5 Tips for Local Media Buying

Dave Wieser

Principal – DW Creative Marketing

Dave Wieser is Principal of DW Creative Marketing, whose mission is to “Help the Doers create their legacy.” His career of 20+ years in the advertising and marketing industry has led to a wide range of experiential roles, including media selling, media buying/planning, marketing strategy, research, business intelligence and data analytics…

In this article, I’ll discuss five key tips that will help maximize your local media buying efforts.  Our goal is to have better conversations with your buying partner or level-up an in-house buying strategy.

The DW Creative Team has 50 years’ combined experience in local media advertising, both on the selling and buying side, and we’ve distilled our lessons to these five best practices.

We’ll explore the importance of understanding your local target audience, choosing the right local media channels, negotiating deals with local media vendors, crafting compelling local ad campaigns, and tracking and measuring local media buying performance.

Local Media Buying Tip #1:  Understanding your local target audience

You really need to know your customer.  Like, really need to know them.  Understanding not only patterns that emerge demographically, but behaviorally as related to media consumption.

But how do you go about doing that?  Ask!  While not scientific, simply asking customers what TV shows, radio stations or print publications they watch/listen/read, you’ll soon find patterns will emerge.

There’s a story of an auto dealer who changed a radio buy because the service technicians would document the “5 Channels” assigned to respective radio station and learned the results varied greatly from the current buy.

You can always reach out to various research firms such as Nielsen/Scarborough or Marshall Marketing, and station partners are usually happy to share their research, but to be taken with a grain of salt due to bias.  

DW Creative Marketing’s National Media Consumption Study in 2022 had some interesting findings in how both traditional and digital media consumption play a vital role for the average consumer. 

DW Creative's Media Study showed that the average consumer lives in both a digital and analog world throughout the day.

Local Media Buying Tip #2:  How to choose the right local media channels

Making informed decisions about media channel choices is crucial for achieving your local marketing goals.  To ensure success, it is essential to carefully evaluate the costs against the potential reach of your target audience.  To be clear, when we reference “channel,” we are referring to the categorical platform such as Broadcast TV, Cable TV, Terrestrial Radio, Outdoor, etc.

First, thoroughly assess the reach of each media channel under consideration. Determine the extent to which your target audience can be effectively reached through each platform. This involves analyzing the demographics, geographic location, and interests of your target audience to identify the channels that align with their preferences.

Now is a good time to discuss budget constraints, as we realize most businesses don’t have unlimited funds.  When planning for these constraints use this simple rule:

“Spreading your budget over multiple media leads to lackluster results.”  You simply can’t generate enough frequency and reach to influence enough action.

“Focusing or owning one media will generally produce better results.”  By focusing on one media, ie, one broadcast station, and “owning it,” you can build reach AND enough frequency to be noticed.

In addition to reaching potential customers, it is important to consider cost-effectiveness. Research the various media channels to identify the most cost-effective methods that provide maximum exposure to potential customers.

Another crucial aspect to consider is the competition. Analyze how your competitors are leveraging different media channels to engage with their target audience effectively. Understanding their strategies can provide valuable insights and help you differentiate yourself in the market.  For example, with Kantar Research, we can guide clients to “Buy Around” where the competition isn’t spending, to help create more even playing field of exposure for those with larger budgets.

Local Media Buying Tip #3:  Negotiation with Local Media Vendors

Negotiating the best deals with local media vendors can be a challenging task that requires a strategic approach.  To effectively negotiate, there are several specific steps you can take.

First, it is crucial to thoroughly analyze the pricing offered by different media vendors.  This involves comparing their rates, understanding any additional costs or discounts, and evaluating the value they provide in relation to your advertising goals.  By conducting a detailed pricing analysis, you can identify the vendors that offer the most competitive rates. 

Note, this first step can be achieved by using the data from media vendors.  However, your leverage is dramatically reduced when relying on their numbers.  By utilizing their own ratings data like comScore instead of relying solely on the station vendor’s provided ratings, media buyers gain a significant advantage in negotiating advertising rates and placements.

Another important aspect of negotiating with local media vendors is targeting specific demographics. Understanding your target audience and their preferences allows you to tailor your negotiations to reach the right people. By demonstrating a clear understanding of your desired demographics, you can negotiate for customized solutions that maximize your reach and impact.

Lastly, it is important to have a clear understanding of your own goals and objectives before entering into negotiations. This includes defining your desired outcomes, budget constraints, and specific metrics for success. By having a well-defined plan, you can effectively communicate your needs and negotiate for the best possible terms.

Basic Household Station Ranker from comScore

Local Media Buying Tip #4:  Crafting Local Advertising Creative that Works

Crafting local advertising is not about creating award-winning ads or impressing industry experts. It is about creating advertisements that produce tangible results for businesses. The primary objective of local advertising is to reach the target audience effectively and drive them to take action, whether it is visiting a store, booking an appointment, or visiting a website. 

Award-winning ads may be visually stunning or creatively innovative, but if they fail to resonate with the local audience and generate measurable outcomes, they ultimately fall short of their purpose.  A few rules of thumb:

  • Sell the Problem – Messaging that quickly identifies a problem (ie, “Struggling with Back Pain?”) is the oldest trick in the book but works because it taps into a human condition that is constantly seeking to eliminate any pain from their current state. Pro tip – don’t belabor the problem, quickly transition into the solution/benefit.
  • Your brand/product is not the hero – The viewer/reader is the hero and needs to see a clear path of how their lives will benefit from taking action. Spend less time talking about yourself and more time talking about the customer.
  • Use Incentives – If you are “too good to discount/offer an incentive,” be prepared for lackluster results. Even Mercedes offers incentives.  We love BOGO, Discounts, Financing and Added Value (Buy X, Get Y) …
  • One Key Takeaway – Often advertisers try to cram too much messaging. The best ads have one key takeaway and benefit.  If someone can’t quickly answer “What was that ad trying to sell and how would it help my life?”  then start over.

You can view DW Creative Marketing’s work showcasing examples of local advertising that produced great results.

Local Media Buying Tip #5:  Local Media Campaign Measurement

“How’d you hear about us?” 

A note of caution:  media and marketing attribution models, especially on traditional channels, can be very messy.

Tracking results for traditional media is inherently difficult due to its lack of direct measurement and tracking capabilities. Unlike digital channels, which provide precise data on impressions, clicks, and conversions, traditional media such as print, television, and radio are often multi-faceted and involve multiple channels and tactics, making it difficult to isolate the impact of individual media efforts.

We do recommend using Call Tracking Metrics to track the number of inquiries or leads generated by including a unique phone number in print and digital advertising, and tag them with the result (ie, booked appointment, service call, wrong number, etc).  By monitoring the number of leads from a specific source, the business can measure the effectiveness of that source. 

One solution to this attribution mess is using a simple Advertising/Sales Ratio as a measurement of effectiveness.  Plan a threshold not to go over with your marketing, ie, 10%, and if you are growing revenue while maintaining or even decreasing the ratio, that is a healthy marketing measurement indicator.

Local Media Buying Tips Conclusion

In conclusion, successful local media buying requires a deep understanding of your target audience, careful selection of the right media channels, effective negotiation with vendors, compelling ad creative, and an honest approach to measurement of campaign performance.

If the idea of handling media buying in-house seems like too much, visit DW Creative’ Pricing page, answer a few simple questions on your media buying needs, and get an instant estimated range of our service fees based on your specific needs.  No email required. 

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