Put Your Money Where Your Market is:  Local-Based Media Programs June 2017

Contributing writers: Tim Jones, Media Director, Blue Plate Media Services, David Becker, President, Blue Plate Media Services

When we think of marketing programs in the Toy or Play category, we tend to think of national, border-to-border, coast-to-coast campaigns.  This makes sense when you have the distribution and the budget to support a national campaign.  But what happens if you don’t have the distribution to support a national campaign?  Or, you have pockets of distribution that would benefit by a geo-targeted approach.  Or, perhaps, you might want to overlay a local campaign to support lackluster sales in key markets.  Marketers are missing a massive opportunity to impact their business if they don't take local marketing seriously. Local marketing programs can go beyond state and market level targeting to focus on zip codes and specific locations such as stores and playgrounds. 

Geography-based media planning is an effective tool for creating effective and efficient media plans directed towards the most opportune geographic areas that are important to your business with media vehicles that are most relevant to your prospects.  Beyond traditional media, including TV, OOH, Radio, Cinema and Print, geo-targeting and media measurement has become more sophisticated and easier to implement as a result of emerging digital technology. Increased access to audience data now allows brands to tap into location pattern data to target better and to adjust media and market selection/weighting/timing to be more effective.

National vs Local?

When should you buy media nationally and when should you think about local marketing?  The answer depends on multiple factors:

·    Retail Distribution - How concentrated or dispersed is your distribution?

·    Regional Patterns of Performance - Is there is geographic skew to sales performance?

·    Regional Patterns of Product Usage - Is product usage skewed to different geographies due to weather, seasons, or other factors?

·   Location-based Impact - Is your campaign strategy dependent upon delivering contextually relevant messages at specific locations (stores, malls, etc.)  or activities (gyms, schools, etc.)?

·   Budgets  - Are budgets a constraint to buying national?

The key advantage to local marketing is the opportunity to focus the budgets where your market is –aligning marketing to sales.  You have the ability to place marketing emphasis in areas of strength or opportunity.  With the proper KPIs and tracking metrics, a brand can gain valuable learning:  a better understanding of market differences, media selection that delivers impressions efficiently, creative differences and effectiveness.

On the flipside, localized media initiatives can leave brands with low local reach as a result of poor media selection and implementation. Local media outlets may be limited in scope, targeting and market penetration.  Additionally, product distribution may be under-supported in areas with low or no emphasis.  Lastly, local media can become costly and it is important to monitor the cost/value equation of expanding local marketing vs going national.

Local Media Options

Imagine this:   You have a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and you want to support it with advertising, or you want to drive product messaging during the Super Bowl.  Now you can, even with limited dollars.

Well, you can go direct to the broadcast network and negotiate a deal for a national commercial.  But you’ll quickly find out that a single :30 second spot during the parade can cost you $400,000 and a spot during the Super Bowl could run up to $5MM. 

You have more options than you know.  You can place your TVC in specific local markets or the top DMAs on the stations airing the event at half the cost. Or you can save your TVC dollars and retarget those people who have watched the parade or the Super Bowl, by capturing their IP address and serving a digital unit to them.

For example: 

·  You are watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.   As soon as you go to your laptop or tablet, you are served ad units that relate to the Macy’s Parade that you just watched. 

·  Or, you are watching the Macy’s Parade.  You see an ad.   Then, as soon as you go to your laptop, and begin surfing, you are retargeted with the same ad…repeatedly.

There are a multitude of media options at the local level. Finding the right options depends on the target audience, the campaign timing, the geography, the time/location/activity you wish to interrupt or impact and the creative assets available. In developing the local plan, marketers will need to tap into media research to understand all of the options, audiences and pricing. Leverage your advertising agency partnerships and vendors.

Imagine this: Your K4-9 targeted product is available across the country but you have a sub-national budget. What do you do?

Kids Cable TV can be localized in many ways:

·         If analysis shows retail distribution is national, consider the national footprint of Satellite TV

·         If local, key markets can be bought at the Designated Marketing Area level, the metro area level and even specific zones within specific cities (if store distribution is highly concentrated).

Below we have summarized a broad overview of media options and their advantages and limitations: 

Beyond some of the more traditional approaches, such as taking a localized approach to your TV campaign, the greatest advancements in location based marketing are occurring in digital media where devices and data allow us to target more effectively.

Digital & Mobile: Evolving Location Based Media Strategies

Imagine this:  You have been tasked with maximizing your media investment by implementing a location-based marketing strategy, while still seeking an engaged online audience.  

The way people behave, as captured by their mobile and desktop activities, can be the most powerful signal for understanding who they are and what they want. As a result of innovations in location intelligence, marketers can now leverage latent and real-time mobile and desktop data to better target consumers based on where they go, effectively measure how digital ads drive foot traffic into stores, and even connect the consumer journey from ad exposure to store visit to purchase data. According to Nielsen Mobile Insights (Q4 2016), 88% of the U.S. adult population owns a smart phone in 2017. This user base and the growing wealth of data that smartphones provide helps fuel advertisers’ ability to precisely reach and serve their messaging.

Location intelligence has become a massive industry and a widely used digital tactic across many brand verticals including retail, consumer package goods, beauty and more. These innovations help power significant amounts of high quality data and insights that drive critical decision-making for a wide range of businesses. Accuracy as a result of digital and mobile location has also become hugely important when building audiences of consumers, as location serves as an indicator, and provides insight into an online or mobile user’s daily life.

To understand why location data matters, marketers should begin by developing a baseline understanding of where the data comes from, the types of location data available, and the uses for location targeting.

Digital/Mobile Targeting Methodology & Location Based Solutions

Geo-targeting across All Devices

Imagine this:  Your product is being tested by a major retailer in 3 DMAs.  You want to ensure that you drive your messaging to ensure a winning market test and to gain valuable market learning in the process.

Geo-targeting on desktop or mobile devices can be drilled down on many levels. The most common are DMA, Zip code, state level, and radius.  Desktop location is often identified based on its individual IP address or internet connection location, while mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are pinged based on a variety of attributes, primarily as a result of the device’s location services (GPS), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi connections, and more.

Below are key definitions of the different levels of digital and mobile geo-targeting.

Chart 2.jpg

Geo-Target Criterion


Nielsen Designated Market Area - Nielsen assigns each television household exclusively to one of 20 Designated Market Areas in the U.S. These DMA’s are ranked by the number of televised households, e.g., New York is the nations’ largest DMA with 7.3 million television homes or 6.4% of all U.S. television homes.

State- Based on user registration or other data, digital audiences can be tracked by state.

IP-Based - Because of their long-standing, direct, billing relationships with their customers, companies like Verizon, Comcast and Cox can deliver digital addressable solutions that allow advertisers to reach local consumers as they browse online from home with geo-accuracy and quality.

Radius - Given a digital user’s latitude/longitude coordinates obtained from a mobile phone’s GPS chip, audiences within a certain radius of an advertiser’s physical location(s) can be targeted and served relevant ads.

Zip Code- Usually obtained from a user registration with digital media channels or services.

Polygon - Some data services can resolve locations to physical buildings and their shapes. This is superior to latitude/longitude because these services can typically indicate, for example, within a polygon (i.e. shopping mall building) in which the consumer is currently located, the actual store the consumer is in.

Location Data Collection

When we are targeting today’s consumer, it is imperative that our media dollars are reaching our core audience.  But how do we ensure that we are reaching the right audience at the right time?  Mobile app and web user activity accounts for some of the most sought-after data. In the data acquisition process, there are several different data sources including 1st party compared to 3rd party, and web compared to app. Each data source varies both in data quality and applicable use cases. 

First party Location Data is collected in various ways, including from the device itself (via Operating System location services), from the user directly (via user registration information), or by translating other 1st party data into location data, (such as converting an IP address into location data).

Third party Location Data is collected by a 3rd party data provider, and made available for purchase for a publisher or advertiser’s use. Third party data relies on a publisher or platform to use identifiers (e.g., Ad ID, email address, cookie, etc.) to link with 3rd party location data, and then take advantage of the 3rd party location data directly to enhance inventory.   

Mobile location data quality is driven by a number of factors, outlined below, fueling media to be highly personalized, timely, and targeted to its audience.

I.  Recency refers to the time between collection of the location data from the mobile app or website and the passing of that data to ad platforms.

 II. Accuracy refers to the mobile user’s true real-time location at the time of an ad call relative to the location passed from the publisher to ad platforms.  

 III.  Precision refers to the level of granularity for a particular piece of location data. For example, a latitude and longitude comprised of two decimal points can pinpoint a mobile user’s location to within approximately one kilometer.


Imagine this:  You are passing a billboard, or walking past a street sign, or in the immediate proximity of a store (where your product message is being communicated and/or your product is available for sale) – and just at this time, your message is delivered to your target audience reinforcing your product message.  

Geo-fences are virtual fences that use GPS, WiFi, and other technologies to set triggers or collect data when customers/employees enter them. In order to identify a user in a geo-fenced area, it is often required that the targeted user be targeted on a mobile app with location services turned on, or triggered by an event like a geo-tagged post on a platform such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Geo-fences are generally set on a radius level, but can also be drilled down more specifically to dimensions such as square or meter quadrants (ex. 4ft. x 4ft) or user defined parameters (i.e. using social check-ins).

Geo-fences are typically used to hone in on a specific location, such as a retail chain or brick and mortar location, to either target or measure in-store traffic. Imagine that you just ran a cinema spot. Now imagine that you can deliver your digital message to that same person who was just exposed to your cinema ad.

Location Behavior Patterns

Imagine this:  Your target audience is primarily comprised of young moms who are always on the go.  Now you can ensure that your message reaches mom in a moment of receptivity and when the message is highly relevant, and timely, such as within proximity of one of your retail partners. 

To work effectively, location-based marketing requires verifying audiences properly and with the right context. To understand how to market to customers, it’s important to look at their behaviors and preferences, especially where they are in their shopper journey. Thanks to mobile, advertisers can now get an understanding of consumers based on the places they visit in real time. Location acts as the “cookie” of the real world, and companies can use mobile-location data to target consumers and measure success, constantly refining and optimizing campaigns with daily data insights.  For example, an ad experience near a toy store or grocery store is different from what customers would expect at home on an entertainment app.


Imagine this:  Your target customer is visiting a big box store.  While in the store, your product message is delivered to their smartphone.  You can now reach and engage with your potential customer at point of sale. 

How do we do this? When placed in a store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them media such as ads, coupons, or supplementary product information. They can also be used as point-of-sale systems and to collect information on those consumers — particularly how consumers maneuver through stores. In recent years, beacon data has been able to verify lifts in in-store visits as a result of exposure to media. In addition to targeting consumers on a hyperlocal level, data gathered by beacons can also be collected and repurposed to target outside of a retail or storefront location.  It should be acknowledged that beacons have yet to reach wide distribution.

Location Based Measurement

Offline Location Data & Attribution

Imagine This:  You are running a cross platform media campaign, inclusive of digital.  Through media tracking, you can now ensure that your digital efforts are directly contributing and responsible for driving traffic lift at retail.  

Mobile geo-targeting and geo-fencing has created a solution for the increasing demand for offline attribution (foot traffic) measurement, and has even been regarded as a key performance indicator in digital media strategies. One of the newer uses of location data in the advertising ecosystem is measuring the efficacy of an advertising campaign in driving foot traffic to a retail location.

How does it work?   To track a retail visit, a location pixel (a piece of coding) is implemented to the media tracking. A prospective shopper is served an ad impression in order to match the user to their device ID. Once a shopper enters the designated location or geo-fence, the mobile partner connects the shopper to their location via 1:1 device match using WiFi, GPS, or Bluetooth Measurement. This can only be captured when mobile applications remain open and within a 14 day “lookback window” from the served impression.

Sample Data Flow:

 Creative Implications

Imagine this:  You run a digital campaign that not only reaches your core audience, with a high propensity to buy, but you can now deliver ad copy that drives the target consumer to a local store where product is available for purchase. This gives you the power to localize your national campaign.

Recency, accuracy, and precision are factors that can not only be channeled into targeting and data analysis, but can also be used to dictate creative messaging. This is what’s often described as dynamic creative, or DCO (dynamic creative optimization). Dynamic creative allows advertisers to serve a message based on an attribute or behavior (such as location) to dictate creative versioning in an automated manner.

By serving dynamic creative, brands can appear highly in-tune and relevant with their audience by leveraging real time data. Brands may also feature location proximity within the creative itself by dynamically pulling in the distance between the user’s device and the retail location. For example, a major shopping mall chain may feature the name of the mall location within the closest proximity to the targeted user and include copy that includes the exact mileage to the location. 

Below are additional features that can be displayed in dynamic creative as a result of location based targeting:


To implement a local marketing campaign, explore all of your options and look to build a plan with a full media mix that leverages the cross-screen media behaviors of today’s consumers. 

Guidelines for success:

·         Carefully consider your business goals, campaign objectives, existing creative assets and competition before determining your approach

·         Analyze retail distribution to identify the most important regions and markets for your brand

·         Understand the media usage habits of your best prospects

o   Moving beyond demographics helps to minimize waste in targeting

·         Isolate the media vehicles with the best targeting, relevant content and efficient costs 

·         Work with an experienced agency, with the right research tools, to develop detailed plans with established performance metrics, targeting, location factors and costs clearly defined

·         Track sales and media performance, course correct for optimal results. 


Example Applications in the Real World

In an effort to drive your product at retail today, marketing dollars must work harder, smarter, and often within a tighter window of time.  It is more important than ever to build a media mix that leverages data and delivers your product message to the right person, at the right time.   With today’s splintered attentions, often fragmented distribution, and high retail buyer expectation, it is important to put your money where your market is. 


Blue Plate Media Services is a trusted industry resource and leading, cross platform media strategy, planning and buying agency, specializing in reaching and engaging with Kids, Moms and Families.  Celebrating its 13 year affinity partnership with Toy Association, and deeply rooted in consumer data and media research, Blue Plate Media represents many leading brands, and serves as launch partner in penetrating the North American market(s), helping mid-tier and global brands become bigger brands.   For information on Blue Plate Media Services, contact David Becker, President, dbecker@blueplatemedia.net, 908-918-0202 ext. 14 or visit www.blueplatemedia.net.


Excerpt from BLUE NOTES April 2017

Blue Notes is a breezy monthly newsletter for Blue Plate Media clients, colleagues, youth marketers and members of TIA and sister industries. 

Each month we provide an at-a-glance look at TV Ratings,  Digital Trends, and interesting media nuggets surrounding today's kids, moms and families.

The Power of a Pixel: Pixel Basics

All marketers want to know the impact of their ads on site activity, sales and customer acquisition. In order to obtain these points of detailed site analytics data, marketers implement pixels, also known as tags. Pixels are pieces of code that are inserted into a consumer's browser in a variety of circumstances and enable a marketer to track behavioral attributes both on site and across the web.

What is a pixel?

A pixel is an invisible "tag" or piece of code that resides on Web pages which, when visited by a consumer, counts the volume and specific actions surrounding the visit.  Pixels often work in conjunction with cookies, recording when a particular computer visits a specific page.  Pixels can be vital for measuring campaign performance, tracking conversion events, and gleaning audience insights. Pixels are certainly not mandatory, however they do add value when building a robust site and media campaign to support your product.

There are three primary categories of pixels defined by their objective: Conversion, Optimization, and Data collection.  A Conversion pixel captures conversion events or an action that take place on a site that offers a sale or purchase. The conversion pixel is installed on the page where the marketing goal is achieved (e.g. successful purchase, form, landing page). An optimization pixel is installed across an entire site and used to better identify ideal targets in prospecting and site-retargeting campaigns. These tags pass back data from the site to publishers to help enhance their media campaigns. A data collection pixel allows data collection companies to anonymously identify and classify web page visitors into various categories, often for resale. These are typically associated with revenue sharing partnerships.

What are the benefits for placing a pixel?

Embedding pixels onto a site allows for digital media campaign tracking, retargeting, audience insights and campaign optimization to drive the best results using informed insights. Pixels serve as the basis for proper attribution based on ad impressions and clicks, therefore enabling marketers to determine which channels deliver the most success for their campaign.

What are the potential downsides?

Pixels may slow down page loads, hindering the user experience. Pixels that aren't optimized or implemented correctly may be inaccurate and skew results.

To receive Blue Plate Media's point of view on  whether pixels should be placed on your site, and which types, please reach out to schedule a consultation. 


Nielsen Season-to-Date Ratings

Overall Kids TV usage is down 9% across the Kid Day from Mo-S 6am-9pm across all Kids age groups Using TV.  Season-to-date ratings are down significantly across the kids targeted cable networks

Top Rated Networks (in rank order):


  • Nickelodeon

  • Disney Jr.

  • Nick Jr

  • Disney Channel


  • Nickelodeon

  • Disney Channel

  • Cartoon Network

  • Disney XD

Largest Audience Declines (in order of decrease):


  • Disney XD
  • Boomerang.
  • Disney Channel
  • Discovery Family


  • Disney XD
  • Disney Channel
  • Discovery Family
  • Cartoon Network
Nieslen Top 10 Kids Programs.jpg


Email dvannucci@blueplatemedia.net if you would like to be added to future mailings of BLUE NOTES.