On the Road, Talking ‘Local Local’ and ‘National Local’

You learn a lot from talking to local advertisers. Occasionally, I get to leave my ivory tower and give a speech or appear on a panel in front of local advertisers.

Generally, I’m talking “Local Local.” A couple of weeks ago, I was in Atlanta to address the Buck Rogers society of the Photo Marketers Association (i.e., photo stores). What I found is that these prototypical small-business owners – in their 50s, all male and mostly bearded – are pretty much up-to-speed with their Web sites. They’ve also done a good job assembling e-mail lists. But they aren’t necessarily doing much with either of them.

In addition, they’ve just started thinking about using the Web to get found outside their existing customer base (i.e., SEO/SEM). And they haven’t really thought of themselves as a hub for photo knowledge in their community with e-newsletters, blogs or Wikis.

If you can see the incredible passion that these people bring to photo printing, and photo-related services, you have to wonder – why not? Why don’t they become part of the Flickr universe? Why hand it off to Snapfish or Costco?

For photo shops, my POV is that they can make their money off photo prints and related merchandise, but they should work hard to reposition themselves as the soul of their community’s “memories.” That’s how they’ll keep themselves relevant. (Thanks to FujiFilm for hosting me over there.)

This week, I was talking “National Local” with the Las Vegas Interactive Marketing Association – mostly a group of marketers for Sin City casinos, hotels and restaurants. Obviously, they are less interested in reaching Las Vegas residents. Although the Vegas population is fast-growing, their primary interest is bringing people into the area. The event was on the balcony at the exclusive Foundation Club atop Mandalay Bay.

Most local media sites, of course, are very eager to increase their “national” and regional spend, which generally accounts for roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of their revenues. For them, the Vegas marketers would be a home run, especially in adjoining media markets like Southern California and Arizona.

It hasn’t been an easy sale, however. Until recently, local buying has been a city-by-city ordeal. It is largely up to networks like Centro and Advertising.com to change that. Or the portals.

On the panel with me at LVIMA, Centro’s Shawn Riegsecker and Advertising.com’s Ben Trenda obviously thought their respective networks had something to provide to the Vegas marketers. They debated the relative merits of their respective approaches. Between the two approaches, it seemed like a draw.

Riegsecker noted that Centro will place ads with the best local media sites and provide the benefits of loyal readers, contextual placement (i.e., in the entertainment sections) and custom packages. He noted that Centro is fast-growing and its reach is now at No. 20 overall. That’s kind of impressive in itself.

Advertising.com, on the other hand, has the No. 1 reach – although it is not necessarily focused on local. Trenda noted that advertisers can easily deploy Advertising.com to geotarget users as they see fit and adjust frequency as they like (i.e., heavy Thursday rotations before the weekend). And it’s often perceived as cheaper.

There is, of course, a stigma to “remnant” advertising, where advertisers find out they’ve been placed on lousy and unrelated inventory (i.e., “about us” pages). But Advertising.com and other networks try to avoid both the term and the practice. Trenda said Advertising.com manages its campaigns carefully and ensures better quality placement, based on advertiser needs.

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