Four Truths Facing Local Media Groups
Once upon a time, local advertising was a simple commerce exchange. Local businesses that wanted more customers bought ads from ad reps at the media channels they read and trusted. Simple — dollars for eyeballs. What’s changed over time? Only everything, writes Simpli.fi CRO James Moore.
Today, local media companies can easily expand the digital footprint offered to their clients by utilizing programmatic platforms, which represent more than 67 percent of all digital display advertising.
This is a gold rush, and those who have pivoted into a local-focused digital agency are seeing record revenue growth. Virtually any local consumer can be reached through a variety of creative formats, regardless of device. Programmatic’s advantage is that ad impressions can be delivered to consumers based on exhibited online and offline behavior such as CRM targeting, geo-fencing, keyword/category contextual or site/search retargeting.
Now many local media companies offer one or more solutions built upon the premise of delivering ad impressions to the right consumers, at the right time, with the right creative format, and on the right device regardless of their digital browsing footprint.
Sounds Perfect, Right?
Today’s local media companies and their sales teams have the most sophisticated targeted tactics in the world available at their fingertips. They can give their local business clients the newest targeting options available through unlimited inventory sources.
This, of course, means bigger budgets can be signed with an expanding pool of resources to prove ROI for advertising buys. It also means a dramatic change in the competitive landscape is occurring in every city in America.
Most local business owners will tell you they are regularly presented with digital audience targeting solutions from not only their local media properties but from a growing array of national, SMB-focused, and vertical specific digital networks. Local business owners used to working with ad reps on products they understand are left confused, overwhelmed and in need of some help.
Four Universal Truths of Localized Programmatic
The competition to win local advertising dollars is reaching a fever pitch, as local media groups are pressured to evolve faster. In the course of this race, local sales-focused media organizations need to confront four new universal truths:
TRUTH ONE: Confused Sellers, Selling to Confused Buyers
The differences between one programmatic vendor and another has become incredibly technical. The challenge is two-fold: most local media sellers are not well-versed in the technical virtues of what they are selling, while most business owners’ knowledge of digital marketing doesn’t stretch to include the nuanced differences between a bidder built on the programming language C instead of Ruby.
In order to establish trust and maintain or grow customers, local media groups need to ensure their sales team is well trained and “technical enough” to demystify behavioral targeting for their customers. A good rule of thumb: make sure at least one team member understands the technology and stays educated on the ever-changing industry capabilities and their chosen vendor’s development roadmap.
TRUTH TWO: New Trumps Known
We also live in a world where an iPhone 7 release results in millions of consumers instantly thinking their iPhone 6 is now obsolete. This “if it sounds newer, then it must be better” mentality is a dangerous trap for both local media companies and their local clients.
Most demand-side platforms have large development teams aggressively and continually working on new solutions for inventory, data, reporting, system improvements, and more. It’s important that local media groups communicate their partners’ ongoing technology evolution to both their sellers and their clients on a routine schedule. Most of my largest and best clients view Simpli.fi’s product development efforts as an extension of their company and place a high value on the results that come from ongoing collaboration to meet the needs of their clients.
By understanding the development schedule, local media groups benefit from vendor stability, sustained marketing efforts, historical accountability, and impact across a broad array of mediums.
TRUTH THREE: The Frankenstack Is Not Scalable
There was a time when local media groups picked a partner for each medium: video, mobile, display, creative, etc. There have been two impacting consequences of these patchwork vendor ensembles I commonly referred to as “The Frankenstack”:
- Some local media groups struggle to scale and present a unified service, leaving their internal staff to play middleman between multiple vendor systems, patch together assorted reporting and more.
- Others have given up, outsourcing their Frankenstack to expensive managed services providers, which sacrifices profitability for a third party to manage the media acquisition tools they struggled to manage on their own.
Successful media groups that win local understand they need not go backwards and outsource. Rather, they look to consolidate vendors into one or more existing technology stack that can support assorted and unified targeting mediums (mobile, display, video, etc.).
They work with partners offering functioning APIs that integrate their vendor technology tools into their CRM, billing, and reporting systems to reduce errors and achieve scale while still getting access to inventory and data at wholesale costs. The benefit? They retain their ability to innovate rather than hand their business over to a third party who will standardize execution while partnering to fill their unique service needs.
TRUTH FOUR: Service Is King
In the end, when you have confused sellers selling to confused buyers and a clientele pre-conditioned to chase the shiniest new coin, service is king. In fact, nine out 10 companies we surveyed after both successful and unsuccessful campaigns define their satisfaction by good service. Was their billing accurate? Were their campaigns proactively monitored? Did they hear from us during the flight? Were we responsive when they had questions?
The fact remains that the latest technology may result in an initial sale. However, great service wins the renewal. The more local media groups leverage their history, connection, and service to local businesses the more likely they will come out on top in the race to be the digital agency of choice within their communities.
Clients want a reliable, calm, and knowledgeable voice in this confusing buying climate. They want to win or lose based on the merits of their product or service, and they need a dependable media partner to help them succeed. To meet this need, local media groups must consolidate around the most profitable and integration-ready technologies that allow their organization to evolve over time and influence ongoing product development to meet their needs.
**James Moore is the Chief Revenue Officer for Simpli.fi, which brings the power of programmatic advertising to localized campaigns. Since the mid 90’s James has been involved in leading companies who are paving new paths in digital space.