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Think Digital with Local Media

Many small and medium sized local businesses are consumed with the desire and apparent need to ‘get to the top of Google’. This attitude is driven by the domination of Google for online search. Understandable, when you consider that Google (as at June 2014) has an 89.27* percentage share of the UK online search engine market. Bing and Yahoo are simply nowhere.

Because of the above statistics we are witnessing a continuation of the trend for increasing amounts of company marketing budgets being allocated to the areas of pay-per-click advertising (predominantly Google AdWords) and search engine optimisation or SEO for short. In the context of ‘web marketing’ spend this has hit hardest companies such as Yell.com; Thomson Local; and Scoot to name just three.

Consumers and searchers simply do not go to any of the above three online directories as a first port of call to find a local, trusted business. Google is the default home page for most of us now when we power up the Internet! Whilst we may end up on a Yell.com page having clicked through from Google, the number of eyeballs your Yell.com advert will reach is diminishing by the month and the conversion rate will not fare much better!

Over the last 10 years in the UK we have also seen the rise of websites such as Checkatrade; Rated People and Trust a Trader amongst others. Advertising on these websites does not come cheap and one could question the objectivity of the type of online directory where they charge £1,000+ for businesses to advertise and get listed. Maybe what we need is for consumers to have a website such as Trip Advisor, where we can find genuinely unbiased and legitimate reviews, recommendations, photos and advice for the best local businesses.

This begs the question then ‘is there any viable alternative for businesses to effectively and efficiently reach and get in front of local consumers and potential customers other than joining the never ending race to get to the top of Google?’

Social media aside, it seems that the current renaissance of local media websites suggests that there could be an alternative. Local media websites attract 79m unique users each month and advertising on local newspaper websites is 77% more likely to be believed and relied upon than advertising on other web sites**.

If we take a look at the website portal for Southern Daily Echo, we can see an appealing and information packed resource for local residents to discover the latest news and potentially find the best local businesses and trades.

What attracts so many people to use these local media websites? Often it is the 24-hour news feature where breaking new stories are uploaded to the website(s) all day, every day. It is the case to an extent that this type of relevant, interesting content will attract people to the site and keep them coming back for more.

Many local media groups will offer a range of exciting digital advertising solutions that combined with their print advertising packages provide a multi-channel advertising campaign for your brand that could drive local awareness allied to a potentially excellent campaign return on investment (ROI).

Local media is proving to be an effective channel for persuading consumers to take action. Other benefits for advertisers include the opportunity to associate your business with the most trusted brands in your area. More and more local media digital destinations are finding themselves at the heart of the community and can command prestige.

Flexibility for your local media advertising can be achieved by running your adverts only when it suits your business – weekends, when you have a sale, evenings only etc. Lastly, many of the best local media groups can utilise the latest targeting technology to put your message in front of the right people at the right time.

*Figures from digital research provider StatCounter.
**Newspaper Society – Consumer Catalyst.

Paul Brewster, July 2014