7 reasons local ads are vital to boosting brands globally

How targeted local ads can bring your brand to the top of ‘Near Me’ searches and reach more customers

By Paul O’Donoghue, VP solution engineering, Uberall

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have been looking for information on stores and businesses ‘near me,’ and engaging with brands directly online (driving directions, website clicks, phone calls).

While some brands understand the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to online marketing – namely increased online visibility and traffic – many are less familiar with local ads, and how the combination of SEO and local ads can further raise traffic, clicks, and rankings in paid search results.

Local ads, also known as ‘Near Me’ ads or local advertisements, extend the reach of a business listing profile on online platforms with local-based results, such as Google (Maps), Facebook, or Instagram. For a fee, they highlight the profile in ‘Near Me’ search results when consumers are looking for goods and services nearby, or display it in the feed. Local ads use geo-targeting and prompt the user to call or visit your location.

Local ads present a huge opportunity for brands to capture ready-to-buy consumers who are near your physical locations, and present them with the right call to action and information needed to convert an online search into an offline sale.

Here are seven reasons why local ads can boost overall brand visibility and reputation:

1. Local ads appear in ‘near me’ searches

More than half of all Google queries today are ‘near me’ searches, but many brands haven’t noticed the shift yet. Consumers who are searching for products and services near me have specific buying intent for something they want now, or at least in the near term.

Local ads for ‘near me’ searches give brands first crack at these high-intent, ‘near me’ customers, enabling them to capture user intent and reach potential customers online, in the right moment.

With local ads, you choose where they appear within a specified distance from the target location and/or in certain regions, e.g. petrol stations can advertise cheaper fuel within a radius of 10 kilometres or burger joints can advertise their “best burgers across the city.”

2. Local ads are optimised for offline visits

The standard online ad is set up to lead a user from a search engine or website to a landing page for an online purchase, download, or registration. To optimise conversion, this is done with as few clicks as possible.

But in the case of offline conversion – where the goal is to have the user visit a shop, a branch or a restaurant – the conventional online ad doesn’t cut it. To drive online searches to offline visits, it would be better to lead the user directly to the location. This requires high-quality location pages and leveraging the high “willingness to click” on the part of the consumer.

Here, local ads bring two powerful features together: They combine paid visibility with the advantages of a local listing (such as Google My Business), turning the location profile itself into a conversion driver.

3. Local ads provide call to action to low price sensitivity and ready-to-buy consumers

‘Near Me’ searches often occur at moments when there is a pressing need for something, and a visit to a shop is highly likely. People looking for “pizza nearby” want to eat something as soon as possible and anyone asking for a “pharmacy open now” has an urgent need for medication.

Over 75 percent of local searches lead to a store visit within 24 hours and almost one in three ends with a purchase. This high conversion potential is no accident and means ‘Near Me’ Ads are highly persuasive to consumers with a heightened propensity to buy.

Local ads, especially on Google, tap into this potential by offering a phone call or directions as the call to action. With one click, consumers are ready to act immediately.

4. Out-of-sight means out-of-mind to consumers

Through paid placement, your location is the literal top dog of the ‘Near Me’ search and the majority of clicks land with you. Even if competitors are close by, if they aren’t visible online, potential customers may still not even know that they’re there. And if your company is the only one appearing in the Local Pack, your business will receive their first and full attention.

What’s more, industry research shows that only 0.78% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page, so local ads give brands a real competitive advantage.

5. Local Ads can be quick and easy to set up

If your brand has only a few locations, it’s easy to set up ads and the only requirement is that you have a location profile on the respective platform. For Google this would be Google My Business, for Facebook the Location Page, etc.

But even for multi-location brands with dozens or even hundreds of local outlets, there are technology solutions that allow big brands to place local ads with a minimal amount of time and resources spent. Rather than manually running, managing and optimising many ads on different platforms for multiple locations, brands can manage many locations from a central platform.

6. Local Ads create a powerful database for Google’s ‘Store Visits’ metric

Google has developed the ‘Store Visits’ metric to measure online to offline conversion more reliably. ‘Store Visit’ data is based on anonymised, aggregated information that generates statistics on how many users visit the store after clicking on your ads.

Once activated, this metric enables brands to measure ad clicks and assess campaign success.

7. Local Ads Kick Off Your ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience

This is the age of ‘Near Me,’ and local ads can mark the beginning of a strong ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience (NMBX). Creating a seamless and positive NMBX for your customers – from first online search to in store visit – is not only the best way to ensure consumers find you.

If you address the needs of your customers at every touchpoint along the customer journey, you can establish a sustainable brand-to-customer relationship and encourage them to return again.

Conclusion

Local ads are still a relatively new marketing tool, and many brands have yet to leverage their potential. If you do a quick search for one of your brand’s keywords (e.g. pizza, shoes, petrol, etc.) on Google Maps, you’ll hardly see any ads.

Indeed, local marketing has been largely underutilised as a method of winning customers, in part because of the previous difficulty in measuring value. However, new methods to evaluate data have meant brands can audit their local marketing performance, from whether it’s being found in online search and how it measures up against the competition, to whether businesses are converting impressions into actions.

In fact, free tools like Uberall’s ‘Near Me 360’ allow brands to measure how visible they are, review their current conversion percentages, and evaluate how those look in comparison to competitors. Armed with this information, local ads give brands a chance to get ahead of the competition and make that all-important first connection with consumers who are ready-to-buy – an opportunity today’s brands can’t afford to miss.