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The Evolution of Local Media Across the Funnel for Retailers

Traditional local media stalwarts, like TV, cable, radio, print, and out-of-home (OOH), continue to be drivers for retail sales across the country and a huge part of the delivery throughout a full funnel plan. The pendulum of marketing swings from traditional media to online digital media and, in the era of living by attribution, back to a combination of both offline and online media. The smartest approach to managing a client’s money is focusing on the entirety of the funnel as the secret to successful retail advertising in 2022 and beyond.

Bridging the funnel for retail

Think of offline media as the oxygen for the top-of-funnel flame for lower funnel’s more attributable digital media. As we all learned in grade school science, any type of fire needs three things: heat, fuel, and oxygen. Digital media is the heat and fuel, while offline media serves as the oxygen that gives those other two elements life and power.

It is easy in today’s media world to think, “I only want to buy media that is 100% attributable because then I have a fully calculated cost and ROI.” That’s a good thought, but a media plan that is geared toward a local retail audience and is 100% digital will soon run out of oxygen and the flame will peter out.  Bringing traditional media into the media mix pumps oxygen into the digital elements and everything heats up. We’ve seen this hold true especially for our clients and friends in the retail vertical—where delivering in-store traffic and sales needs more frequent engagement to be successful.   

Time after time, in our multi-touch attribution reports we see the most effective combination is when all types of media are working together. Each medium has a different role to play and is an important part in the overall impact a media plan will have for our clients. We want our clients to feel the media in the marketplace and we want our clients to see the results of our media campaigns in a variety of ways, most significantly in their revenue. In today’s world of uber measurement, sometimes the complete picture of the end results gets buried. Where retail is concerned, several variables like ecommerce, mobile movement tracking, and even CRM-driven direct mail also impact this funnel and deliver the fuel without the cleanest of attributions. But change is alight in these areas as presence of ID unification continues to evolve in our world.

Local media can reach different shopping audiences

Local TV advertising, especially broadcast spot (local advertising on network-affiliated programming), is a spectacular choice to reach across different sets of viewers. Broadcast TV can deliver all content types to consumers either directly through digital antennas or through both wired and virtual multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). Broadcast TV has the best reach of all video media, reaching 80%+ of each local marketplace each week. That reach, coupled with critical local market information (news, weather, and sports), make broadcast TV an essential part of any retailer’s media plan. Spot cable advertising is another stalwart of the media plan, even with its relative reach falling in the last few years as more and more households give up traditional multi-channel video service for other subscription or digital choices for entertainment. 

Local radio is another great reach driver. As we emerge from the pandemic in 2022, the roads are getting busier and more people are going into the workplace on a monthly basis, causing radio listenership to continue climbing. It may never reach pre-pandemic levels, but it will be a driver of retail for the foreseeable future.  

The power that these media have for many brands reaches beyond the numbers and speaks to the “legitimacy” of the brand itself. “I saw it on TV” or “I heard it on the radio” add an air of legitimacy and credibility to a brand and create additional frequency that is needed to drive retail foot traffic.

Other local media are equally as strong in creating the awareness and recognition that is essential in today’s super competitive environment. OOH and digital OOH are great for building brand awareness and recognition. Local print is important to allow the consumer to spend more time with the brand and begin the consideration process.

Local strategies are evolving with the industry

All of these media are in the midst of pivoting from their original positions of siloed media channels to a digital-complimentary position, where the client brand is at the center and the entire media eco-system supports and contributes to the overarching goal of increased sales.  

The key to any local media campaign is to understand each and every market on your list and pick the best media for each locality, all dependent on underlying market conditions. One market may be impacted by local events (political, sports, weather) that would force a brand to pivot away, usually temporarily. As in many digital channels, using data to inform customized strategies is important.

This is a great time to be a brand. Advertising options have never been more plentiful, the impressions are relatively inexpensive, and data and attribution are available to make your investments more accountable. By balancing local and digital media, brands can take advantage of the best of each channel to create a marketplace that burns effectively and efficiently.