The 2018 Local Advertising Opportunity Lies in Digital

Local ad spending is on the rise, according to the latest forecast from BIA/Kelsey. In 2018, the local ad market will hit $151.2 billion, a 5.2% increase from 2017. That incredible figure is both the largest annual increase in five years and approximately 70 percent of the total $214.94 billion that eMarketer expects will be spent on U.S. advertising in 2018.

Most of that money -- nearly 65 percent -- is still destined for traditional media, such as direct mail, TV and newspapers. That leaves 35 percent for digital. While that is still billions of dollars, it’s a missed opportunity in local advertising. In 2018, the goal for many local ad services providers will be to demonstrate the value of digital to their customers, with the objective to earn incremental ad budgets in the process.

The main reason that traditional still gets nearly two out of every three dollars spent on local media is that SMBs and local advertisers don’t necessarily know or understand what their digital options are. There is huge opportunity in digital because it’s so easy for marketing services providers to begin offering digital services to their clients and for those clients to transfer some of their traditional creative assets to digital.

One encouraging sign is that mobile is the media channel which will earn the third most of local spending next year, at $19 billion or 12.6 percent of the total market. As BIA/Kelsey points out, this is due in part to national advertisers adopting geo-fencing, click-to-call and click-to-map tactics to market on a hyper-local level.

It’s important to remember that digital and mobile are not strictly the domain of national advertisers. Smaller businesses can easily take advantage of the same tactics by working with the partners they already use to buy both traditional and digital ad campaigns. Local mobile ad inventory is still a great value and it can help these advertisers grow their customer bases by targeting consumers in specific areas, or who are researching on their mobile devices while shopping. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be exploring these new methods, even if they still insist spending on TV ads. After all, those same TV spots can easily work as mobile video ads.

For the marketing services providers, offering these options is as simple as enlisting white label providers who can help evaluate the best in class digital technologies. By working directly with other parties who can assemble ad stacks, marketing services providers can pass on the ease and efficiency of digital directly to their advertisers.

This allows them to incorporate digital into every ad package they sell, whether those are TV or newspaper ads. For example, if advertisers want packages that include print and digital ads on newspaper websites, the publishers’ sales teams should be helping advertisers understand how programmatic ad buying can open up new opportunities and audiences on sites
across the web.

When digital is easy to access, advertisers will see that it provides measurable ROI and helps them grow their businesses. Even starting small, with something as simple as single mobile campaigns, gives marketing services providers opportunities to prove that digital is effective, opening the door to increased spending and upsells throughout 2018.