Commentary

Video In My Backyard

As we pontificate about all things video, we tend to pass over the little guys and focus on bigger opportunities. With national having the big guy footprint, local media outlets are all too often brushed aside. This is clearly evidenced by PriceWaterhouseCoopers' report indicating that 94 percent of all online advertising is national.

The reason is one of scalability. In the largest U.S. market--New York--we reach a fraction of the overall U.S. population. National media buys, on the other hand, can reach TV audiences everywhere, offering a no-brainer for scalable reach potential. National is bigger, making it the easiest sell to our clients. But last I checked, we are tasked to meet client objectives--especially the hard ones. For some brands, objectives translate into local media support in key markets to defend market share, improve brand positioning, or to enhance local event/promotion coverage.

Today, IP addresses and registration information enable geo-targeting, but to truly be local, we should require the placement of ads be in front of those who are interested in their community. Both portals and ad networks offer scalable, locally-targeted inventory but not contextual relevance. Weather.com, Citysearch or AOL City Guides are used for travel and other out-of-town event planning as well as by audiences in-market, with percentages varying by Web site or city. Creatively, most of these options do not include pre-roll video, resulting in our Web mix being an ad format short.

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Therefore, to use video locally, we have only to look to local media options. Growing up, my family relied on local TV, radio & newspapers to provide insight into what was going on in our town, county or state. Audiences today still rely on local media, digital or otherwise, for that type of information. Advertisers, however, have been slow to move into this space for a variety of reasons--lack of local online planning tools, cumbersome to execute local buys online, etc.--but that's quickly changing. Advertising on local media sites are up for newspapers with new products like Pointroll's PaperBoy to help drive FSI spending online as well. Networks such as Centro can help with local Web media planning and execution, across all local media outlets, including TV Web sites, to simplify an otherwise cumbersome process. And it's on the TV Web sites where we'll find a relatively untapped opportunity, driven by what they do best--to create, produce & distribute video content.

With well over 200 DMAs, and multiple stations in top markets, there's an ample supply of inventory and opportunity. For categories like automotive, retail and other establishment-driven businesses like restaurants, local pre-roll video can be bundled easily with local TV buys. Local network affiliates are stepping up their sales efforts with local buyers, proving their eagerness to gain local media share via online video. Networks like IBS or Centro can assist in property selection, and consolidation of execution. A virtual test drive or shopping experience channel isn't out of the question if it makes strategic sense for the brand and local affiliate. As I said, opportunity abounds in local video.

Looking ahead, best practices evolve over time and with effort. Local media's time is coming for the Web--and it's definitely about time we get it right, even if it means we sweat a little doing so. I do know that it's about time for me to get back to work--after I check out the local scene for this weekend.

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