Local Ad Agencies Using Video Across Platforms

A preponderance of local advertising agencies are employing digital/streaming video and audio ads as well as advanced TV, along with other local media, a survey by Borrell Associates confirms.

The annual survey goes out to local ad agencies around the country and is culled from lists of active ad buyers and prospects furnished by newspapers, radio, TV, cable and other local media. (More on methodology below.)

Fifty-eight percent of the 446 agencies that responded in full to this year’s survey reported using paid digital/streaming video ads (about on par with the percentage that reported the same last year). 

Nearly three-quarters (72%) feature videos in social media ads, and 71% distribute videos using broadcast and/or cable TV stations. 

In addition, 78% sometimes post (non-paid) videos on YouTube, and 72% post videos on clients’ social media pages.

Among these agencies, the average number of videos created per year is 16. In addition, 44% report that they buy or manage digital/streaming audio for clients.

The most common audio format is pre-recorded spots inserted in-stream (sometimes used by 78%), followed by programmatic ad buys (53%), sponsored content (49%) and native advertising (44%).

However, digital video and audio are still very much a part of a broad mix that includes significant components of traditional media.

Although some of the differences in percentages may not be meaningful, given the small sample, paid social media ads narrowly lead the pack in terms of the types of media that local agencies report purchasing for clients, cited by 82%.

Paid social is followed by radio (77%); search engine marketing and banner ads on websites (each at 74%); newspapers (70%), broadcast TV, email advertising, and outdoor (each at 68%), events/sponsorships (67%); magazines and cable TV (each at 63%); digital/streaming video (58%); and direct mail (52%). Other media were cited by fewer than 50%.

On the television front, about three-quarters (78%) of buys are placed in local programming.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) said they sometimes buy advanced TV features. Specifically, 61% cited use of OTT, connected TV or VOD, while 41% cited use of multi-platform (not just TV set views); 33%, programmatic advertising; and 30%, addressable advertising.

In addition to the 82% reporting using paid social ads, 93% report using non-paid social media for clients.

Social media users employ four different platforms, on average. Facebook is in the lead (used by 91%), followed by Instagram (73%), YouTube (57%), Twitter (48%), LinkedIn (48%), Pinterest (22%) and Snapchat (20%). The platforms’ ranking order was the same in last year’s survey.

Nearly half (46%) ranked broadcast/cable TV as the best medium for increasing brand awareness, with only 12% saying the same about digital media.

Most (55%) consider digital media the best at providing data to determine ROI, compared with 6% saying the same about broadcast/cable TV.

But when it comes to which is best at driving sales, digital media and broadcast/cable TV are nearly tied, at 29% and 26%, respectively.

Borrell also surveys local advertisers that buy their ads directly instead of using agencies.

The comparative results show that local agencies — presumably the more experienced media/marketing experts — are more likely than direct buyers to use digital/streaming video by a factor of five, and more likely to use digital/streaming audio by a factor of nearly seven.

Local agencies’ “love affair with TV and radio hasn’t ended,” notes Borrell; instead, they continue to find that what works is “a mix of traditional media, with its vast reach and top of-the-funnel branding capabilities, and digital media, with its itchy-fingered audience and accountability. One looks and feels good to their end clients — the advertisers. The other helps them prove to clients that the big checks they’re writing are a good investment.”

Borrell conducted its surveys between mid April and early July 2019, among two groups: agency buyers and advertisers who buy their own media (“direct” local ad buyers).

The survey was distributed to lists of active ad buyers and prospects supplied by Borrell-client local media companies across the U.S., including newspapers, radio, TV, cable and other media. 

More than 5,500 total responses were received, but only those that answered all 40-plus questions were used in tallying/analyzing results. In addition to the 446 completed surveys from local agencies, there were 2,288 surveys from advertisers that buy media directly. 

On average, the local agency respondents serve 41 clients per year, with average annual client bookings of $2.4 million. Thirty-six percent have fewer than five employees, while 31% have between five and 24, and 33% have 25 or more. Nearly half (46%) have more than 20 years’ experience, an 43% have between six and 20 years’ experience. 

A full summary can be downloaded free from the Borrell site.

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