How Media Buyers Buy Hyperlocal

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Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 6.35.56 PMAs brands start to make meaningful investments in mobile marketing, hyperlocal is poised to take a bigger part of the national marketer’s media mix. In a Street Fight webinar sponsored by YP Thursday, Mitch Bernstein, the director of client strategy at Neo@Ogilvy, and YP’s Onil Gunawardana discussed the value of hyperlocal from a media buyer’s perspective, highlighting its ability drive conversions in a still-nascent mobile space and provide marketers with deeper insights into their consumer’s path to purchase.

“We know that many of our clients businesses are made or broken at the local level,” said Bernstein. “What are the solutions that you as publishers or a technology providers can provide to us as we think how can we aggregate all of those smaller campaigns at a larger scale?”

Over the past year, Neo@Ogillvy, which serves as the digital arm of the Mad Men-era ad shop Ogilvy and Mather, piloted a dozen or so hyperlocal campaigns, and has started to invest in larger projects. Bernstein says the agency has seen early success with geofencing, working with hospitality, retail, and consumer package goods (CPG) brands to reach consumers on mobile, desktop, and even digital-out-of-home.

One of the challenges, says Bernstein, is finding partners. Given that its still early days for the hyperlocal industry, agencies are still looking for those bedrock relationships through which they can help grow the channel as the market develops.

Here’s what Bernstein looks for in a partner, and what hyperlocal publishers and technology platforms can do pique the interest of media buyers:

1) Know your sweet spot: A great way to gain credibility among media buyers is to convey the abilities and limitations of a product. If you’re product excels in a certain market, but struggles in others, be honest. “There’s nothing more aggravating to us than finding out later that a solution, say, only works on a business-to-business or business-to-consumer audience,” said Bernstein.

2) Sell a project, not a product: Hyperlocal may be gaining ground, but it’s still small, and very new, potatoes in an agency’s current media mix. Instead of selling your technology as a multi-use product, pitch it as solution for a media buyer’s existing client base. Pick a brand which the agency represents, and demonstrate how a specific solution can help the media buyer solve an existing objective for that client.

3) Build for scale: It’s most marketers’ biggest concern about hyperlocal marketing: conversion rates can be stellar, but without the necessary reach, hyperlocal campaigns can be a drop in the bucket for a brand seeking scale. But building for scale also means developing a platform that can easily execute a large campaign without a time-consuming manual process that drives costs up as reach expands. Without automation in the back-end, it’s difficult for media buyers to justify the cost of trying a new solution if they know it’s only applicable to a select group of clients. Before pitching an agency, make sure that your solution can run a campaign for 100 locations as seamlessly (and as cost effectively) as for two.

4) Solve for the CMO: Senior marketers are concerned with the bigger picture, so pitch your solution within that context. Understand a brand’s existing media mix, and help marketers understand how a hyperlocal solution can support, rather than replace, these initiatives.

Take franchisees as an example. Given that most franchisee owners still spend in traditional media like television, pitch hyperlocal as a way to convert the high-funnel awareness cultivated in its TV spend. Hyperlcoal should be a compliment, not an alternative, to their existing media mix.

Bernstein also pointed to data — and the ability to provide insights into a client’s consumer’s path to purchase — as big draw of hyperlocal for senior marketers: “You can pretty much guarantee that every marketer out there wants the most up-to-date picture of how their consumers are going to find their products,” he added.

5) Transparency drives trust: Media buyers like innovation, but they hate surprises, says Bernstein. That means clearly articulating the capabilities of the service as well articulating the business model moving forward. Media buyers want to understand how value is exchanged in a relationship, and whether a partner will be around long enough to make the arrangement worthwhile.

Steven Jacobs is deputy editor at Street Fight.