The ABC’s of Localized Display Ads and Search for National Brands

When it comes to national brands running PPC, you fall into one of two camps: either you execute a single corporate strategy nationwide, or you separate out your local strategy into it’s own function and execution.  If you fall into the former group, you’re probably wondering why on earth you would separate the two strategies. Or maybe, you don’t even understand why “local” plays into digital advertising at all. It is the internet, after all.

You’d be dead wrong. If you are a large national brand with local brick and mortars, distributors, independent agents, or channel partners, it’s imperative to drive traffic to them DIRECTLY, not to your corporate site where they must determine for themselves where to get your product/service.

Leading national brands, and probably your competitors, are seeing the gap that their national PPC and display (banner) campaigns are creating, and reacting FAST. Between 2012 and 2014, the number of Fortune 1000 brands investing in local marketing increased 11%.1  Why? You see, Google and other search engines have been incredibly vocal in recent years about the power of localizing your digital campaigns, and rightly so.  Did you know:

  • Four out of five consumers want ads that are customized to their city, zip, or immediate surroundings.2
  • Localized display ads see 315% higher click-through rates.3

The local marketing, or channel marketing, bandwagon is filling up.  But for many brands, the execution isn’t scalable – they find their Digital Marketing Managers either building and optimizing 100s or 1000s of campaigns manually directly in Adwords, or uploading batch files over and over, sometimes dozens of times a day into their enterprise bid management solution that simply wasn’t built for a local execution.

I’ve decided to breakdown the ABC’s of local paid search and display (with a bonus letter D!) to help Digital Directors and Paid Search Managers understand the basics of this medium.

A is for Automation

You simply can’t run a truly localized display ad or paid search campaign for more than 50 locations manually in Adwords, or even in an enterprise bid management solution.  Whether an agency or brand, companies are seeing the efficiencies of investing in LOCAL marketing automation platforms to quickly manage and optimize campaigns at scale,  Eliminate tedious account creation, cumbersome keyword generation and complex bid strategies by investing in a local marketing cloud.  The ability to shift those man hours into optimization will have tremendous effects on your CPCs and CTRs, we’ve seen it over and over.

The benefits of local automation only compound when layering display on top of paid search.  Imagine being able to have your design team create a single Display Ad across a few size variations, only to have automation customize the creative with local information or graphics for every single location you have.  For instance, automation can plug in dealer logos, photos, products carried, or special deals. A bid management platform can’t handle this.

B is for Budget

You must set aside budget for local, separate from your national spend.  You’ll notice very quickly that your localized ads return a lower CPC and higher CTR, especially when optimized on the fly to boost high converting ad groups.

New budget not an option?  Look for a platform that allows for your local partners and owners to pitch in dollars.  If they’re savvy business owners, they’re already investing in local PPC, and by offering them a piece of the corporate strategy, and the power of automation, you’ll be improving BOTH your results.

C is for Cooperation

When local franchisees or partners purchase PPC on their own, they are actually competing with your national ads, their neighboring franchisees, and driving up costs for all parties.   You see, when national and local strategies are built to inform and compliment each other, the competition factor goes away.

By cooperating with the local guys, you can ensure results in exchange for valuable pieces of local data. For instance, companies use Balihoo Local Partner Connect to allow local distributors to provide local data – such as hours of operation, logo, directions, and specials to boost the power of both text and display ads, and in return, the distributor gets to view campaign reports on the phone and digital leads the campaigns are driving, proving ROI.

D is for Data

Leading national brands understand the power of using market data, such as demographics, to plan campaigns and allocate budgets. They do this all the time with both traditional and digital campaigns.  Add to that the targeting ability that paid search affords, such as interest and age targeting, and the results only compound.

However, in a local paid search environment, there a 3rd set a data that must be utilized for explosive targeting, and it’s right under your own nose!  It’s the data you already have on your individual locations – their addresses and phone number, the products they carry, their performance levels, etc.  By plugging in this data, you can not only customize your text and display campaigns (see Cooperation), but you can spend money only where it makes sense – perhaps for locations that are preparing for a grand opening, or for areas that are underperforming and need a boost.

This is where brands that try to use an enterprise bid management solution to execute localized display ads will miss out the most. These platforms simply don’t allow for dynamic 3rd party data to be plugged in by the brand. A local automation cloud will not only accept this data, or data from almost any other 3rd party source, but it will allow you to trigger off of it for truly brand-specific hyper-targeting and optimization.

  1. Balihoo and Gatepoint Research Microstudy, 2014
  2. Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, Ipsos MediaCT sponsored by Google, 2014
  3. Ad/Doubleclick for comScore