Why brands are buzzing about Local TV (and why you shouldn’t trust it)

In a typical year, advertising spend usually winds down during Q3. But 2020 is hardly a typical year. Instead, we’ve seen advertisers ramp up for a strong summer and fall after dramatically readjusting their Q1 and Q2 expectations.

The major issue facing marketers as these brands reevaluate their post-Covid advertising, is how to effectively manage shrinking budgets in an economic downturn amid striking uncertainty.

Each ad dollar in marketers’ pockets grew dramatically more valuable over recent months as the fate of businesses across the country depends quite literally on the success or failure of near-future campaigns.


Enter local TV.

Like a legendary hero destined to save the day, local TV is being hailed as a potential solution for successfully rejoining an increasingly unpredictable marketplace. To some extent, it makes sense. Brands can use local TV to run targeted ads in specific markets across the country as economies open and recover at varying rates. After all, why waste precious ad dollars on national spots, only to reach audiences that won’t patronize brick and mortar businesses for weeks to come?

There are a couple of problems with this way of thinking.


The trouble with local.

First, the work required to play this game is rarely worth the effort. Buying and optimizing local TV campaigns is hard work. Choosing the right markets, stations, dayparts, and programs quickly is nearly impossible without automation. Buyers manually maneuvering local can often waste their time and your money—the exact scenario you should be working to avoid. We’ve overcome this issue, thanks to the help of our AI-based comprehensive media buying platform, Annika®, but many traditional agencies lack this capability.

Second, while advertising nationally means some viewers won’t have access to your business, maintaining your share of voice is essential in a downturn. Ideally, consumers will think of you first when markets reopen. This is a whole lot less likely when, as far as they’re concerned, you’ve gone dark. If you turn your TV off in a market because they’re under a stay-at-home order, customers may not think of you when they eventually return.


Don’t disappear from the national stage.

Instead, stay top-of-mind and supportive as both businesses and consumers weather these times together. You’ll be rewarded in the long term.

We’re not denying local TV has an important place. We use it to support clients with local market initiatives and to complement scaled national campaigns. Even so, for brands looking to maximize ROI, local is likely not the complete answer.


What are your media options?

Listen to VP Media Catherine Walstad explain how our AI-driven media buying platform finds the best opportunities across the entire media landscape.