2 Ways to Include Online Display in Your Local Media Campaign

local media online strategy

When to purchase online inventory directly from a publisher and when to include an ad network.

Internet usage continues to grow and according to recent media usage reports, Internet is the second most used medium, behind Television for Persons 18+.  So, it comes as no surprise that online display advertising is an important part of the local media mix.

Online advertising is a little trickier than other traditional mediums, because you don’t have a handful of vendors to choose from.  Purchasing an online campaign can be a bit overwhelming for a local advertiser, because there are so many potential options.

Before you place your next online schedule, you must first consider the 2 most common ways to purchase online inventory and decide which strategy will meet your local media campaign goals.

Publisher Direct

A publisher is a single, content-focused website that is ad-supported.  This can range from national websites, such as ESPN and The New York Times, or local media outlets.

If your goal is to build awareness or affiliate your brand with a particular entity, a publisher direct campaign may be a good fit.  This strategy will allow you to purchase premium placement and special ad units, but may have limited targeting options. The cost of purchasing inventory directly from the publisher will also be more expensive than purchasing through a third-party ad network, since you have guaranteed placement.

Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages to purchasing online inventory directly from the publisher:


  1. Premium content and placement
  2. Contextually relevant placement, by purchasing specific sections of the site, such as weather or sports
  3. Integrated sponsorships available
  4. Full control and transparency of ad placement
  5. Ability to customize creative to fit content


  1. Higher cost and Cost Per Thousand (CPM)
  2. Limited reach
  3. Less control of frequency
  4. Fewer targeting options
Online Ad Network

Advertising networks are intermediaries between websites and advertisers who want to run advertising on those sites.  Ad networks provide content aggregation and technology for targeting users across hundreds of websites, with a single buy.

If your campaign is intended to reach a specific demographic or someone in the market for your product or service, living in a defined geography, a network schedule may be a better fit than purchasing directly from the publisher.

The CPMs for the inventory will be much less, because the campaign will run on available inventory across thousands of websites, and is not guaranteed to include the homepage of a premium site.

Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages to purchasing online inventory from an ad network:


  1. Buy can deliver substantial reach
  2. Same consumers as on premium sites
  3. Lower cost and CPMs
  4. Strong targeting options to increase campaign efficiency
  5. Optimization technology adjusts site placement, to maintain high campaign performance


  1. No guaranteed site placement
  2. Uneven site quality
  3. Roadblocks/Takeovers or special sponsorships are not available

How are you using online display in your local media mix?

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

Shelby Nichols

About Shelby Nichols

Shelby is Director of Digital Media at Sheehy, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. With close to 15 years in the industry she has planned and purchased a wide range of media and has a passion for all things digital.

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