Local advertising – are you taking advantage?

What do you think of when I say local? Do you think community halls and corner shops? Do you think niche audiences and hard to scale reach? Do you think local is the opposite to national when it comes to your ad campaigns? Or are you just too time-poor with your main priority: driving the national large-scale reach of your brand?

Well we see things differently.

Local is a fundamental targeting strategy and a pivotal audience mindset that, if you can utilise correctly, can make your national campaigns work harder, resonate with your audience in a more meaningful way and allow brands to maximise the return on their ad spend.

Local advertising strategies are not just for small businesses as you may initially think. A supermarket or clothing brand will get more out of their blockbuster Christmas campaigns by knowing what regions they need to flex their SOV in, or what stores might be struggling that need additional attention or which are doing particularly well that they can take advantage of. Similarly, key projects can see significant incremental gains when campaigns focus on local level activation, such as O2 stores’ successful product launch of the latest Google Pixel phone.

Equally, you’d struggle to find a marketer who wouldn’t agree that aligning an aspect of an EMEA campaign to the DACH or UK markets is the bare minimum of best practice. Understanding your footprint, be it nationally or internationally, allows you to be more tactical in your approach. The output at the end of the day will still be a national outdoor campaign or international social takeover for example, but how wonderful if, with a little bit of effort, you can make that a more meaningful activation depending on what an individual area or territory needs?

What do you mean by local planning strategies?

We mean a few things depending on the scenario. It can be using data to understand how budget and media need to be weighted based on the variances region to region. It can also be using local insight to create bespoke media plans at a local level that all feed into a national campaign be that in terms of panel selection for outdoor for example or personalised messaging relevant to a specific area. In essence it is thinking about the micro details as part of the macro approach; a bit like the tried and tested performance funnel.

Is it going to cost me more and create a huge amount more work for my team?

Not necessarily! For most media channels, specification of regional upweights or downweights comes at no extra ad cost but does require additional input from brand and agency to deliver and decipher the data and translate that into actionable insights that can be shared with media owners. Having the right expertise and tools to adequately assess micro audience profiling is key here. Similarly, advances in executing campaigns such as with dynamic and API integrated creative solutions (increasingly known as Performance Creative) which have accelerated over the past 12 months enable brands (from a digital perspective) to cost-efficiently serve bespoke messages at scale, overcoming historic barriers such as the high cost of tailoring multiple iterations/rounds of creative. The combination of this responsive creative and timely data interpretation is a powerful one and allows us to offer clients a seamless experience in getting what is a complicated activation off the ground with minimal pain.

Are the objectives going to clash if we run local and national activity at the same time?

Organisation and team integration is key. Often, we find that brands may have different teams to look after national activity vs. regional activity. Take leading national house builder Cala Homes for example. They have an overarching group marketing team who look after the national/brand approach but then eight additional teams who are responsible for their own region and inevitably have a more sales-driven approach with targets to achieve. In order for these to work together it is vital that as their agency we have visibility of what is happening at all levels to ensure consistency of message and that regionally, we are leveraging anything happening on a national level. But it also works the other way: things that work well regionally, such as messages with strong positive sentiment, should be fed up to a national level to amplify. If a specific region is struggling, we can upweight national brand media to help move the dial.

Will this overcomplicate the customer journey?

Actually, the opposite. At the end of the day, you need to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. They do not see the countless hours and deliberation that goes into a brand’s media plans or complicated messaging matrices. They just see the ads. Giving them a combination of brand messaging and personalised regionally targeted messaging will make the ads more relevant, relatable, and useful to them, and that is what advertising needs to be. Planning locally and rolling out nationally gives brands the best chance of a meaningful connection with their audience. When this is done right it simplifies the customer journey, like making your final point of sale such as a store/franchise/office more accessible. This can be as simple as proper localised store-level SEO, and, when used effectively such as by the coffee shop chain Caffe Nero, the results speak for themselves.

At Space & Time, we specialise in delivering growth for brands with a nationwide footprint. If you’d like to learn more about leveraging store/branch level performance, then get in touch.