Advertising is an eyesore. Sao Paulo, Brazil, the world’s 7th largest city with a population of over 12 million, embarked on a policy of billboard free zones in 2006, and according to Good Cities, the masses are happy without the “visual pollution”. Billboards notwithstanding, local advertising – TV and radio commercials, newspaper ads, online banner ads and Google Adwords – elicit the same consumer aversion. Local advertising is bland simply because the budgets are too small to produce creative quality content that consumers expect from national advertisers.
The perception of the commercial as propaganda and visual pollution has opened doors to the new advertising vehicles of daily deals, checkins, and pole positions on review sites like Yelp. Merchants understand they can draw in customers with financial incentives or social buzz.
From the Good Cities article:
“Companies had to find their own ways to promote products and brands on the streets,” Lalai Luna, co-founder of ad agency Remix,told the Financial Times last year. “São Paulo started having a lot more guerilla marketing [unconventional strategies, such as public stunts and viral campaigns] and it gave a lot of power to online and social media campaigns as a new way to interact with people.”
Many in Sao Paulo couldn’t predict how lovely their city is without billboards, it’s a matter of time when it becomes obvious that new local advertising models won’t be banner ads. Banner ad mentality is a big reason why Patch.com’s revenues underperform. A more forward looking business model for Patch and other hyperlocal media would be to act as facilitators for delivering social media marketing campaigns to the local business community. Like a social media marketing agency.