leadership in place at the TDC.

    Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

    Roger Miles
    President & C.E.O.
    Miles Media


  6. I just wanted to chime in a bit on the situation with Miles Media. The information given here is not the complete picture and leaves many questions to be asked.

    But I’m trying to look at this and come up with a reason as to why Miles Media isn’t willing to hand over the data. I’m wondering, when the people who’s names are in that database signed up, what did they agree to? Did they agree to allow their information to be passed to the TDC? If not, then I have to say that I agree with Miles Media on this. The user’s wishes must be respected.

    I would really like to see some clarification in this area.


  7. Snowbirds –
    I have worked with them and have enjoyed it.
    I know a few are cranky, but naerly all
    I have seen are very nice. They keep my places
    full in winter and enjoy staying there.
    I hope the TDC can attact more of them.

    For the Canadians, the one largest expense they have
    is the health insurance they must pay when they
    leave the country due to thier madatory socialized
    medical system. They must find a private insurance
    pays the cost of care until they can be transported
    back to Canada.

    Perhaps a TDC group could be formned
    to look into the issue this winter and
    make some recommendations to give us an edge
    here. I would be happy to help.

    John Kittler


  8. Dear Mr. Roger Miles, President & C.E.O. Miles Media,

    Thank you… for what, you may ask? Well you just admited that you used state funding to generate a database that you are using for personal gain, which may I remind you is illegal!! You just admitted that the MILLIONS of dollars that the state of Florida spends to operate & .org is benefiting Miles Media outside of the contract to the State of Florida, thus giving Miles Media an unfair advantage to everyone else bidding again you on any other web related project.

    And I quote, “4) Tied to the point above, PCB does not pay for the use of that business listing database or the associated extensive data collection service – it was an added value service piggybacking on the statewide database that helped control costs on the project when we initially bid (albeit, it is a business model that made more sense in 2002 that it does today).”

    Someone should as for an investigation into Miles Media and see how much money they are making off the State of Florida and how much advantage this has given them.

    Only in the South!!!


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