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Local Focus is the Next Big Thing for eCommerce

Written by: Juliana Casale, Director of Marketing

As our marketing intern Shaun attested in last week’s post on millennials, mobile is the new black. And it’s not just the “digital native,” 18-34 set that’s hooked; eMarketer projects that 1.75 billion people worldwide will have a smartphone by the end of 2014. With more people using their mobile devices to visit apps like Facebook and Twitter instead of browsing the Web, there’s never been a better time to advertise on social media — and leverage the location-based functionality of these ever-present phones to your advantage.

From Wall Street to Main Street

In the golden age of television, advertising on TV was the best way of reaching people where they lived. Small, locally-run cable channels provided personalization in a way that the national campaigns that run today do not. Now that digital has surpassed broadcast TV advertising revenue, all eyes are on mobile as the best way to connect with consumers where they work and play.

According to Saurabh Bhatia, Chief Business Officer of mobile video advertising company Vdopia, “Mobile allows brands to execute national branding campaigns with local flavor.” For example, an eCommerce brand can serve customers ads on Facebook that correspond to the weather they experience locally. For rainy regions like Seattle, a shoe company might choose to promote rain boots as the logical choice — whereas Florida would be better suited for flip flop sales. Spring may technically have begun on March 20th, but for New England cities like Boston, we’re still getting snow in mid-April — so national brands might want to save the sundress ads for Texas or Arizona.

Mobile Consumers Expect More

Data shows that consumers respond best to personalized messages, especially those aforementioned millennials. A study conducted by SDL revealed that 2 out of 3 millennials had little or no confidence that companies can market to them effectively. If blanket advertising tactics won’t work when it comes to the younger generation, reaching them where they connect with their peers will; that same SDL study found that 5 out of 6 millennials connect with companies on social media networks. What does this look like in the real world?

These Facebook mobile and desktop ads focus on local events.

As you can see, these ads are locally targeted and, most importantly, approved by peers; two key differentiators between Facebook and other major RTB platforms like Google’s Ad Network. Although the examples above are for regional events, the copy and images could easily be swapped for a climate-specific clothing sale, car dealership clearance or Mother’s Day-themed local florist discount.

BIA/Kelsey’s US Local Media Forecast, Mobile edition predicts that by 2018, locally targeted mobile ads will make up 52% of all US mobile ad spending, and it’s easy to see why. When MarketingLand conducted a study in conjunction with Nielsen called Mobile Path-to-Purchase, it revealed that 50 to 70% of consumers are most likely to respond to ads if they are relevant to local proximity and search intent. These results were across all channels, including restaurant, travel, and auto.

A Quick National vs. Local Case Study

Ben & Jerry’s — most recently of Instagram advertising fame — is a prime example of a national brand nailing the local focus game. As befits its grassroots-style branding, the ice cream company launched a summer campaign in 2013 that involved beards, recyclable spoons and mass transit. In conjunction with a national food truck tour, Ben and Jerry’s featured video footage of major cities (DC, NY, Miami, Portland, San Francisco) in multimedia banner ads on city-specific websites, using a microsite dubbed “City Churned” as a landing page.

At the time of the campaign, assistant digital marketing manager for Ben & Jerry’s Mike Hayes informed Adweek, “The bottom line is, we are trying to increase our sales. But this is also about developing deeper relationships with our fans.”

The Bottom Line

National campaigns hinge upon the concept of mass appeal, but one size does not fit all when it comes to consumers — even ones in the same demographic. Narrowing the focus to a particular region provides more budget efficiency and increases the likelihood that your ads will hit their target. When you go local on mobile, you’re in everyone’s pocket — and that can only mean good things for your bottom line.

Need help connecting with your local fans? Check out our blog post on Multiple Product Feeds.


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