There’s an oft used phrase in Washington – ”all politics is local.” Congressman Tip O’Neill, the legendary Democratic Speaker of the House from Massachusetts, wrote a book titled All Politics is Local so he is perhaps most closely associated with the phrase. In short, no matter what is happening in the world, a smart politician pays attention to the ”parochial” interests of his/her constituents.
In some ways, despite the overwhelming attention paid (in the media and in the advertising industry) to the spending of large national chains and global brands, much of advertising is local as well. But we need to think a little differently about what we mean by ”local.” Very few advertisers are necessarily well served by trying to reach everyone (not that it’s possible.) Effective ad campaigns require that we can reach certain households and certain people within a household. Advertising is not quite local, in the Tip O’Neill sense of the word, advertising is really more like hyper-local or at the individual level.
So why am I banging on about this? Why does it matter?
It matters because understanding the root of effective ad campaigns -especially now- should change our perception, somewhat, of the way the ”demise of print” is so often reported.
In print news recently, Politico reported that Macy’s would be cutting their ROP national advertising by 50% and last week Mediapost reported that the Newspaper Association of America announced they would roll up National Newspaper Network (NNN), their national ad sales arm.
Juxtapose these print industry reports with a recent article in the Atlantic about the state of journalism in the Facebook era. The Atlantic article noted that Pew Research looked at the digital traffic of the top 50 highest circulation newspapers in the U.S. Pew found that in just the past year, over half the papers had seen mobile and tablet traffic explode past desktop traffic. In other words, news consumption isn’t declining – it’s simply migrating to devices that are more personal (e.g. at the hyper-local or individual level.)
It is true that many large metro dailies are struggling to hang onto national advertisers and this struggle is likely to continue. However, newspaper organizations are well positioned to capitalize on the hyper-local/individual-level needs of most advertisers, especially when we better define ”most advertisers.” In the U.S. the number of corporate/national advertisers is dwarfed by the number and amount spent by small/local market advertisers.
Facebook and Google have thrived because they offer cost-effective tools that ”small” local market businesses love. Facebook and Google are response-based and allow advertisers to reach relatively well-defined groups of potential customers. Local advertisers, unsurprisingly, have flocked to this low risk way to target the ”right” people in their communities. Indeed, the Atlantic article reported that 85% of all online ad spend goes to Facebook and Google….rather than the flashier ROS display buys on high traffic sites.
Community weeklies and mid- and small-dailies have the advantage of the content distribution channels of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat and others) while offering advertisers a print and digital footprint that largely overlaps well with the defined local markets of many small advertisers. For the great majority of these advertisers, their menu of local marketing options beyond Facebook, Google AdWords, direct mail and the local newspaper platform includes advertising media that are decidedly less geographically targeted, response-based and cost-effective. For a variety of reasons (ad production costs, reach, waste etc.) Broadcast TV, cable TV, radio, outdoor -and even in some cases the large metro daily- are not ideal for many local market advertisers.
The widespread generalization of ”print” and ”advertisers” -in a great deal of the print and advertising industry reporting- pretty much walks up to the line of misrepresenting what is truly happening in these industries. Granted, advertising and small business at the hyper-local/individual level is tougher to generalize but it is where the bulk of all kinds of important transactions are actually happening at an ever increasing rate.
Post by Jim Jinks.