Is Your Agency Taking the Easy Way Out?

November 16, 2020

61% of consumers prefer shopping at stores with a physical location.

Have you been hypnotized by the allure of the national media buy?

Many marketers who depend on local results still succumb to the promise of sweeping national campaigns touching a multitude of markets. Yet all they really do is use considerable assets to reach the wrong demographics and garner little ROI.

The national media buy is an agency’s big, easy way out

There are several reasons an agency might recommend a national media buy and many of them are better for the agency than for your brand.

Bigger, broader sweeping media buys are easier for agencies to establish and execute quickly. National campaigns require fewer choices and possibilities that slow agencies down. Contrast that with drilling down to the individual DMA or sub-DMA levels, which requires significantly more work and time for the agency. Even though the extra attention needed for targeted local buys may ultimately be more beneficial to brands and retailers, many agencies don’t propose a sub-DMA level strategy.

National media buys can also be beneficial to agencies because many of them buy in bulk. That means media increments are purchased in discounted blocks, then resold to clients at a profit. No matter the size, every client should demand to know the fee structure of media buys and be aware of any markups.

Choose variety over size every time

There are 210 DMAs in the U.S. and more than 40,000 sub-DMAs, each with its own unique shopping and media consumption habits.

With so many variables, marketers simply can’t reach them all with a national media buy. And they shouldn’t want to.

The number one variable of consumer shopping habits is proximity to store. If a consumer lives near a Target, they are more likely to shop at Target, even if online. For brands, media spend is most effective if it is applied at the sub-DMA level in applicable competitive areas.

Sub-DMA-level data analysis will show which channels are most effective for each area. If radio is widely consumed in one sub-DMA, a media buy strategy with radio will deliver better ROI. Media plans (yes, more than one!) specific to local audience behavior are more effective at resonating with consumers. Marketers should expect an agency to be willing and able to deliver these.

Sweeping plans whisk money away

One top-ranked show in a radio-heavy market can’t reach all customers in that radio-heavy sub-DMA. A media mix is important. Mixing multiple media platforms based on the research collected for a given area increases the potential of reaching a wider customer base.

Large, national media buys force marketers to pay for coverage areas outside of local markets, resulting in spend that generates zero ROI.

Next time your agency suggests taking the easy way out with a blanket national media buy, remember, a local mix is better. Tell your agency up front that you know it takes more work. If they’re not willing to do it, look for an agency partner that will.