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Advertisers Tap Local TV to Reach Holiday Shoppers

While this year’s holiday season is expected to bring in record levels of revenue—breaking the $1 trillion mark for the first time ever according to eMarketer—retailers are hardly sitting back counting their profits just yet. Growing economic uncertainty, a compressed timeline and the constant battle for consumer attention amid ongoing market fragmentation and competition have most looking for any and every way into consumers’ minds, hearts and wallets. 

Best of All Worlds
Retailers know if they don’t make that connection—and a subsequent conversion—they might break the bank since brands derive as much as 30% of their annual revenue from the holiday haul. This year, local television is proving to be an increasingly popular and effective means of successfully engaging consumers. There’s the reach of course—despite all the focus on digital, there’s still nothing that offers the breadth of exposure that linear provides. The local aspect, however, brings even more to the table. 

First, there’s the hometown advantage. Most Americans continue to get their news from local stations, which are trusted sources of information and the community connection tends to breed engagement and loyalty from those who watch, regardless of whether they’re viewing programming or promotion. Second, there’s the increasingly precise targeting capabilities that allow advertisers to direct the creative to audiences whose buying behaviors are a good match for specific retailers. Achieving both breadth and depth through one channel gives marketers the opportunity to have their (fruit)cake and eat it too. It’s also a powerful way for brands to drive consumers into local stores. 

A Sharper Lens
Robust audience segmentation is relatively new at the local level. As consumers have moved to embracing cross-platform viewing, the national networks began an evolution away from a ratings-based approach to audience measurement to one that focused on impressions. Unlike ratings, which round audience estimates to create viewing percentages, impressions recognize total program audiences. Buying on impressions results in the inclusion of a greater variety of programs on media schedules, which takes advantage of broadcast TV’s reach and provides a more granular level consumer targeting. 

Now local TV broadcasters are undertaking a major initiative to transition away from ratings to an impressions-based media currency to give advertisers greater visibility into local audiences across all the means stations use to broadcast content—linear or OTT, or even digital. With local broadcast TV on an impressions-based currency, advertisers will make a bigger impact on their most important consumers and local TV will be more conducive to multi-platform campaign planning.   

Brick-and-mortar still represents the majority (86.6%) of holiday sales, but its share is declining steadily. It’s a worrisome trend for retailers who count on in-store traffic to forge closer relationships with customers, gather more personal data and upsell them items that they hadn’t browsed or researched online. 

To counter it, many brick-and-mortars have started implementing “buy online and pick up in store” or BOPUS programs to help facilitate a flow of traffic to the store and also compete with Amazon Prime’s fast and free shipping. In fact, with six fewer shopping days this year due to a late Thanksgiving, BOPUS programs will be especially valuable to customers who order online, but bump up against shipping deadlines. Consumers appreciate BOPUS for its purchase immediacy, seamless shopping experience, package security and gift-giving secrecy. For brands, it’s all about driving more traffic to stores and potentially upselling customers once they’re there. 

While it’s too early to tell if the 2019 season will maintain its early momentum, the innovations that the challenges have inspired promise to offer marketers new opportunities both during the holidays and after.