Local advertisers can reach broad audiences and tell meaningful stories when they buy ad time on local TV. One of the most popular segments is local news. While you may have many customers that seek out these spots, there’s always the opportunity to expand. In this post, we’re serving up ideas for prospecting for local news advertisers.


What Does the Data Say About Local News?

According to Pew Research, 2020 saw a jump in late night and local news viewers compared to 2019. 2020 is certainly an outlier year in many respects, considering a worldwide pandemic and that it was an election year. 

As with most years that feature major elections, local TV station revenue increased, with over-the-air revenue totaling $18.4 billion, an 8% increase over 2019. Political advertising for local TV accounted for over $2 billion of this pie. 

Another key factor in the increase in revenue for 2020 is that the number of hours dedicated to local TV news increased to 6.2 hours, from 5.9 in 2019. 

Pew’s estimate for 2021 is lower, with a rebound in 2022, as it’s a midterm election year. 

This increase in viewership and spending correlates to the fact that most Americans get their news from local TV than from cable, newspapers and national network TV.

These numbers indicate ripe opportunities for your advertisers. There’s also something else about local news that brings in audiences — trust.

People Trust Local News

A new survey found that younger Americans trust local news more than any other outlet. That poll included those aged 18 to 29, which is an attractive demographic for many advertisers that believe they can only target them through digital advertising. This revelation can be a powerful response to advertisers that don’t think local news ads would reach millennials and Gen Z. 

Network news and news-only stations can be polarizing. In the minds of the population, local news seems to be more unbiased. It is simply the news — not commentary or opinion. A survey found that Americans trust local news over national, finding that local journalists appeared more caring, trustworthy and neutral. 

So, the equation now looks like wide viewership + easy access + trust = opportunity!

Considerations for Prospecting Local News Advertisers

Now that you have the stats, you have your elevator pitch about why advertisers should consider local news spots. However, they won’t be the perfect fit for everyone. Here are some prospecting tips:

  • Reach out to advertisers that strive to build trust with customers, such as health care organizations, financial institutions, colleges and universities, insurance companies and law firms. Be sure to reiterate the vast demographics they can reach, and encourage them to develop genuine ads, not gimmicky ones.
  • Explain that engagement and recall may be better during local news programming. When people take the time to tune in to the news, they are seeking information, not entertainment. Thus, they may be less apt to ignore the commercials in between.
  • Pitch the importance of brand awareness for new companies. Airing a TV spot during the local news could be the way into consumer homes. If a new business wants to increase awareness and credibility, these spots could deliver that recognition.
  • Recommend an integrated media plan that includes local news spots and digital advertising. Linear and digital are excellent complements to one another. You have great reach with TV and more targeted reach with digital. Combining them with a strong message or call to action (CTA) paves the way for positive outcomes for your advertisers. 
  • Remind them of the “big-screen” exposure. One caveat to digital advertising is that most people experience it on small devices. There can be disruptions on the device as well as other environmental ones. The big screen of TV undoubtedly has more impact on the senses, with vivid HD imagery and high-quality sound. 

Local News Should Be High-Demand for Advertisers

Prospecting for advertisers that could benefit from local news advertising means pulling from a large bucket. Focusing on trust-centric advertisers that hope to spread awareness to a large demographic can be fruitful. For more great tips on prospecting, read our post on how to make a plan