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Most Brands and Retailers are Wasting Ad Spend on National-Local Cannibalization 

Franchise marketing requires a delicate balance of local and national advertising strategies. But many franchise organizations suffer from a lack of synchronization when it comes to managing those two avenues. At worst, this leads to a brand’s local and national ad content competing with itself, driving down the efficacy of marketing efforts across the board. When campaigns come from both corporate and a smattering of location owners, it can be hard to keep track of who’s saying what. 

If members of the same franchise organization bid on the same advertising components — whether it’s keywords, locations, clicks or impressions — that crowded demand drives the price up, negatively affecting the entire franchise ecosystem no matter who wins the auction. And if franchisees are running ads too similar to corporate, those messages will compete with each other when people search for content related to the overlapping campaigns.  

For franchise brands, conquering the perils of national-local cannibalization requires a fine balance of unification and separation. Streamlined oversight allows brands to comprehensively understand what types of campaigns their franchisees are running, while guardrails can be put in place to prevent competing goals. Ultimately, franchisees want to run their own successful campaigns to drive business at their stores. 

Franchise brands need to put processes in place to run brand-safe, non-competitive ads at the national and local levels that build accountability and drive business growth across the entire organization. Here’s how.

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Streamline Local Advertising to Identify Inefficiencies

Marketing operations for franchise businesses typically go a little something like this: Each franchisee owes a portion of their earnings back to corporate, where it gets pooled in an ad fund for corporate campaigns. Franchisees are also required to hit a minimum marketing spend for their own locations, running their own campaigns to promote their specific storefronts. 

With those two advertising machines running simultaneously, it’s imperative to unify efforts with streamlined visibility. How can a corporate brand prevent cannibalization when they have no idea how their franchisees are setting up their own local marketing campaigns? 

Aggregating all local marketing data in a unified source allows brands the necessary oversight to prevent competitive practices and wasted ad spend due to cannibalization. Brands need access to franchisee campaigns at a granular level to prevent keyword competition, overlapping locations, crowded search terms and competing landing pages.

For SMB franchises with as few as 50 or as many as thousands of locations, cannibalization can eat into ad spend considerably, hurting both corporate campaigns and each franchisee’s advertising efforts. Getting corporate and local marketing pursuits out of their silos is the only way to ensure best practices across the board. 

Set Parameters to Increase Accountability 

If franchisees run their local campaigns with regulated components across the board, corporate brands can implement preventative strategies to avoid cannibalization altogether. Whether this looks like preventing parties from bidding on certain keywords or carving out geo-parameters to avoid cannibalization on the local level, a clear foundation with defined rules sets the stage for complementary national-local advertising. 

For instance, branded keywords can be bid on at the national level only, keeping franchisees out of the fray and allowing corporate to get fair prices that will benefit the entire organization. Brands shouldn’t let their franchisees buy search keywords without guidance, as the fragmentation can lead to mayhem. Instead, by designating certain keywords for use at the local level, brands can get ahead of the problem by giving their franchisees useful information, valuable tools and productive limitations. 

Separating keyword strategies for local and national advertising is crucial for avoiding keyword cannibalization. But it’s not just about what gets reserved for corporate’s discretion. On the flip side, “near me” searches should be reserved for local marketing, taking potential customers directly to the landing page of their nearest storefront rather than requiring them to navigate through corporate’s site to find what they’re really looking for.With these practices in place, franchisees will feel confident that corporate isn’t thwarting or overshadowing their individual marketing efforts.

Useful limitations can keep franchisees on track by making it easy to run campaigns with predefined parameters optimized for local marketing success. Franchisees can still leverage knowledge about their communities, but it needs to be packaged in best practices that forge the necessary separation from corporate’s marketing strategies. 

With clear guidelines and regulated marketing tools that build accountability, franchisees’ participation becomes an asset rather than a liability. Democratizing advertising for franchisees is necessary for building trust within organizations and preventing the national-local cannibalization that is all too common for franchises with disparate marketing efforts. 


Alisha Vento is the Director of Customer Success at Hyperlocology. She has worked in the marketing technology space for over 10 years and has a passion for leading success teams, strengthening partnerships and driving results.

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