Outside Insight: Why are regional media sites so trustworthy?

26/11/2015

Online ads on regional news sites are viewed as trustworthy, relevant, and likely to prompt a purchase among consumers, according to new research. Almost half of local media site users say ads are a useful prompt about new products and services - so why are these sites so effective? We put some questions to Scott Gill, MD of 1XL...

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Why is local media seen as being so trustworthy?

Relationships are built on trust, which is developed over time, and local media publishers can lay claim to the UK’s oldest and most respected news titles – some were first published before the USA was founded. As a result, local titles have significant brand heritage and in some instances have spent hundreds of years earning trust as champions of their communities.

Why do you think local media advertising is so effective?

It’s partly the trust that local titles have built – the ads that feature in local media borrow some of this trust by association and we’re more likely to buy a product in response to an ad we trust. It’s also the added relevance. Advertising was once applauded and admired, leading people to adore brands. Ads no longer receive the same love because they aren’t seen as relevant, either to people’s interest and passions or their changing digital areas. This has led to people tuning out, skipping ads or, increasingly, blocking them completely. User engagement is the currency of the digital advertising world. If people are not viewing, or engaging, brands see less ROI and media companies see less revenue. Within the recent comScore research project, 55.6% of local media consumers acknowledged that regional sites provide the most relevant advertising – +14% against portals; +17% against national newspaper sites and +65% against social media.

Which key markets don’t currently maximise the benefits of local advertising?

We have seen a marked increase in advertisers utilising local media online over the past 12 months. In an increasingly cluttered digital market, brands are going ‘back to basics’, recognising the importance of building local communities as key to repeat business as well as positive ‘word of mouth’ to ensure the longevity of the brand. Some markets have moved faster than others in approaching local media from a digital perspective, for example we have had huge successes with motoring, travel and utility brands, whereas we’d love to do more for finance brands to put the high street bank firmly back into the heart of the local community.

Are national advertising campaigns also more effective on local media or is it the local campaigns that benefit more?

If we look at the most meaningful measures of effectiveness in comScore’s research, we see that people are 31% more likely to visit a store and 27% more likely to buy a product in response to ads on local media than national. These findings led comScore’s director of data services, Toby Crisp, to state that “those brands which predominately focus on national advertising could be missing a trick”. Of course, each campaign will need to be carefully considered, but the research to date suggests that regional tailoring of national campaigns could be a very effective way for brands to drive engagement and, ultimately, sales.

What lessons can we learn from local media advertising that can be applied to national newspaper advertising?

I’m not sure it’s my place to comment here! We can acknowledge that local media brands were once behind our national counterparts when it came to monetising digital inventory, but now that we have such a compelling proposition, I’m loath to spill the beans! We are effectively combining the engagement of local with the scale of national to offer ‘mass localisation’. That offers some really exciting possibilities – in fact, we should perhaps run a bespoke competition across Carat to find the most innovative way a national campaign can be executed within 1XL – watch this space!

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