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Guest Blog: Opportunity, Distributed Locally

Brands must now think about local with the same sophistication and tools they do for large, national campaigns. The key to creating and delivering a recovery plan in a pandemic requires companies to be flexible, agile and act with precision.

Publicis Media's Tracy Chavez

Let’s face it, local paid media has always been about four things in the media world: TV, radio, outdoor and newspapers. While digital has certainly breathed new life into these channels over the years, COVID-19 and its changing consumption patterns are now requiring every marketing tactic to have a local component.

As the country moves into a state-by-state reopening plan, localization for marketers – and all businesses – has become more important than ever. Brands must now think about local with the same sophistication and tools they do for large, national campaigns. 

The key to creating and delivering a recovery plan in a pandemic requires companies to be flexible, agile and act with precision.

Tracy Chavez, executive VP, local investment, Publicis Media

Guest blog author Tracy Chavez is executive VP, local investment, Publicis Media (Image credit: Publicis Media)

Flexibility Key for Uncertainty

Nimble is the name of the game right now – especially for local businesses – and digital provides critical flexibility. It gives speed to market, allows shifting of targeting in real-time, turning on or off certain flights and changing of messaging as things shift. All these elements are crucial at this point in time, as we continue to operate in a constantly evolving landscape. After an optimistic May and confusing June, once again new COVID-19 cases are on the rise, with different states in various stages of open for business and the national unemployment rate soaring to +11% in June.

Brands who historically relied on national investments are now turning to local. For example, Kellogg’s recently built a local-first campaign across TV, Online Video, Social and Search in 20 priority markets as the US began to open back up. As the country grappled with different feelings and stages of reentry, it was important for creative to resonate with consumers at all points of their journey, respective to their local context and experiences. 

More marketers are similarly leaning into local as the way people interact with brands has changed and consumers are relying on digital touchpoints, to get the products, services and experiences they need. Further, they are benefitting from local digital’s ability to easily dial things up or down from there, adjusting channels and messaging as needed.

Precision Proves Essential

If digital provides flexibility, data allows for surgical deployment. Rich local data available specific to a certain market, can provide understanding of which stores are open, high-traffic areas and where people are spending their time. By looking at a cross section of important local data like supply and demand, shelter-in-place and phased reopening dates, as well as infection rates, this can help identify your best go-live date, which markets are optimal for re-entry, how your services or product offerings should or shouldn’t change, how creative assets should be updated; or where to shift or optimize investment. And that’s just a sampling.

Local data is also providing deeper understanding of new consumer behaviors and optimizing media strategy accordingly. For example, within radio, more people are working from home, waking up later and not spending as much time commuting in their car. However, leveraging local strategies, you can still reach these audiences, whether it’s through shifting broadcast local radio dollars to streaming, starting terrestrial broadcast schedules later in the morning or leveraging DJs to do live reads for flexibility of copy and greater ability to localize messaging.

By looking at various digital signals and how people have changed the way they shop and consume content, marketers are able to modernize and localize their business and the way they provide services.

Leverage Untapped and Emerging Arenas

This is also the time seek out untapped arenas to get your message across. We’re in an election year and while political ad spending has historically been tied to linear, there are many other options to consider to connect with consumers such as VOD, connected TV and gaming, which are now all offered locally, providing the flexibility, opportunity for regional relevance and precision mentioned—all within burgeoning channels. According to Syncbak, since February, there’s been a 60% increase in Connected TV (CTV) audiences and an 84% increase in VOD viewing of local broadcast content. Streaming has also become a way for people to seek out news content to feel more informed about the world around them. 

Commerce is another high-potential area with skyrocketing adoption of localized services like contactless delivery and curbside pickup. Beyond utility, this consumer trend that’s here to stay offers tremendous possibilities when paired with a localized strategy and product specificity shared in dynamic creative. For example, a client with a large product offering might choose to serve an ad for a hair styling product in a market that is in a further along phase of reopening where people are more likely to go out to restaurants and other places and serve a different product ad, such as for at-home hair dye kits, to a geography more inclined to be staying home. Out of home has also seen big shifts. Some previously premium locations like transit hubs or taxi tops in bustling city business districts, are now less attractive than high-traffic highway locations as consumer routines have changed. 

Successful brands will be the ones who move beyond thinking of local as primarily spot TV, radio, newspapers and outdoor and expand into the full arena of local digital opportunities for geo-targeted impact. The good news is that harnessing the power of local digital rarely requires a complete overhaul of your approach. It’s more likely simply optimizing core tactics, taking into account new, varied local nuances and marketplace opportunities, as well as paying attention to how things are ever-changing quickly. 

In the end, no marketer has the luxury to wait for a national recovery. Winning locally can drive much needed impact today.

Publicis Media is the media services arm of Publicis Groupe, providing digital-first, data-driven solutions for its clients.