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Speaking at Digital Media East 2013 today, I shared five themes we’re seeing in local media and among Small-Medium Businesses (SMBs):

1. Traditional Media rule… and will continue to do so.

2. Content (generation, discovery, distribution) as ever stronger nexus among brands, media, audiences.

3. Omnichannel, transmedia campaigns for greater lift.

4. SMB “Operating System” – mobile commerce, CRM, analytics, card linked offers, transactional marketing, etc.).

5. National Reach, Local Activation – national agencies and brands by geo-targeted local media.

A bit of a spoil sport perhaps to be saying this at a digital conference, but based on our forecast of spending in local markets out to 2017, BIA/Kelsey sees the traditional media segments of the pie retaining by far the majority of ad spend with only $41B of $148.8B overall being spent in online/interactive. As we are fond of pointing out to the digital literati, even tech companies use traditional media to get their messages out. Traditional media work and are a vital part of many media allocation plans.

The role of content continues to morph with different actors in the local ecosystem casting content in different roles. Media (editorial, scripted, news), brands (content marketing), retailers (advertorial) and audiences (reviews, blogs, likes, shares) are all content producers in an increasingly interrelated ecosystem. Content is becoming the glue that binds brands, media, audiences and retailers into an unified experience variously referred to as cross-platform, transmedia or omnichannel that seamlessly continues the user engagement across dayparts, devices and milestones along the journey to purchase.

Brand managers, agencies and media executives are beginning more seamless planning and execution around cross-channel or omnichannel campaign management. For example, there’s strong evidence that display ads significantly increase search conversion. We also see that TV ads can increase online revenue per click. This points to importance of campaign planners and media buyers to integrate the campaign strategy and creative with the innate capabilities of not only individual media channels but also their synergistic effects.

We’re also seeing Small-Medium Businesses (SMBs) evolve a grab bag of tools into a more effective use of cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) functionality ranging from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to ad tech and marketing tech solutions for managing in-bound leads; lead generation; bidding for programmatic search and display ads; and leveraging big data in card linked offers and other transactional marketing solutions that leverage the power of customer data. This provides even very small businesses the same kinds of tools and functionality and affordability that once were the exclusive province of Fortune 500 firms.

Finally, another big trend we’re seeing is the increasing role of the national brand in local markets. BIA/Kelsey’s advertising revenue forecasts illustrate that national advertisers play a significant role in the purchasing of advertising opportunities across many different local media outlets. In 2012, our estimates are that national brands spent $45.2 billion dollars in local media advertising such as direct mail, television, print yellow pages, radio, out-of-home and more. This amount accounts for more than a third (33.6 percent) of all spending in local media.

We’ll be covering these five themes in great depth at our upcoming Leading in Local conference, December 10-12 in San Francisco. Be there and join the conversation!


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