In the ever-changing media landscape, and in these most uncertain times, small businesses have had to navigate how to effectively brand and promote themselves. As Michael Bartoli, senior vice president advertising sales at a4 Advertising sums it up, "messaging is key." In that vein, a4 Advertising has focused both their deep local and regional relationships, combined with their extensive backend data reporting to offer advertisers a robust multiplatform advertising strategy.
Regardless of whether they are existing clients or new to local ad sales, a4 Advertising is focusing on making those connections to the local community. "We offered some small business relief packages, very aggressive with some pricing, but also, with production. The message had to change quickly" Bartoli continues. "We offered our advertisers free or discounted creative to change the message that they're (offering) to curb side pickup, delivery, remote contact and we're cleaning…we're here and you know we're safe. These are some of the things that we're doing to kind of set your mind at ease. So, it was really the messaging that had to change and pivot quickly."
It is partnering with the local advertising community that's at the heart of local ad sales, so we asked Bartoli how the a4 Advertising sales team was reaching out to their clients and prospects. "'We'll get through this together.' That was our messaging." Bartoli also noted that an important component in this conversation was expectations and discussing them upfront. Data is amazing, but data can't overcome unrealistic expectations. a4 Advertising's addressable capabilities deliver, but what do new advertisers look for? "I think when creating a local campaign, too many times we don't spend enough on the message itself and make sure it matches the audience". Bartoli elaborates "Understanding and finding that audience, but the message has to speak to that audience". So, working backwards, creating a message that will drive potential customers into your business, and targeting that message to those potential customers.
With changes in viewing habits and overall lifestyle habits, those customers are everywhere. According to Bartoli, for example, News12, an a4 Advertising owned local and regional news network, saw a shift in day part viewing habits, reflective of people staying home. "We're going to reach your audience on any screen, any device within a home that we have the ability to reach," Bartoli says.
How are metrics different in local ad sales? "In the local world measuring success is a little bit different than the major agencies on Madison Avenue in New York City. They have to bring in more customers, bring in a new type of customer, and bring in customers from a different geography that they normally wouldn't reach. How you measure success in the local world (is a) conversation that needs to be set up front, what those expectations are up front." This is a conversation the local a4 Advertising team is ready to have. To help facilitate new local business, the agency created the "We're Open" page as another way small businesses can create awareness in the multifaceted world of a4 Advertising.
Of course, knowing who your customer is, where they come from, and how they see your message, is vital. Driving your message to the right customer, and then analysing who exactly that customer is will define a successful campaign. Bartoli expands on this "You know, we can still deliver the cord cutter. They still are subscribing to our online product. And then once (they) cut the cord, we still have access to reach them on CTV and OTT." He concludes "Retailers that have those million-dollar budgets to spend are great, (but) let's get the small business owner in there".
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