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When I started working with local advertisers I started to hear comments about perceived limits to their access to digital media that surprised me.  What I heard was just plain wrong. What I discovered is that many local advertisers are still approaching digital media through the paradigm of their traditional media perspective. 

Specifically, I was told that one of the largest local advertisers had actually purchased ALL of the pre-roll video inventory from every local news station. Because the pre-roll video on all the local news stations was 'sold out', this advertiser make what might be a logical assumption that there was no more pre-roll video available to them.

But that's not how digital media works. That is how traditional media works. And so I am going to try to change perceptions by identifying why and how digital media is fundamentally different than the legacy traditional media model in this post.

For context, I discovered that many local advertisers are first introduced to some form of digital advertiser through their relationship with their current traditional media salesperson (e.g.  television, radio, or print advertising sales).

This initial introduction to digital marketing - many times sold as a 'packaged solution' heavily skewed toward the TV, radio or print media's own digital properties - reinforced a perception that - for the local advertiser - access to digital media went through their TV, radio or print media.

But this is not how the digital media landscape needs to work. And frankly, it limits the potential opportunity for many advertisers when all they are shown are packaged bundles.   Most local advertisers and small-medium sized businesses are not actively following trends in digital media, and may not have ever heard of a DSP, programmatic,  or may have dabbled with Google Adwords and found it overwhelming and a distraction from running their company.

Facebook, and to a smaller degree, Google Adwords, are starting to peel back this dimension about digital: there is a self-serve aspect that is extremely flexible and efficient and offers the local or small business an amazing array of choice of audiences, ad formats, scheduling, etc...   But beyond Facebook (primarily) most small businesses are not aware that they can use a variety of  self-serve tools and/or DSP's to reach almost any audience through banners, video, search, etc... without having to go through their local media rep, agency or anyone.

Let's be honest: Owners and managers of local or regional businesses have a lot of hats to wear and a lot of work to do. I've been amazed at the number of skills and multitasking that is required to operate a small business when there are no staffs of people to handle specific functions. So the small business owner's time and energy is not spent thinking about the differences of digital media versus traditional media.

When I talk to one of these advertisers, I have to demonstrate that people in Everett, Spokane, and Kennewick are not merely going to their local news sites for video (or other content).  They go to hundreds of websites and apps with no local connection at all.

Local media sites can be an important place to reach local audiences but it is absolutely not the only place. While this seems self-evident, it's surprising how strong the hold is on a  small businesses whose advertising perspective is still formed by their long-standing traditional media perception.   The transformation of this paradigm requires a more accurate view of the 'Digital User Perspective' - which is distinct from the "Local Media Perspective".  

It's a critical piece of understanding to realize that local media are not the channel or the gatekeeper to users on the internet, but just one of millions of websites and apps where audiences can be reached.

And while that local television or newspaper website or app may be a good place to reach potential customers, its just one of among thousands of places that local prospects can be reached.


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