Commentary: National Buyers, Take a Page Out of the Local Buyer’s Playbook


This article originally appeared in MarTechSeries

By: Ryan Horn, Senior Vice President of Marketing at

A lot can be learned from local buyer’s advertising playbook. Local advertisers understand the power of advertising to zip codes, neighborhoods, and indeed households that are within a specific distance of their location(s)and that meet the criteria of their ideal audience, but national advertisers have yet to fully take advantage of these localized strategies. There has been a significant market shift towards localization over the years driven by the growth of mobile and the resulting advancements in location data intelligence and insights.

National advertisers who target advertising to DMAs or broader geographies can improve the effectiveness of their campaigns by targeting more precisely, customizing messaging based on the areas where they are advertising, and optimizing performance based on location, while still reaching a national footprint.

This is especially important in today’s world. As different parts of the country continue their path of reopening, it is essential for advertisers to allocate their budget accordingly. In order to maximize the return on investment and minimize wasted impressions, advertisers should ditch the butcher knife approach and instead, opt for the scalpel.


Localized Targeting Matters

National campaigns have traditionally been where most advertising dollars are spent, yet localized strategies are often more personalized, which has become of utmost importance for consumers in the digital age. When designing a national campaign with local strategies, recency and relevancy are top priorities. Now more than ever, marketers want to ensure they are reaching the right consumer at the right time and place and eliminating any waste.

By leveraging localized strategies for national campaigns, advertisers are able to take a more flexible and customized approach to their audience targeting and account for the significant differences in regions, states, cities, and even neighborhoods.

Addressable Programmatic is an important tool for ensuring this level of precision targeting for national campaigns.

Addressable Programmatic allows advertisers to reach consumers household by household on a national scale. With the ability to reach anywhere from one to 126 million U.S. households, advertisers can target specific households that fit their target audience with mobile, video and OTT/CTV ads. Rather than utilizing broader, more generalized audience targeting strategies such as DMA targeting, addressable programmatic campaigns can take into account the various ways one household differs from another, translating to less wasted impressions, higher ROI, and most importantly a more personalized and useful ad experience.


Localized Messaging Matters

National advertisers sometimes make the mistake of coming across as out of touch when they apply a one-size-fits-all messaging model that doesn’t speak to local consumer needs, cultural norms, and current economic environments. Today especially, localized messaging matters. As the economy continues on their path to reopen and various states, cities and even counties are in different stages of economic restriction and recovery, localized messaging is crucial to ensure relevancy with each audience.

For example, take a national QSR brand that spends millions on national exposure. Having a strong brand presence is a huge plus, and can even help drive local sales, but national branding alone won’t do the trick. By tailoring messaging to the needs and preferences of a particular market, the better response your advertising will get. Whether it’s pushing a community’s favorite sandwich or bringing awareness to your temporary dining room hours or take-out/delivery services amidst the pandemic, localized messaging is key.


Localized Performance & Reporting Matters

For decades, national advertisers tapped into audience segments to effectively scale their advertising efforts. While once a mainstay in advertising, audience segments have become obsolete in this data-driven digital world. With the wealth of data available to advertisers, lumping ‘would-be’ buyers into outdated pre-packaged segments is not only an antiquated approach for marketing, it’s a disservice to consumers. Not to mention, there are significant limitations when it comes to optimization and reporting.

Today, advertisers need the ability to measure campaign performance at the granular level. Additionally, they need to be able to remain agile and react quickly to rapidly changing stages of economic recovery. With a new wave of technology tools available, marketers can access detailed reporting to identify specific data points that are performing, or not performing, and then optimize their campaigns accordingly to improve results and curb wasted expenditure. By identifying signals and behaviors impacting performance in specific locations, marketers can improve their advertising at the local level and drive overall performance.

While national multi-location brands, and the agencies that serve them, usually see the most benefit from the localization of national campaigns, the future of one-to-one marketing brings with it a virtually endless number of possibilities for advertisers of all sizes. Advertising dollars may normally skew towards national campaigns, but there remains several tactics traditionally used in localized strategies that can be implemented to increase return on investment for national campaigns and minimize waste.