By Huong Cao

Broadcasters, publishers, digital media and agency executives attended LOCAL IMPACT DC to examine the Baltimore-Washington ad market at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Headquarters in D.C. The half-day program on May 10, organized by local media consulting firm BIA Advisory Services, included multiple panels focusing on local advertising, as well as trends and technologies driving consumer engagement in a world driven by social media.

Tom Buono, CEO and Founder of BIA and conference chair, kicked off the program by interviewing Former FCC Chairman Dick Wiley about his insights into different channels in today’s marketplace.

Wiley said the newspaper industry was having a hard time and suggested that newspapers and broadcasters should work together. “Broadcasters like the journalistic tradition that reporters at newspapers have, and newspapers could use the strengths that broadcasters have,” said Wiley. In terms of radio, Wiley considered it was a sustainable business and had one significant advantage – a chairman who really cared about radio and helped it compete in a challenging marketplace, where inequality also exists. As Facebook and Google are unregulated while broadcasters are dealing with many regulations, Buono asked Wiley what they could expect from Congress or FCC. Unfortunately, Wiley said he did not think policy coming from either Congress or the FCC to help level the competitive playing field between broadcasters and Facebook and Google could happen anytime soon.

In the realm of politics and races, Mark Fratrik, chief economist and senior vice president of BIA Advisory Services led a discussion on share-of-ad-wallet and advertising spending that will be coming to broadcasters this year with House, State, and local races.  This session featured Luke Frans, managing director of Deep Root Analytics; Dan Mellon, general manager of WJLA, Sinclair Broadcasting; and Steve Passwaiter; vice president and general manager, political at Kantar Media. Passwaiter said that while digital was obviously a growing area, television remains the king when it came to political advertising. He also suggested keeping an eye on Virginia’s 10th Congressional district election featuring Barbara Comstock for “it has the potential for lots of spending.” Passwaiter also mentioned Maryland’s governor’s race, but also said the potential for this race would not be as good as the potential for the VA-10 race, as multiple media markets were going to compete for this money. The bottom line is that there will be a lot of money going into political advertising this year.

In addition, Frans shared strategies to reach voters, one of them was to put audiences in the center of a strategy. “We need different messages to reach voters and keep in mind that all voters have different consuming patterns,” Frans said. Mellon also emphasized the importance of collaboration and cooperation. According to Mellon, many local agencies are now losing businesses because their businesses are going to others that specialize in a specific area. He suggested avoiding this by bringing solutions that help people reach the right target and, as a result, have their sales increase. “The world today is cooperation with advertisers, marketers and campaigns trying to figure out how to put the right message in front of the audience at the right time,” said Mellon.

Besides strategies and cooperation, digital capabilities also play an important role in boosting consumer engagement, as well as driving results. Craig Karmazin, CEO of Good Karma Brands, and Brendan Morrissey, CEO and founder of Netsertive, offered participants suggestions to succeed in the digital area.

“Be everywhere your audiences are,” Karmazin said, and he mentioned ESPN as a successful example of a brand which has the right mission from the beginning, which is to serve sports fans anywhere anytime. Karmazin suggested that brands should do the same. “You want to figure out who you are serving and be everywhere that they are rather than trying to hold on to your one delivery method.”

Karmazin also shared that audio is important. According to him, while the quality and impression help increase reach and frequency, the intimacy and emotional connection that audio can deliver in a podcast or in live-stream and radio formats will increase results. “In this market, if someone is working with local radio, we know that their digital plans will deliver way better than if they do not work with local radio,” said Karmazin.

Morrissey suggested using videos to drive engagement. When you run a video in the same market as other digital channels that you are using, “the search performance goes up even if no one clicks on the video,” he added. Morrissey also emphasized that brands do not have to create perfect videos. He stated that while advertising videos are all about quality, which can be expensive to produce, in the digital world, people are used to watching videos that are unprofessionally produced. Brands should keep doing, learning and re-applying that learning.

Celine Matthiessen, VP Insights & Analysis, at BIA detailed several interesting findings from the company’s advertising survey, including that one of the most popular types of digital advertising purchased through traditional channels is video. Worth noting is that small businesses purchase video through local TV and local cable, making video a strong selling opportunity for traditional media. Matthiessen also shared interesting stats on how advertisers view different media platforms. For instance, the firm’s survey findings indicate 59 percent of small businesses report “excellent” 10x ROI or “outstanding” 20x ROI for TV advertising, 52 percent for mobile display and 51 percent for streaming audio.

The last panel, which was moderated by Rick Ducey, managing director of BIA Advisory Services, focused on automation and its influence. The panel featured William Batson, vice president and director of sales of Hudson MX; Michelle Campbell, senior director, national sales of E.W.Scripps; Nicole Meade, programmatic account executive at E.W.Scripps; and Frank Friedman, president at Publicis Local Media Exchange.

Batson shared that 80% of issues in automation lie in the process and 20% in technical issues. On the other hand, Meade said that technical problems were challenging as there were days she could spend hours on the phone with a technology person because something was not working. Meade also pointed out the importance of having a buyer’s perspective. She shared that she spent lots of time talking to each platform and always made them go through the buying pitch and discuss how buyers look at a platform. “Ultimately, if a buyer does not like a platform, it is not going to sell.”

As the automation advertising trend is growing and the approach to client-buyer relationship is different. Friedman suggested being honest with employers about how the industry is doing and having conversations about how it needs to change because it is not getting any easier.

Campbell’s advice was not having local people who were charged with new businesses focused on automation very much. “We provide the information to the industry that needs to be provided to the industry to get better, but also we have to let our people do what we hire them to do and do it well.”

The event helped attendees explore helpful insights into local advertising market from knowledgeable guest speakers who were from both client and agency sides. In addition, the takeaways were also the different types of digital strategies that reach audience effectively.

BIA is holding LOCAL IMPACT events across the country. The next one will be held in Los Angeles on July 12.

Huong Cao is a George Mason University Undergraduate Teaching Assistant.

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