Advertisers Frustrated by Local Targeting Tactics, Metrics

October 3, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Data-driven | Paid Search | Personalization | Retail & E-Commerce

National advertisers have a significant interest in doing more local online advertising, but are missing opportunities because they remain confused about the best tactics, traffic sources and measurement tools available, according to a study from Marchex, Inc. conducted by Sterling Market Research.

More than 70% of the 150 national advertisers surveyed say they currently are doing e-marketing. Among these, nearly half are pursuing local online advertising, and more than 40% are dedicating at least a quarter of their online marketing budgets to local targeting.


Despite growing interest, however, few local advertisers are directing ads below the state level. Only 10% of respondents target down to the DMA, city or ZIP. In addition, advertisers are distributing ads across a wide range of sites, including search engines, directories, newspapers and verticals, and marketers, with limited success metrics to measure campaign effectiveness.

Among the biggest challenges to going more local, cost (33%), lack of traffic to local sites (31%) and difficulty measuring ROI were cited by advertisers most often.


Additional findings:

  • Almost half of survey respondents said that at least 25% of their in-store sales were driven by online marketing.


  • More than half of respondents are using different messaging or tactics for different geographic or local markets.
  • 45% of online advertisers do not use distinct messaging for different geographic/local markets.

“National advertisers are clearly trying to leverage local online advertising to increase local leads and drive sales, but they’re having a tough time figuring out what’s working,” said Ed O’Keefe, VP of performance marketplaces at Marchex. “The good news is that there are techniques and products available, such as business profile pages and call-tracking, to help advertisers drive local leads online and track effectiveness of their local online advertising efforts.”

Best practices for local targeting, according to Marchex, include the following:

  • Diversifying and managing traffic sources beyond paid search
  • Using landing pages to drive leads to specific locations and markets
  • Tracking an analyzing all consumer actions – including calls, emails, form submissions, map prints and coupons – resulting from local online advertising efforts including determining results and ROI
  • Effectively tailoring ads to local markets and using local call tracking numbers to measure and help generate more calls

About the study: The study was conducted September 11-21, 2008, and surveyed 150 national advertisers or agencies that offer products and/or services through local outlets, dealers, franchises or branded stores across more than one state. It examined advertising budget allocations, local online advertising strategies and tactics, and ROI perspectives on national advertisers’ local online advertising efforts.

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