The Wirral Wide Web - think regional online
I bet you think you know what WWW stands for, don't you? These days however, there's no reason why it can't stand for Wirral Wide Web or Wolverhampton Wide Web, writes Rob Clilverd, managing director of media agency BLM Clilverd.
Online is as much a part of the regional toolbox as print, television and radio.
The internet is global but it can also allow for an amazing degree of targeting in message delivery. Quite apart from the obvious solution of advertising on local sites, you can get as specific as individual postcodes, using Google keyword search.
Here are two examples. When promoting Be Broadband, a 24MB service available in London and a few other cities, the search engine marketing was limited to those areas where Be's service was available.
For Domino's Pizza search is used to ensure that the Domino's site only appears through Google to customers who have a Domino's branch nearby. Why pay to reach people who can't be customers?
Of course, online activity does differ from region to region -- UK government statistics show that areas like the South West, South East and the East Midlands have more internet users than Scotland, Wales or Yorkshire.
Age makes a difference too although the cliché about internet users being college age males is dead as a dodo.
But even in the poorer UK regions there are pockets of affluence -- online media gives you a fantastic way of getting straight to people with spending power, far more accurately than advertising in the local paper. And local online media is blossoming - the Wakefield Express has a pioneering online service that has even launched its own local blog hosting provider.
There are three main types of product that people turn to the local media for -- cars, property and jobs.
The car market in particular is far more efficient online -- one in three of all UK internet users researched a car online in the past three months and 44% of people looking to buy a new car used the internet as their primary source of information.
In contrast, only 10% of car buyers used the local paper for research. That means that local advertising previously placed in print and on radio is now becoming far more effective online.
It sounds obvious doesn't it? Yet the problem is some advertisers aren't ready to listen.
Some people are just too London-obsessed to take regional communications seriously. Others just don't get online. But how can anyone quibble with greater efficiency and more results for less money?
Online is cheaper, targeted, measurable and traceable. You only pay for keywords in your target neighbourhoods. Plus you pay for what you get on cost per click -- you can't do that with a print ad.
Clients have to recognise that there is a changing world out there -- one that coincidentally means clients need to buy less media. We've been able to save clients 25% of their media spend by moving them online while keeping sales levels the same. And even the most technophobic can't argue with that.
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