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The Changes in Local Advertising

Local advertising has changed and evolved many times over the years. From newspaper and radio to current digital avenues like social media advertising and pay-per-click search engine ads.

Technology gets better and more accessible to businesses of all sizes over time and with it comes innovation in how small businesses are able to get their messages across.

Businesses in smaller more rural communities have yet to take full advantage of many modern forms of communicating with their customers and have opted to stick to more traditional methods. Let’s define traditional advertising and analyze its effectiveness in 2019.

Burning newspaper

Traditional Advertising:

Traditional advertising refers to commonly used methods businesses have used to reach local customers in the past. Think of it as newspaper ad spots (print), audio ad spots on the radio, or commercials on tv.

These were great ways of reaching customers new and old. Before smartphones, you couldn’t seamlessly listen to Spotify in the car or pull out your phone to see what deals the grocery store had. You needed to stay in touch with the community and the only way to do that on a local level was listening to the radio and reading the paper or watching the most local to you tv network.

In the past, someone who wanted to keep up in the community on upcoming events, local news or just wanted something to listen to in the car, would often turn to the local radio channel.

This was an easy sell to a business because, in those days, you only had tapes, CDs and radio channels. A business's message reached a vast majority of the local cars on the road + the passengers inside. What great penetration!

Driving in a car

The newspaper was one of the few ways to stay in touch with what is happening in the community. So, businesses would buy ad spots there as well. Again, with the install base, another great method of advertising on a local level.

Even tv commercials have lost some of their appeal with more and more people replacing their cable boxes for streaming services like Netflix & YouTube.

The effectiveness of traditional advertising has waned over the years as the vast majority have opted to stream music and podcasts while driving and have turned to the ease of opening up Facebook/other social media platforms for local and national media coverage.

This doesn’t mean businesses can’t reach their current and prospective customers through these avenues, but their effectiveness has certainly dropped off tremendously.

Today businesses are competing with an array of distractions for their customer's time and unfortunately, the average person in 2019 just isn’t tuning in to local radio channels or picking up the newspaper like they used to.

Businesses just flat out have to communicate better, in the right places.

Digital Advertising in the Local Market:

Mobile phones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and time spent is increasing year over year. In 2018, reports have shown users spend upwards of 4 hours per day on their phones.

The sophistication of digital advertising provides businesses who are shifting their advertising focus online a leg up on their competition who’s still hanging onto their daily morning radio spot.

Phone with Facebook on screen

Let’s compare a business that spends advertising dollars in the newspaper (Company A), to one that mainly advertises online (Company B).

The typical entry price of a newspaper ad is $200. This would be a pretty small image with some text somewhere amongst the entire paper. Not off to a great start cost-wise.

The effectiveness of this ad will depend on:

1. Community resident gaining access to the paper

2. That person seeing the advertisement amongst the rest of the paper

3. They’re interested enough & convert on the call to action (CTA)

There are several problems with this method’s effectiveness in 2019.

First, what is the likelihood that a potential prospect for Company A is going to read the local newspaper? Unlikely at best.

Second, is this even the right person? The newspaper (like most traditional advertising), has no way of selectively showing a business’s ad to a specific person matching the criteria of an ideal customer. They’re spending ad dollars on mostly the wrong people not fitting the bill of their average client.

Even if Company B does get the right person looking at their ad, what does the business want them to do? Put down the paper and call them...on their phone? or visit them in person? Conversions are hard to come by if they aren't immediate.

Company B, who’s spending money on digital ads, can opt to show their ads to only local community members who fit their ideal customer's attributes.

Selling houses? It probably doesn’t make sense to show that ad to people who’ve bought homes in the past few years. With digital ads, you can be that specific.

Further to that, Company B doesn’t have to stick to their local market. Have a boutique? Instead of spending money in the newspaper reaching only your community, you can show ads to ideal customers throughout a province, or an entire country and even start shipping products directly to them vastly expanding your company’s reach & growing your home province & local community’s economy.

Digital ads also hinge on online conversions giving you the best chance to converting because they don't have to remember to do something else, they can convert right there!

You can also track ads much more being able to quickly determine which campaigns were successes and which were failures.

Company B can determine exactly how their ads performed and their return on investment (ROI) down to the cent.

If Company A is primarily focusing on traditional methods, they won't be able to tell if their ads are successful or not. If they had a poor month, was it because their advertisements weren't good or market conditions?

Company B will gain insights into the effectiveness of each campaign and if its ads are conversion-based, the exact ROI from each dollar spent.

Reviewing analytics

Starting a digital strategy today ensures your company can grow with technology and adapt on the fly in the local market. Relying solely on outdated ways of advertising will see continuously dwindling ROIs and leave whoever is in charge of your ad strategy scratching their head month to month.


If your business is struggling to create and scale digital campaigns, reach out to us at to schedule a consultation.


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