Local online advertising is especially effective for local businesses that know a few simple steps in how to target their ads.
After decades of working in media, I can say without a doubt that many local advertisers understand the concept of targeting ads but struggle with how to do it online.
They understand that local newspapers are delivered mainly to local readers, that radio and TV stations only reach local listeners and viewers, and cable companies provide service only to local customers.
But a Web site is accessible to the entire world.
A local business doesn’t want its ads to be seen by people in Dubai or the Ukraine because those people are highly unlike to shop at the advertiser’s business in a place such as Charlottesville, Virginia.
There are three simple ways to target local online advertising.
1) Buy Ads on Local Sites
Some sites obviously target local audiences. Examples include the sites of local media mentioned above — newspaper, radio, TV and cable.
Quite a few local guides have been making their presence felt in recent years. They represent another opportunity.
It is critically important to ask that the campaign use ad serving software with the ability to target geographically and block any visitors from outside the area, state or the country.
Keep in mind that targeting by city runs a much higher risk of inaccuracy because of the limitations of the software and the cookies that are used to track user behavior.
In addition, the U.S. is a transient society with people willing to drive many miles between home and work. It is better to target a cluster of nearby cities that limiting the campaign to just one.
The reason why is that it is much more difficult for ad serving software to identify correctly a visitor who really is within the state but not within the local area.
2) Buy Ads on National Sites with Local Channels
Numerous national sites are reaching into local markets in an attempt to capture local advertising.
Examples include major employment sites such as Monster, auto sites such as AutoTrader and realtor sites such as Realtor.com.
A hospital that needs to hire more nurses and wants to raise the presence of its job postings on an employment site may not want to hire someone from 2,000 miles away and pay the hefty expenses of moving that person.
So they ask the site account executive to target their ads geographically and confine the target to its own state.
3) Buy Ads on Networks with Local Distribution
The biggest example of an ad network with local distribution is Google AdWords, which displays ads on Google.com but also distributes those ads to partner sites through the AdSense program.
An advertiser can research sites that have a local presence and place a campaign only on those sites.