Takeaways from Borrell Associates’ Local Online Advertising Conference

Borrell Associates held its Local Online Advertising Conference at The Grand Hyatt in New York City recently and focused on hot-button themes such as local programmatic advertising, video advertising, SEM/SEO, packaging digital services, the best OTT strategy for “local,” Facebook‘s latest plan for local news and much more.

AffinityX’s Carolyn Baird, vice president of business development, and Anne Flanagan, sales development specialist, joined hundreds of digital media executives at the event and had some interesting highlights to share.

The Future of Advertising Doesn’t Fit in the Containers of the Past

Everyone was buzzing about the keynote address titled “The Future of Advertising Doesn’t Fit in the Containers of the Past,” delivered by Rishad Tobaccowala, one of the industries’ leading strategists and chief growth officer at Publicis Groupe.

Tobaccowola said that there are three realities to keep in mind. One, that he “feels your pain” because he too works for a company trying to adjust to a new digital and programmatic world. Second, he reminded people that the future of advertising doesn’t “fit into the containers of the past” and that we must change our organizations and ourselves to keep pace.

Another challenge he mentioned is that we don’t know who our future competitors will be. For example, in the automotive industry, no one saw Tesla coming and the industry is still trying to make sense of just how disruptive this company will be. The same is true in the newspaper business — with technology advances, you can’t know what the “next best thing” is. All you can do is stay as educated and agile as possible.

Finally, on a positive note, he believes the future will be quite bright if we can start thinking more broadly than “just advertising and media” and reframe instead to “marketing and customer solutions.” He predicts that, with a new mindset, local media companies and agencies can be in a growth game again, with a local advertising market two to three times bigger than some may envision.

Big Name Digital Publishers and Local Advertising

Indeed, household name media companies like Hulu and Waze presented at the event about the growing importance of local advertising to their revenue strategies. They are now diving in because their state-of-the-art research has told them it is a good strategy and that if they don’t compete, they will be leaving money on the table.

Justin Nabozna, head of channel sales for Waze North America (Google's crowd-sourced navigation app) described how Waze has long been helping national businesses like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts reach local drivers on the road and is now also reaching out to SMBs to help local businesses increase awareness of store locations and drive in-store traffic.

Julie DeTraglia, vice president and head of research for Hulu reported that the company surpassed the $1 billion ad sales threshold in 2017 and is entering 2018 with a focus on the $120 billion local advertising marketplace with a highly-targetable offering. Unlike TV or cable competitors, Hulu lets advertisers select any geographic region, down to the county level and even lets viewers the type of ads they’d like to see.

How AffinityX Can Help

AffinityX is the power behind the biggest names in local. We enable partners, especially ad agencies and local media companies, to drive profitability and scale their display and programmatic capabilities. We frequently add new offerings, such as social media advertising, that are in high-demand by clients and help us to stay relevant, so clients in turn can remain relevant with their own customers.

At the event, Carolyn and Anne had many productive conversations with companies looking to harness all the potential growth in digital and programmatic. They noted that last year many ad agencies might not have been focused as much on local advertising dollars in favor of the “whales” or enterprise clients, that’s starting to change as the great potential becomes clearer. All in all, a worthy event with important industry dialogues!