Why Marketers Must Invest in Localized Media Strategies

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We’re seeing uneven recoveries in both localized Covid-19 outbreaks and economies across the nation. This unpredictability, coupled with new essential needs, supply chain disruptions, and business realities (stores closing, competition rising), have rendered previously effective marketing tactics virtually irrelevant. A ground-up, local approach can help brands and marketers solve for all these new challenges by reducing waste and delivering on those essentials that consumers need during these atypical times.  

We are now seven months into “quarantine,” which means that our typical movements and behaviors have shifted dramatically versus where we were a year ago. According to Google’s mobility report, besides residential visits, community movement has decreased to all locations except outdoor recreation sites (parks, gardens, dog parks, etc.), which is understandable as these are places that offer safe ventilation and social distancing.  

But how are these numbers going to look as we enter the colder, wetter months of the year? And how can marketers truly leverage mobile data if we are all staying at home? Perhaps you need to take a step back and understand the value of mobile data — but only as one of many intelligent inputs that you need to evaluate as you determine your hyper-local approach in this new hyper-local world.  

With great data comes great responsibility

Consumer sensitivity about data has reached a fever pitch. Leveraging data, especially mobile data, in a silo for targeting efforts can be a quick and easy tactic. But it can come with excessive waste and extreme carelessness. For example, say you wanted to reach people who have recently participated in a protest or rally; how would you be able to determine which “side” your target is on? The only way to use this location data is to couple it with other intelligent inputs to ensure you are speaking to the right person at the right time.

Identifying the proper signals and inputs to create hyper-personalized experiences is the much-needed anthesis of a mass-reach, blanket approach. Gone are the days (or rather, gone should be the days) of targeting messages based on demographics, quarterly historical behaviors, and six-month-old survey data. And that’s not to mention the fact that come 2022, digital advertising will be virtually cookieless. How can these antiquated forms of data still make sense in our new reality? It is all about a ground-up approach, using real local signals that get as close to one-to-one targeting as possible, while treating the data sensitively.  

Bringing the word “local” back into style

The term “local” used to be marketing taboo. Marketers wanted to avoid it because it took too much time to perfect and yielded returns that were not consistent. However, with advancements in technology and availability of data, if you are not using a ground-up approach first, then you could be missing out on some of your most loyal prospects. A top-down approach inherently implies that your brand does not care about the individual. It says you are too busy or unwilling to upend traditional ways of approaching marketing because of fear of trying something new.  

But in today’s world, you have the tools you need to take those calculated pivots to give consumers what they want and meet them in the right place at the perfect time. This eliminates the waste of spending money on people who will never buy your product and allows you to focus only on those “core” and “occasional” consumers who are most likely to convert in the short term and stay for the long term. That means that your investment will go further, increasing the frequency of exposure to only those who have the highest propensity to show interest and buy your products or services.  

Leveraging your data inventory with a hyper-local strategy

When crafting a hyper-local strategy, you must take stock of the data inventory at your disposal. What are some of the intelligent signals that can complement mobile movement data to give the most accurate read of potential hand raisers for your brand? Of course, you can push the buttons in the respective platforms to target “in-market” consumers, but what questions should you ask yourself prior to building campaigns in any platform?

  • What are my business goals?
  • What revenue am I trying to achieve?
  • What type of first-party data do I already have?
  • What is my audience size and opportunity?  Is it scalable? 
  • What do I want my audience to do?

Once you have determined these base campaign parameters, then you must mine the intelligent inputs that are available to you. This includes first-party data, social following, search volume, mobile data, and website traffic. In addition, you need to keep a close eye on competitor locations, products, services, and seasonality, in addition to your own sales data for those very elements. And let’s not forget about your local COVID economic resilience.

It’s crunch time for your data

This is where your experienced data science team can help scale and rank the audience opportunity. The way the data is crunched is truly the secret sauce of your approach, so just make sure you have tested the outcome of your audience creation before touting it as a magic weapon, as performance will vary by media mix and platform.  

As our world becomes more local and advertising dollars are tightened, you must reevaluate how you spend every marketing dollar and know that it is reaching the right person who will buy your product or service. Before media mix is determined, before flighting is crafted, before optimization can occur, a hyper-local audience approach must be created with purposeful strategy and tactical intelligence inputs.  

We can no longer rely on a one-size-fits-all approach, because our new world is so different from city to city, state to state, person to person. Instead, turn your focus to a ground-up effort, crafting the right audience strategy where you will reap the benefits of a carefully constructed, hand-raiser-first approach.  

Craig Woerz is Managing Partner of Media Storm, a Merkle Company.