Local Market Insights Hold Valuable Keys To Develop Better Ad Spend Return

A unifying axiom in marketing is that all purchasing is done by individuals and media campaigns can help influence the context and outcomes of this consumer behavior. However, with the proliferation of new media, ad formats and audience behaviors, marketers are challenged to orchestrate among these touch points to create effective campaigns.

Ad investments are still allocated to national and local geographies, but a quest for cost effectiveness has facilitated a migration toward aggregation models that primarily service nationalized trends. In turn, this may have created a dysfunctional system and concurrently disconnected a generation of media and marketing professionals from the foundational base of critical inputs.

Advancing technology platforms provide sophisticated analytical tools with more defined data and targeting capabilities. The challenge is that much of the evaluation assumes that where someone lives and the contextual cues this can provide to marketers has less relevance than other targeting signals.



Namely, individual local markets and the panoply of characteristics that make them unique are incredibly influential in determining consumer outcomes. With all of our data, tools and technologies, we may be getting away from that basic reality – local matters.

Programmatic digital buying seeks to automatically deliver against the premise it reaches the right person, at the right time, with the right message in the right channel. With technologies such as Dynamic Creative Optimization, programmatic workflow could do this at scale for local campaigns. But planners and buyers need to develop and measure campaigns against a standard of local matters, local signals increase brand and engagement lift. We see that in the research, we need to build it into our campaigns.

Local market economies are similar to companies. They are highly differentiated and often specialize in a unique blend of goods and services. In the US, local metros have pragmatically driven specific local and regional initiatives by recognizing the importance of data to prioritize their economic development plans and build better exchange networks around managing diverse challenges set forth by demographic and economic shifts.

Despite these local initiatives, it has received little attention or validation from media and marketing industry practitioners.This is not a good situation if our goal is to invest client media spending in the most effective manner possible. National marketers acknowledge that local matters and BIA/Kelsey show this to be a growing investment area by national marketers rising nearly 20% from $50.5 billion spent in media to target local audiences in 2015 to $59.7 billion by 2019.

We need to help national marketers be smarter about their local investment and activation to drive the best ROAS. Interestingly, local SMBs who live and work in the same markets as their customers are increasing their own investment in local audience targeting at the same rate.

National brand investments in local markets are generally managed from multiple budget sources and tactics but could be working harder if a holistic local market data set existed. There are five focus areas to help organize consensus.

  1. Local markets help frame an effective means toward building complementary foundational data and research principles that enable insightful, transparent datasets for target definition and delivery.    
  2. Historically, local metrics have  been limited to panel based samples and surveys collected at certain times of the year. Collaboration among government  agencies and local market leaders is creating timely access to open source local data.
  3. Real change won’t come unless data literacy and transparency are the drivers of deals. By building foundational data that is supported by information about people and events through common local collection methods, it can create more consistent and reliable metrics for measurement, both at the hyper local level and an aggregated national level.
  4. Disruption percolates at the local level and competition is rising from nontraditional movements like the local on-demand economy.
  5. Collaboration at the local level will enable faster cross market development for standard data blueprints. Both traditional and new media channels must join together and contribute to local market data standards and assist in a synchronistic adoption across markets.

Local metros are important prosperity drivers and as marketers face new and unprecedented challenges in reaching consumers in a more integrated manner, a shift back toward pragmatic planning and analysis from a ground up approach will likely prove valuable to everyone.


2 comments about "Local Market Insights Hold Valuable Keys To Develop Better Ad Spend Return".
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  1. Rick Ducey from BIA Advisory Services, June 25, 2015 at 7:21 a.m.

    Maribeth, we love your line of thinking and analysis. Thank you! We're so pleased to have you join the BIA/Kelsey team as our Executive-In-Residence and look forward to working on the ideas and recommendations you've shared here.

    Rick Ducey,  Managing Director, BIA/Kelsey

  2. MacKenzie Lovings from BIA/Kelsey, June 26, 2015 at 12:12 p.m.

    Maribeth, echoing Rick, we are thrilled to have you expanding our national-local coverage. Your article certainly explains how important local market insights are for national brands and the five focus areas you suggest offer realistic ways to approach developing a holistic local market data set.

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