Why More Brands Are Asking for Local Search Data

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Are you using Google search differently now than 12 months ago? Most consumers are. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a major shift in consumer behavior that includes online search, with more people now searching for topics like home delivery, virtual happy hours, and local retailer information.

Google search ad traffic has dropped across all devices, with mobile taking the biggest hit. Mobile traffic has been down an average of 24% since the pandemic began in February. Brands have been adjusting their digital strategies to account for the shift, including changing up their search ads with enhanced location targeting and more relevant keywords.

But achieving that high level of optimization requires a type of local search data that isn’t easily accessible through Google alone. That’s created a hole in the marketplace that the intelligence platform Adthena is looking to fill.

With its new Local View product, Adthena is working on a way to give brands more in-depth data about how people search locally. The product also provides relevant data on competitors. This includes what search terms competitors are bidding on, ad performance, ad copy, and even ad spend. Adthena sees its new Local View product as the “future” of location-based search intelligence. While many of Local View’s features are relevant during Covid-19, the product itself is designed to be used even after the current pandemic surge has passed.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed consumer behavior and put local search well and truly on the map,” says Adthena’s vice president of marketing, Ashley Fletcher. “Due to restrictions on movement, more and more consumers are realizing the ease and opportunity of online search and purchase. Individuals want a tailored search view with results that are relevant to them and where they are at that very moment. This is particularly important for retail, where stock levels and offers differ greatly by location.”

Adthena’s Local View product was designed to give brands more transparency into the search advertising landscape across geographies and capture consumer behavior and competitor strategies. It’s powered by Adthena’s AI, which automatically scans brands’ websites and competitors’ keywords to create custom maps of the most relevant terms for each brand.

Fletcher says one of the many changes to come out of the pandemic has been greater variance in search activity locally — across regions, states, counties, cities, and even neighborhoods. To adapt, and ensure personalization for the end-user, he says brands have had to make their search campaigns more locally targeted. Unfortunately, making that pivot hasn’t always been easy. With a lack of clarity on what consumers are searching for in the moment, many brand marketers are essentially working in the dark.

Fletcher hopes Adthena’s new product will shine a light on the situation, so brands can see how their competitors are adapting and create more effective location-based search advertising campaigns. He says the best campaigns are relevant, useful, and quick, since any delay in response to market sets marketers back.

“A local view of ad copy and search terms allows [marketers] to find opportunities in local markets that are not visible at the national level, such as local offers and messages, and search terms unique to different regions,” says Andrew Stager, UX researcher at Adthena.

Interviewing brands about their local marketing needs, Stager came to find that many of the businesses using location targeting in Google Ads/SA360 were disappointed with the lack of competitive intelligence that Auction Insights provides at the location level. He says tools like Local View are important because they allow brands to uncover local competitors that traditionally national data sets of competitive intelligence haven’t picked up.

“The majority of competitive intelligence datasets for paid search is national search data,” he says. “How will a customer who only advertises in a few states, or a customer who targets major city centers, benefit from competitive intelligence that is not focused on the locations where their customers are?”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.
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