How does localized broadcast TV advertising work?

January 3, 2024

On July 1, 1941, watchmaker Bulova made history with the first television commercial, a 10-second spot broadcast before a baseball game. It was a groundbreaking moment, proving the undeniable reach and impact of broadcast advertising. But today, businesses, broadcasters, and advertisers are taking a more nuanced approach — one that includes localized broadcast advertising as well as IP-based media.

What is localized broadcast advertising?

Localized broadcast advertising uses traditional broadcast channels, like cable television and satellite, but targets a smaller, more regional audience. With national advertising, on the other hand, the same ads are broadcast throughout the country, regardless of region. Super Bowl ads are a good example of national advertising.

When it comes to localized advertising, the most common example used to be businesses in the area. For example, you might see an ad for a nearby car dealership or law firm. However, with increased targeting abilities that leverage demographic and viewership data, more and more businesses are jumping on local TV advertising as a way to connect with specific audiences.

Broadcast vs. over-the-top (OTT) media

There’s another important distinction in the discussion about personalized advertising: how is broadcast different from OTT media?

  • Broadcast media relies on signals sent over airwaves or through cable and satellite infrastructure to transmit content to a wide audience. It typically relies on static advertising formats integrated into scheduled programming.

  • Over-the-top media is delivered directly over the internet via streaming services, without the need for cable or satellite subscriptions. It includes subscription-based services that don’t have ads, but the most important models in terms of advertising are free ad-supported television (FAST) and live event distribution.

Both broadcast and OTT can be localized, although OTT typically has greater personalization capabilities because of the data available. Both types of media also have similar types of ad formats.

Types of local broadcast advertisements

National advertising is able to use formats such as product placement, which appear within the content or show itself, and long-form content like infomercials. While localized broadcast advertising is more limited, it is also more targeted and can have a better return on investment (ROI). There are two main formats used for local TV advertising, and both types have similar counterparts in OTT.


Traditional commercials are one of the oldest and most well-known forms of broadcast advertising. They've been around since the early days of television, but as digital broadcasting replaced analog in the late 2000s, commercials became more flexible and targeted. There are even more options for OTT, which can run pre-roll ads before the content begins and post-roll ads after the content, in addition to traditional commercials that appear in the middle.


With sponsorships, brands pay to insert a mention of their business into a TV program, event, or segment. For example, a popular option for local cable TV advertising is for a business to sponsor a weather forecast or a segment on a news program. Sponsorships that include a name and logo on the field or boards of a sporting event are popular at both the national and local levels and available for both broadcast and OTT advertising.

The technology behind sports sponsorships is also becoming more sophisticated. The NHL recently rolled out “digitally enhanced dasherboards,” which allow broadcasters to digitally replace the ads that appear on the boards during a game. And soccer federation FIFA allows “3D CamCarpets” on some fields that project 3D images next to the goal posts. OTT sponsorships are similarly customizable, using graphical overlays that can even be clickable on certain devices.

Benefits of localized broadcast advertising

Advertising on cable TV is a time-tested strategy. But when you add in localization, you get even more benefits.

Reach new markets

National advertising is great for general brand awareness, but many businesses want to expand to specific audiences who may not know about their product or service. For that, you need localized advertising, which can ensure you reach a particular demographic. On OTT channels, you can even target by age and interests.

Boost credibility

No matter where they live, people are more likely to trust businesses that demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to their needs. Done right, localized broadcast advertising can make audiences feel seen and understood. Sponsoring local events or featuring local faces in advertisements fosters a strong customer connection that builds trust and brand loyalty.

Increase ROI

Localized broadcast advertising can be targeted more than ever before, even down to specific communities. This allows businesses to customize messages to the unique characteristics and interests of target demographics and establish a connection with the local audience. Relevant ads delivered at the right time improve engagement and help increase the ROI of a campaign.

Challenges of localization and how to solve them

While localized broadcast advertising has many benefits, it isn't without challenges. However, advances in technology can help solve many of these issues.

Cost considerations

Creating high-quality advertisements and securing airtime on popular TV channels can be financially demanding. Localized advertising requires a strategic approach to balance the costs against the ads’ potential reach and impact. Leveraging efficient ad-buying strategies, like programmatic TV advertising, can help mitigate some of the higher costs.

Regional differences

Advertising regulations can vary from region to region, including rules related to content, language, and imagery. An expert partner can help you navigate and adhere to local regulatory requirements to avoid legal issues and ensure compliance. In addition, localizing your messaging while maintaining a cohesive brand identity can be a challenge. You’ll need a strong brand image to act as a foundation.

Logistical issues

Coordinating the production and distribution of localized broadcast advertising across multiple regions can be logistically challenging. Timely delivery and coordination with local media outlets are crucial to ensuring that ads are broadcast at the right times and on the right channels. Programmatic technology, like ad signaling, can help automate these processes and synchronize the moving parts.

Media fragmentation

There’s no question that the landscape of TV viewership is evolving. Streaming services and on-demand content are on the rise. Advertisers must adapt to changing viewer habits, carefully selecting the most relevant channels to maximize reach and exploring creative ways to capture and retain audience attention. From interactive banner ads to hyper-personalized content, OTT advertising is poised to capitalize on these viewership changes.

Beyond localized broadcast advertising with LTN Arc

While local TV advertising remains essential, brands, broadcasters, and advertisers are discovering that monetizing their content requires new strategies. Reaching viewers with personalized content on all channels, including in apps and on FAST platforms, is more important than ever, but doing it efficiently remains a challenge, especially for live events.

Rather than making costly investments in software and infrastructure, many businesses are turning to partners who already have capabilities like live event versioning and distribution. With our global IP network, proprietary technology, and fully managed technical operations center (TOC), LTN Arc handles large-scale ingest, aggregation, feed decoration, and distribution.

LTN Arc can handle hundreds of feeds at once, delivering not only ultra-personalized ads, but also pre- and post-game content, localized graphical overlays, and more. If you’re ready to go beyond localized broadcast advertising, contact us for a demo today.