I can give you a list of reasons that non-net savvy fans know that Bowie was doing a fan freindly tour. These are all events from recent memory, or since most casual fans last saw Bowie live. US/Canada centric post, btw.
-Poughkepsie -Riverside -Europe opening -CC heavily promoting the tour. -recent tv appearances -last 3 albums were "commercial"(ie: no NIN or d'nb postering) -99 reissues -30th reissues -BOB cd -BOB dvd -Marathon tou -Marathon tour book -AREA2 tour setlists -AREA2 reviews that were almost DB only write-ups -New record label(db feeling optimistic) -WTC appearance in oct 2001(america/heroes) -cited as most influentiona musician in UK mag -new baby -Glasto press -BBC release with 2000 show -Roseland reviews -print interview friendliness -99 dates setlists -Kit Kat Klub show in US radio '99 -Bermuda show on US radio ' 02 -Storytellers '99 show -NetAid gig '99 -Bowie Bonds meaning Bowie was interesting in making money -Dumping Reeves, along with any lasting association with TM -Borneo Horns on heathen, like 83 tour. Mentioned in Heathen press release. -Pete Townshend on Heathen
I would think that all fans attending a show would have seen, heard, or heard about a couple of the above mentions events. About 25-30% of these events I read about in newspapers like the Vancouver Province. Some of them should have been printed elsewhere in Canada and less so in the States.