How to advertise to a local audience
by Sean Heneghan

From the early days of local newspapers to cinema ads and OOH, localisation has significantly enhanced the impact of advertising campaigns. Get it right and you’re highlighting how your brand is a key part of the community.

For example, in 2023, Scottish beer brand Tennent’s debuted a new ad with a widely used local slang, “Oooft” as the hook.

However, if you get it wrong, as Magnum did in Manchester, you can attract ridicule. The ice-cream brand took out a prominent billboard in the city’s Piccadilly Gardens with the strapline “The only thing that can make lying in Piccadilly Gardens even better”.

The backlash was instant – Piccadilly Gardens wasn’t somewhere you’d consider spending time eating ice-cream, and if you did, it certainly wouldn’t be on the ground! There was so much amusement surrounding the attempt, that the locally headquartered holiday company On The Beach even took out further ads to mock the global brand!

Ok, so as these examples prove, the first thing you have to get right with localisation is the creative. Any attempt by a national or international brand must understand the cultural differences between various markets.

The evolution of localisation

Now you’re sure on your creative messaging, let’s look at how to get your campaign out there.  As the digital era dawned, localisation found a new playground beyond regional TV, radio, print and OOH. Online advertising, with its sophisticated geo-targeting capabilities, offered unprecedented precision in reaching local audiences. This shift not only broadened the scope of localisation but also enhanced its effectiveness.

The advent of connected TV and online audio has more recently further expanded the horizons of localisation. These platforms offer unique opportunities for brands to engage with audiences in a deeply personal and localised manner. They’ve also brought with them a lower cost of entry and improved targeting as advertisers can leverage detailed audience data to deliver highly targeted, localised ads that speak directly to the viewer’s interests and location.

Online targeting

Effective localisation hinges on mastering geo-targeting and audience segmentation. The key is to utilise data to identify the target demographic and tailor the strategy accordingly, ensuring campaigns reach the most receptive audiences.

A good example of successful localisation in action is our work for Hollywood Bowl. Smart use of data helped us reach families effectively across our media mix at the right time, with the right message, and at the optimal level of frequency.

How to minimise wastage

By focusing on specific geographic areas, employing a smart data strategy, and tailoring content to local audiences, localisation also significantly reduces the likelihood of media wastage. This targeted approach ensures that ads are only seen by those most likely to be interested, thereby maximising the return on investment (ROI).


Q: What is media localisation?

A: Media localisation involves adapting advertising content to fit the cultural, linguistic, and regional specifics of a target audience, ensuring maximum relevance and engagement.

Q: How does geo-targeting work?

A: Geo-targeting uses GPS technology and IP addresses to deliver content and advertisements to users based on their geographic location.

Q: What are the benefits of localised advertising?

A: Localised advertising offers numerous benefits, including increased engagement, higher conversion rates, and reduced media wastage, by ensuring ads are directly relevant to the target audience.

February 15, 2024

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