Multi-Location Marketers Want to Do More Social Advertising, But One Big Thing Stands in the Way

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Those of us in advertising know that the average day is filled with a zillion little logistics to manage and a lot of time in spreadsheets. And that’s just for a marketer focused on one brand. 

Now, think of the enterprise local marketer who spends their day trying to move the needle for what could be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of individual locations. It’s not easy. Local marketers are inherently limited to the opportunities in which they can engage due to the wide-ranging demands of a multi-location advertising program.

Simply put: If marketing options are not set up to be easily executed across many locations, multi-location marketers just can’t do it.

Search is already a no-brainer for the local marketer

Searching for things nearby is one of the key use cases for search engines and local marketers. Google’s indicates that 46% of searches have a local intent. In an earnings call last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai hammered home the importance of local businesses to the company. “Just to give you a sense, local mobile searches are growing faster than just mobile searches overall and have increased by almost 50% in the last year. So for us, that’s an important focus area.”

But, more important than just being a valuable consumer behavior to cash in on, Google and others have invested in tools to make search easier to manage for local advertisers. By reducing the friction of managing multi-locations for search, Google has really opened up the channel for local marketers over the years and is now the top digital channel for this segment of advertisers.

Social’s complexity keeps multi-location advertisers from full adoption

Social media has revolutionized the consumer experience, and now social advertising is one of the most popular channels for all marketers to reach and influence consumers. Local enterprise marketers have certainly dipped their toes in the water but have been somewhat slow to adopt the full power of social advertising because it’s just so hard to manage for large, multi-location brands. 

Even for a social advertiser not tied to multi-locations, for a variety of reasons, the time and effort to manage an account is an investment that eclipses search. For example, while search is comprised of simple three-line text ads, the ad copy needed for social must be highly visual and engaging. And there are so many formats! Banners, videos, story ads, carousels—to do social right, marketers need to use a variety of creative types and directions.

Then, there’s the targeting. Search is inherently targeted to consumers searching for specific keywords and by location. In social, the targeting options can be overwhelming: behaviors, demographics, likes and interests, lookalikes, who they are connected to or which brands they engage with, and more. All of these can be combined into new segments—for example, targeting people who have engaged with a particular musician, like a certain sport, and are the age/gender demographic an advertiser wishes to reach. 

Finally, the field of social publishers—with their subtleties and requirements—creates exponential complexity, as each social account needs to be managed separately. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snap have proprietary ad formats, different audience makeup, and their own tools to learn. There’s some crossover between publishers but not much. 

Social advertising is not easy, and for multi-location advertisers, it’s really, really hard.

Local Social is an opportunity too big to miss 

Still, the value is high in social, and local marketers simply cannot ignore the potential here anymore. You might even be surprised at just how localized social actually is. A recent Search Engine Land post details two different studies:

  • 84.8% of all consumer impressions happen on assets that represent individual stores, showrooms, and restaurants while just 15.2% of impressions happen on brand or corporate assets — including the brand’s own website.
  • In a comparison of Facebook corporate Page activity with roughly 2,500 local Pages for the same brands in 2018, the local pages saw 72% of all consumer engagement. 

So, if consumers are absolutely interacting with the localized social pages of big brands, then why has full adoption of social advertising outside of simple programs lagged? Because there are still many challenges with managing hundreds or thousands of social accounts on social advertising. Local marketers will tell you that executing on social is incredibly painful even while acknowledging the real possibility for the channel to generate serious ROI for all of their locations.

But the headache of managing so many locations for social advertising makes them hesitant to jump in. It’s just not streamlined for the local marketer like search has become. 

What if social were as easy to execute for local marketers as search?

Search advertising is fantastic, but it’s a pull medium and limited to only serving to people who actively query a search engine—meaning, if a consumer doesn’t think to search for your business or something like it, you will never reach them. 

Social, on the other hand, is a push medium that marketers can use to reach new audiences. Social can leverage rich ad formats such as mouth-watering images of restaurant dishes, explainer videos for complex products, and eye-catching celebrity or influencer endorsements that are much more impactful and engaging at storytelling than search. 

Today’s local enterprise advertisers know that they should be leveraging the one-two punch of search and social together. One day they will. But until social advertising can offer the same streamlined workflow that can make managing hundreds or thousands of locations as easy as search makes it, social will still lag behind in the local marketing media portfolio. 

Louis Guerrero is Senior Product Marketing Manager at Kenshoo. He can be reached at [email protected].