Programmatic Media Can Transform Local Marketing

As programmatic has grown from pre-concept to fringe movement to mainstream, much of the focus has been on its impact on audience targeting.  While the ability to segment unique audiences independent of context is an extraordinary benefit, programmatic’s automation also creates a new ability to streamline complicated tactical challenges.   And nowhere are there greater challenges than in the local arena.

Brick-and-mortar retailers, franchises, dealer associations and many other national marketers with localized marketing needs struggle with digital media — display and video in particular — because the trafficking and analytics challenges of managing hundreds, if not thousands, of small campaigns are too daunting to tackle.
The emergence of programmatic technology platforms changes all of that. Programmatic creates operational efficiencies for local marketing organizations by automating thousands of individual efforts, allow companies to manage planning, campaign deployment, reporting and optimization centrally from a single platform, and tailored to meet market-specific needs.  



Yet local marketing organizations have not moved aggressively to embrace this new tool. That’s a missed opportunity but a huge advantage for local marketers who are first movers.  For those willing to take the plunge, here are five key steps:

Standardize technology and data. Allowing each local operator to use its own technology invites trouble. It’s critical that one programmatic technology is selected and implemented in all local units without exception. But it’s not enough to have everyone working off the same software platform; data needs to be aggregated from all local entities and ported into one centralized platform to create optimal efficiencies.

Scale creative with technology. With the critical need to build thousands of local ad creative units, it’s imperative to identify a solution allowing marketers to set rules that facilitate rapid iteration and localization.  A properly implemented dynamic creative solution can create more relevant ads, leveraging promotional offers in specific markets in real time.

Scale data by aggregating individual campaigns into cohorts. The challenge of local ad campaigns has been a lack of enough data in any one market to make good decisions. The quickest and most meaningful way to mitigate this limitation of scale is to create cohorts — bundling together 20 similar stores or locations — to amass more data, faster, for more readily recognizable insights.

Pool dollars to maximize efficiency. Creating budget flexibility by pooling dollars is the path to maximizing efficiency and impact. Pooling dollars prevents local marketers from “going rogue” and spending wastefully.  Second, centralizing dollars makes it possible to adjust and redistribute funds across various local campaigns in order to generate maximum value in a broader organizational sense for the brand. If marketers find that certain stores are getting a better response than others, they can take budget from a lower-performing store and apply it to successful ones.  

Designate one person in the organization as local programmatic czar. A shift to programmatic in a large organization requires coordinated effort.  Designate an owner in the organization with relevant experience centralizing large, disparate marketing groups.  Many local marketing organizations have already made this transition with search marketing and may find a model and/or an owner within their search team.

Change can be hard, especially for national or global organizations with myriad local constituents and marketing priorities.  But in this case the benefits are vast.  Those local marketers who do make the effort to pursue the path to programmatic will be rewarded with a nimble, efficient, and responsive digital media program and a competitive advantage over those who wait.

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