How a ‘Geo-Contextual’ Ad Campaign Produces Results

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Dick O’Hare is a guest author. If you’d like to submit a guest post, click here.

Hyperlocal has become one of the most intriguing new ideas for retailers and national brands looking to reach specific markets. Some people ask what the difference is between “local” and “hyperlocal” from a media perspective. I think the difference is clear. Traditionally, “local” media has meant DMA or metro level content such as major metro newspaper Web sites. But they could cover a pretty vast geography. Conversely, “hyperlocal” means granular, community-based or zip-code-level content.

The good news for marketers is that there has been a vast proliferation of hyperlocal content over the past few years, driven mainly by the void left in local coverage from the decline in traditional local media. This void has been filled both organically by independent, hyperlocal Web sites and local blogs and, institutionally, from the big media players.

“Geo-contextually” relevant display advertising at the hyperlocal level can compress the traditional marketing funnel — meaning consumers can move quickly from awareness to consideration to purchase based on their need and the right local message.

All of this new hyperlocal content provides tremendous opportunity for granular, local ad targeting. Prior to the Internet (remember those days?), I sold qualified circulation magazines. So, I was weaned on the power of contextual relevance in driving ad performance.

Hyperlocal content offers extremely compelling contextual relevance for local businesses to target audiences in their immediate service area with local content they know and trust. I call this “geo-contextual” relevance. And, it is the underlying premise behind my company, Local Yokel Media. We are aggregating hyperlocal and local Web sites, organizing them by zip code and making them easy to buy within a tight service area for a local business. The result is a premium revenue-generating partner for these hyperlocal and local websites and a unique, scalable ad targeting platform for marketers looking to target locally. Our original premise was that this granular level of ad targeting would perform well. But, we didn’t realize how positive the results would be.

Our early, hyperlocal ad campaigns illustrated not only exceptional ad performance but media efficiency as well.  One of our original ad campaigns was executed for an organic lawn care company. We targeted media in three segments. First was a cluster of eight hyperlocal Web sites addressing audiences within their 20-mile service area radius. Next, we selected traditional geo-targeting (through IP address code) in a somewhat broader geography as it could not target down to the true, hyperlocal level (hence, the market opportunity). The third element was geo-targeted search engine marketing within the same service area leveraging organic lawn care keywords. We used a strong call to action of 50% off the first lawn care treatment. Phone leads were tracked through a third party.

The campaign ran for 22 days and yielded exceptional results.  Here are the key metrics:
•    Click-through rate (CTR) for hyperlocal websites was 7X greater than traditional, non-contextual geo-targeting.
•    Hyperlocal CTR was 25X the national average.
•    Hyperlocal CTR was 30% higher than CTR for search engine marketing.
•    Cost per Click (CPC) for the hyperlocal segment was only 15% that of search engine marketing—dramatically less expensive!
•    Impression volume for hyperlocal was 17X impression volume for search engine marketing.
•    8 phone leads and 5 email leads were generated, compared to 0 phone leads generated from a half-page print campaign that ran in a local, high-gloss magazine for this service area. This print ad was 5X more expensive than the hyperlocal campaign that ran.

The takeaways from this campaign also spoke to some interesting larger dynamics. First, search engine marketing has been very successful as a “bottom funnel” marketing activity (closer to the point of purchase) whereas display advertising has always been positioned as a “top of funnel” marketing activity (awareness). The results we have seen with this campaign and others is that “geo-contextually” relevant display advertising at the hyperlocal level can compress the traditional marketing funnel — meaning consumers can move quickly from awareness to consideration to purchase based on their need and the right local message. All research that I have seen over my tenure in digital media suggests that search and display together yield maximum results. So, this is not to say that one approach (display) should only be chosen over another (search engine marketing). However, these results do speak to the effectiveness of hyperlocal ad targeting.

At the end of the day, metrics like these have to translate into tangible results for the business. In this case, these did, based on the positive lead volume. We are doing more hyperlocal ad campaigns here at Local Yokel Media and look forward to continue sharing positive results and overall insights.

Dick O’Hare is the CEO and founder of Local Yokel Media.