LSA|14: Neg Norton Debuts ‘Last Mile Advertising’ and LSA’s Plans for 2014

Neg Norton, LSA’s president, kicked off his remarks by introducing a new way of thinking about the local universe and LSA’s three strategic initiatives to help the industry achieve success within it.

Neg began his presentation by playing a video highlighting the various ways that consumers today are traveling down the path to purchase. Take a look.

As the video shows, the proliferation of digital and mobile platforms has introduced a myriad of new offerings and technologies that are influencing consumers’ purchasing choices at every conceivable opportunity. As a result, the path to purchase is no longer uniform: each person navigating the local space is doing so in different ways, depending on their unique habits and specific circumstances.

Neg discussed LSA’s efforts over the past year to better understand what sets local apart and makes it unique. He discussed interviews that LSA conducted with a variety of local industry players, which found that many believed local wasn’t clearly defined in the marketplace – even though it could and should be.

The interviews laid the groundwork for the creation of a new understanding of local, Neg said. Just as the telecom industry used the term “Last Mile” to define the final leg in communications connectivity to consumers, local advertising could be described as reaching consumers in their “Last Mile” on the path to purchase – right before they call, click or visit a business.

Neg said that LSA narrowed in and selected the term “Last Mile Advertising” to describe the local universe. He said that Last Mile Advertising describes locally targeted ads or messages delivered close to the path to purchase that help facilitate consumer actions.

Neg displayed the above graphic that highlights the three key components of the Last Mile universe:

  • Seek: Ads targeting consumers who are ready-to-buy, but are actively looking for a specific business that can sell them the product and service they want to purchase.
  • Discover: Ads targeted to consumers who are informed about a business and its products or services that they didn’t necessarily know was available and/or didn’t plan on purchasing.
  • Consider: Ads targeted to consumers who are considering a purchase, but want more information on the business, product or service they’ve identified.

Neg noted that the consumers could enter the Last Mile through any three of these segments and move between one or both of the other segments before taking an action, or simply move through just one of the segments before making a purchase. He said that Last Mile today is very fluid and unpredictable.

Neg said that he believes that Last Mile Advertising sets LSA and its members apart from the greater advertising space. He said that with the Association’s identity defined around Last Mile, LSA had introduced three supporting programs:

  • Ad to Action Awards: LSA launched a new awards competition designed to foster new ideas and stimulate thinking to highlight the best products that drive calls, clicks and store visits. More than 40 companies submitted 60 submissions to the competition, which were judged by a panel of local advertising experts. The winners of these innovative solutions will be announced in a ceremony tomorrow, after which they will attend a private luncheon with Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak.
  • Think Tank Events: LSA introduced a new thought-leadership program designed to enable better collaboration and partnership in the industry. Think Tank events will bring together local leaders in a social environment to solve problems and discuss new ideas and trends in local. The first Think Tank was held in New York earlier this year and received great feedback. Future Think Tank events are planned for Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Metrics that Matter Database: LSA debuted a new media performance database that is the only tool of its kind to leverage real campaign results across a broad swath of local media. The database is initially focused on mobile display, mobile search and print Yellow Pages results, with plans to expand to Internet Yellow Pages, search engine marketing and social media results in the near future. Neg said that the database will serve as an invaluable tool for planning local advertising spends and will be available to any member that participates through the contribution of its own data.

Neg said that LSA is kicking off 2014 with more than 300 members, including 35 new members who have joined the Association within the past year alone. Neg also congratulated LSA’s newly elected Board officers for the 2014-15 term, which includes three new Board members who represent the increased diversity of local industry players.

In closing, Neg shared his observations on key considerations that local advertising players should take into account in the coming year:

  • Local advertising providers have an unprecedented opportunity. Local represents some 80% of total commerce in the U.S. He said that the industry should not underestimate our potential and the central role it has in the marketplace.
  • Success hinges on the local industry’s ability to deliver a seamless customer experience. Not one on our terms dictated by product silos or platform
  • We are in a “prove-it” world. Measurement, ROI and analytics are all integral to the selling process.
  • Leadership. Most business failures are attributable to leadership. Digital literacy amongst executive ranks is critical in local.
  • Don’t forget to have some fun at work and recognize the importance of good relationships with our colleagues in the local space.

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