The Problem with Local Paid Search – Why it’s Almost Impossible to Execute.

Local Paid Search is the art of building pay per click (PPC) campaigns focused on local conversion through retail stores, agents, or distributors, and is a popular strategy among top brands that rely on local foot and phone traffic. However, as a national brand, building and optimizing PPC campaigns for each of your individual locations as if it were your ONLY location is often unattainable in practice, stretching your marketing team to overload, or requiring an abundant amount of paid agency time.

So what are national brands to do?  Smart brands are increasingly turning to automation technology.

Local Paid Search is Becoming More Critical:
– More than 2.6 billion local searches are conducted every single month.(14)
– Searches conducted with “local intent” have increased 34-fold since 2011.(1)
– In 2015, Google reduced the number of organic local listings displayed on desktop and mobile by 58%(11), thus increasing the opportunity for paid ads to be displayed.
– Searches with “local intent” convert to sales at twice the rate of non-local searches. (15)

“Local is arguably the most important part of the search market because of its financial impact.” -comScore

Most multi-location national brands simply don’t have the man power to manually execute individual campaigns for each location. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Managers are in high demand, with salaries rising dramatically each year.
– In 2015 alone, the approximate number of posted job opens for SEM Managers skyrocketed to 22,900.(4)
– Across all careers, SEO/SEM marketing was among the top five skills that effectively got marketers hired in 2015.(5)
– Over the past three years, the average salary for an SEM Manager in the United States has risen more than 30%.(6)

A shortage of skilled and affordable Search Engine Managers often translates to overworked teams, human error, minimal time for optimization, and oversimplified and ill performing strategies. One strategy in particular that is often overlooked, postponed, or outsourced is Local Paid Search.
Why is local paid search so difficult to execute? 4 Roadblocks to Executing Local Paid Search:
1. Setup and Maintenance
Paid Search Managers that are accustomed to creating nationwide campaigns often struggle with the time required to launch, maintain, and optimize ad campaigns for each location. These same managers end up spending most of their day delving into spreadsheets, downloading and uploading large files to make minor keyword adjustments, and striving (but often failing) to optimize ad copy. A lack of appropriate features in traditional bid management platforms causes a painful growth spurt that modern marketing teams are essentially unprepared to handle.

-4 – The number of pages of forms required to create an ad campaign for a single location in a popular enterprise bid management solution.
-40% – The percentage of platform features that enterprise bid management users estimate they are able to use when executing local campaigns.(12)
“[Our platform’s] location targeting is extremely cumbersome and does not allow for much flexibility. I usually have to go directly into Adwords to set up locations one by one.” – Digital Marketing Manager, Enterprise Bid Management User
“Updating budgets takes me four to eight hours across all my locations for a single brand” – SEM Manager, Enterprise Bid Management User

2. Reporting
Not only are Paid Search Managers under increased pressure to provide relevant top-line metrics, they also feel the squeeze from local partners to provide insight into the street-level benefits of campaigns. Enterprise bid management platforms can’t report across campaigns for a single location, again putting the burden on digital strategists to become spreadsheet experts.
a. 25% of Digital Marketers note ‘Metrics and Analytics’ as being a top challenge. (9)
b. 42% of SEM buyers review campaign reporting in spreadsheet attachments.(10)
c. 35% of franchise brands don’t track ROI on their local marketing spend at all.(13)
3. Optimization Using Data
SEM managers for multi-location brands struggle to keep up with new locations, closed locations, changes in hours, and product offerings -, not to mention maintaining optimal targeting for campaigns that only affect a segment of locations, such as underperforming stores or stores in areas with certain weather conditions. Under-optimized campaigns lead to low Quality Scores, higher costs, and fewer qualified clicks.
a. Approximately 543,000 local small businesses open their doors each month.(14) Many of these businesses are local outlets and partners for national brands.
b. Cost per click (CPC) increases a whopping 400% when Quailty Score is ‘Poor’ (compared to ‘Average’).(7)
“Pausing campaigns, updating negative keywords, updating geo-targeting and ad copy updating are all processes that are overly complicated and time consuming. No ties to data means no automation.” – Digital Marketing Manager, Enterprise Bid Management User
4. Dynamic Creative and Keyphrases
Ask any Digital Marketing Manager at a national brand about keyword spreadsheets, and you’ll surely get a bevy of complaints about the practice. But without automation, the only way to localize key phrases, ad copy, and display creative across hundreds of locations is to burn the midnight oil versioning out individual creative. Lacking automation, this potential resource drain is a necessity for multi-location brands that strive to provide the locally relevant ad campaigns their target consumers look for and respond to.
a. Four out of five consumers want ads that are customized to their city, zip, or immediate surroundings.(2)
b. Localized display ads see 315% higher click-through rates.(3)
c. According to Google, using local Sitelinks can improve click thru rate (CTR) by nearly 30%(8)

Balihoo is purpose-built for local search and display marketing executed by national brands.
Through automation, the Balihoo platform does the same things at scale that you would do if you were managing ad campaigns for a single location. This means that each location always has its own budget and daily pacing, target radius or zip codes, customized text and display ads, and reporting dashboard.
For every campaign you run, Balihoo builds hundreds or thousands of customized, geo-specific versions of your professionally developed text and display ads. This means you receive the benefit of increased performance that a local strategy affords, while avoiding the headache of generating complicated spreadsheets and individual campaign assets one-by-one.
“The Balihoo platform ties into our database, allowing monthly budgets and many other elements to be maintained through an automation tool. This saves time and allows us to spend more of this extra time optimizing across hundreds of locations.” SEM Strategist, Balihoo User
To learn more about Balihoo Local Paid Search, visit

1. Google
2. Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, Ipsos MediaCT sponsored by Google, 2014
3. Ad/Doubleclick for comScore
4. USNews
5. LinkedIn
6. Indeed
7. Hubspot
8. Ascend 2 and Research Partners
9. Metamarkets
10. Bruce Clay
11. Balihoo survey
12. Suttle-Straus
13. Docstoc
14. Hubspot
15. xAd / Telemetrics