National Advertisers

Local Publishers Are Making Big Gains with National Advertisers — Here’s Why

Decades of hard work are paying off for local news publishers. After years of courting brands and steadily growing their advertising programs, local media companies are seeing a surge in interest from national brand advertisers this fall.

Locally-focused digital publishers like 6AM City and Whereby.Us have started seeing an increase in national advertisers “exploring their options” in local media. Gannett’s USA Today Network of local daily publications has seen an uptick in interest from national advertisers, as well.

What’s behind the movement?

A large part can be attributed to the hard work local publishers have put into growing their brands. Over the past decade, independent online publishers have grown from a small niche into a thriving industry. Local publishers have deep ties with people in the communities they cover, and those ties are a big part of what’s attracting national advertisers.

Another aspect has to do with the evolving needs of direct-to-consumer advertisers. The world of advertising and marketing is changing, and brands are looking to reach consumers in a very different way now than they were in year’s past. Part of that new strategy involves aiming more directly at local and regional audiences — the exact audiences that local publishers have such strong connections with.

Cost is a factor, as well. While advertising costs vary substantially from publication to publication, broadly speaking, hyperlocal publications have cheaper inventory than national publications. Those discounted rates are driving interest from national advertisers, who now feel like they are getting a steal.

Although it’s true that the audience size for local media buys is typically smaller than with national buys, those audiences are hyper-targeted. That means national advertisers know exactly who they are reaching and they know exactly what they are paying for. For example, the regional newsletter publisher 6AM City is reportedly charging around $25,000 for ad spots in its newsletters, which typically last four to six weeks, netting out to approximately $1 per 1,000 active readers.

Like many local publishers, there was a tipping point with 6AM City. Before reaching that tipping point, it was more challenging to court national advertisers. In an interview with Digiday, 6AM City COO Ryan Heafy said it wasn’t until the company broke 250,000 subscribers two months ago that it started getting more inquiries from direct-to-consumer brands and national advertisers like Bombas, Harry’s, and Simplisafe.

Whereby.Us, which has five regional media brands in Florida, Oregon, Washington, and Pennsylvania, has also seen a jump in demand from national advertisers. It now has nearly 85,000 total subscribers across its five newsletters.

As local communities begin to come out of their Covid-19 lockdowns, and businesses begin reopening over the first half of 2021, there’s an expectation that national advertisers will shift even more of their budgets away from national publications in favor of locally-targeted media. In areas with restricted economies, in particular, being involved with a publication that has a deep level of connectedness with local consumers puts national brands at a major advantage.

In an interview, USA Today Network’s Michael Kuntz said his team has been contacted by a number of national advertisers wanting to know the best approach for connecting with audiences in areas that have begun re-opening this fall, like Florida and Georgia. He says that Florida, in particular, is a place where many national travel brands are looking to spend their advertising dollars right now. That’s a big difference from years’ prior, when advertisers were primarily interested in spending on USA Today Network’s national publication, USA Today.

When communities reopen their restaurants and retail chains, national brands want their ads to be the first that people see. They want their businesses to be the first businesses people think of as they leave their homes after lockdown and return to their normal spending patterns. Over and over again, we’re hearing that national brands are planning to rely on local advertising as their primary strategy for achieving those goals.

To learn even more about what it takes to court national advertisers as a local publisher, contact Web Publisher PRO today.