2024 NC Ad Buyer’s Report

"2024 NC Ad Buyer’s Report" table of contents

  1. 2024 NC Ad Buyer’s Report
  2. Planning: Go inside the budget process
  3. Growth: Trending digital local ad products
  4. Buyers: Advertisers unfiltered, by budget
  5. Sales: What opens the door, right now
  6. Scale: How big do you need to be?
  7. Paywalls: The elephant in the deal room
  8. Influencers: Wild West of opportunity
  9. Takeaways for media companies
  10. Limitations and Directions for Future Research/Methods

By Ted Williams
Research Consultant
UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media
Hussman School of Journalism and Media

27% of North Carolina advertising buyers surveyed plan to allocate more of their media spend with local media companies in 2024. News executives and entrepreneurs who understand this opportunity will make more money.

Big picture

Nearly one-third of local newspapers have disappeared since 2005, and analysts say it’s accelerating. The financial state of local media is in such disrepair that a group of philanthropies recently announced a $500 million commitment to local journalism.

The story of local media advertising has been one of decline – as large digital platforms such as Meta and Google offered cheap targeting and scale – and one of disinvestment, as publishers reallocated resources to grow new revenue streams. Newsrooms have hired development officers to write grants, created news products designed to drive loyalty and reader revenue and focused on content that drives those revenue streams. But the sale of ads, marketing services or sponsorships remain an important part of the revenue mix.

It leads to a question: How do local ad buyers make decisions, and what do they plan on buying more of in the upcoming year?

Research

Over the last 3 months, our team at the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media surveyed 92 advertising buyers across North Carolina and conducted 15 in-depth interviews. These decision-makers range from small business owners spending under $25,000 to large ad agencies and Chief Marketing Officers spending over $10 million.

The goal with this research project was to learn how N.C. ad buyers make media buying decisions. Surfacing this hard-to-gather intelligence will help inform local media operators and executives looking to allocate resources in 2024 for commercial success.

Highlights

  • Investments in local advertising sales could generate double digital revenue growth in 2024. 27% of ad buyers plan to spend more of their budget with local media companies. (67% said same and 6% said less)
  • Teams that understand annual planning cycles will unlock revenue. 31% of ad buyers allocate their advertising budget annually.
  • Content-led pitches grounded in audience insights will close more deals. It’s especially true with digital storytelling as 55% of ad buyers plan to allocate more of their budget to digital and social.
  • Publishers can continue to count on flagship newsletters and email products to generate revenue growth. 30% of ad buyers plan to buy more email/newsletter advertising from local media.
  • Publishers with paywalls need to address the benefits of advertising behind a paywall, or it’ll be hard to land deals. If a local media company has a paywall, 52% of ad buyers will buy less advertising.
  • Niche publishers who know their audience well only need an audience of a few thousand to monetize with large media buyers.
  • Professional influencers will have a big 2024 for revenue growth. 43% of ad buyers plan to allocate more of their budget to local influencers.

Glossary: Ad buying lingo

  • Local media company: One that publishes local content that serves a geographic community, city, or NC, whether owned locally or not.
  • Out-of-home: Advertising seen outside the home such as billboards, vehicle wraps (ex, bus wraps), and other (ex, airport baggage claim signage).
  • Sponsored content: Content created by advertisers (ex, home buying tips article from a real estate agency). This is frequently used interchangeably with “content marketing.”
  • Programmatic advertising: Media buying automated through technology (ex, a hotel using data and technology to serve display advertising to travel seekers).
  • ROI: Return on investment.
  • ROAS: Return on ad spend.
  • Ad creative: Visual or text from the advertiser (ex, print ad for a magazine, video ad for television, or audio for radio).
  • Performance advertising: A form of advertising in which an ad buyer can measure specific outcomes (ex, hotel buying measurable advertising to drive booking conversion).
  • Brand advertising: A form of advertising that’s designed to build a relationship or connection with a customer, rather than drive specific measurable outcomes (ex, a hotel sponsors a sports team).
  • Owned and operated: Channels or assets that a media company has control over (such as their website and their Facebook page or Instagram handle).
  • Attribution: The ability to identify specific advertising that led to a sale.
  • Share of voice: The measurement of a brand’s advertising to the total advertising on a specific channel. (such as, if a brand is the only advertiser in a newsletter, it has 100% share of voice).

Next chapter

Back to Buyers Unfiltered

"2024 NC Ad Buyer’s Report" table of contents

  1. 2024 NC Ad Buyer’s Report
  2. Planning: Go inside the budget process
  3. Growth: Trending digital local ad products
  4. Buyers: Advertisers unfiltered, by budget
  5. Sales: What opens the door, right now
  6. Scale: How big do you need to be?
  7. Paywalls: The elephant in the deal room
  8. Influencers: Wild West of opportunity
  9. Takeaways for media companies
  10. Limitations and Directions for Future Research/Methods