Slate Introduces ‘Blogvertorial’

In the hopes of luring sophisticated Americans to widen their travel horizons, the tourism boards of four overlooked European cities have teamed with Slate to create a series of blogs.

Cool Capitals, a coalition of tourism boards in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, is running the “blogvertorial” campaign for two months on Slate, beginning next week. The site helped Cool Capitals recruit four travel writers, including Slate contributor Elisabeth Eaves, to write blog entries from Vienna, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Zurich, highlighting each city’s “cool places” for fashion, nightlife and architecture.

The writers will be given topics to cover, but they will not be told what to write, said Charel van Dam, director of business to consumer at the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions. “You want the bloggers to write compelling stories,” he said. “If you tell them what to write, I’m sure the story won’t turn out right.”

Slate will drive users to the blogs with ad placements on the site, as well as a tab on the drop-down menu on its homepage. While non-editorial staffers will edit the entries, Slate publisher Cliff Sloan said the adverblogs would be clearly marked as separate from editorial content. “Our touchstone is clear labeling so there’s not user confusion,” he said.

To promote interactivity, visitors vote for a “photo of the day” and their favorite blog entry. The blogs will also promote a giveaway of a trip to visit any two of the European cities, and Slate has plans to make some of the blogs into Podcasts.