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The biggest boom in local is actually national. With geotargeting options, better metrics and better creative national brands and agencies are increasingly going the local route. GroupM research shows that 83 percent of brand advertisers expect their local online spending to be more than their overall projected online growth (25 percent) over the next three years. The session “National Advertisers, Targeted Locally” looked at the ins and outs of working national angles and local targeting.

Steve Sherfy, Local and Mobile Search Manager, GroupM Search

Adam Epstein, President and CEO, adMarketplace

Pete Gombert, Founder and CEO, Balihoo

Karl Siebrecht, President and CEO, AdReady

The panelists represented ad networks and agencies involved with helping national brands purchase local online advertising, including display and pay per click. One of the challenges they face is balancing the national brand’s need for control over strategy and messaging with the affiliate’s unique local knowledge.

AdMarketplaces’ Adam Epstein used the upcoming presidential election to illustrated this challenge. A national campaign headquarters might not understand all the local keywords they should be buying to tap into what motivates voters. In New Jersey, the keyword “deleveling” (it involves a local schools issue) is critical, but only a local campaign operative would know that. The same could be said for a local branch of a national restaurant chain.

Ultimately, the panelists agreed that national to local only works in a top-down model, but the national brands need to find a way to leverage local knowledge.

Pete Gombert, founder and CEO of Ballihoo, learned the hard way that trying to go around the national brand to sell directly to local affiliates didn’t work. “We found that selling to local SMBs is really expensive, it’s hard to get them to engage, and you see high churn,” he said. “We discovered that if we focused on how to create a platform to allow national brands to set up rules for how programs are enabled at the local level, then just let the program run, that works well.”

Epstein described it this way, speaking specifically about the automotive sector, which he says does national to local particularly well: “Local has to buy in to what you are doing. Internet is about scale. There has to be decisionmakers looking at a lot of data. You can’t herd 6,000 cats and come up with a digital strategy.”

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