National advertisers who limit their media placements to national outlets may be missing the boat. Recent data based on a review of 200 billion visits from Q1 2012 – Q1 2013 by Adobe Digital Index reveal some startling statistics about the growth, national reach, and engagement of a local newspaper or TV station compared with newspapers and TV stations with a national audience.

Local media is attracting national audiences

Nearly 35% of all traffic to a local media site is accessed by visitors outside of the state.  Readers access local content directly (meaning they type in the URL or click on an e-mail link) 40% of the time, whereas national media sites only receive 35% of their readers through direct access. We attribute this difference to the large amount of affiliate traffic national sites receive from news aggregators, bloggers, and other affiliate sources, but local media may be creating a home court advantage with its content connecting consumers inside and outside of the state to the local community.

local vs. national media referrer type

Local channels are also more reliant upon social, which is producing 6% of traffic compared with 4% for national sites.

Local media is more engaging

Readers are visiting local sites just over 1 time per week and are spending 11 minutes per session. National media consumers visit less than once a week and spend 9.4 minutes per session. This means that on average, consumers visit local sites 50% more each week, spend 1.7 more minutes per visit, and view more pages per visit as compared with National.

local engagement

A targeted audience is key

Today’s competitive media landscape makes it more important than ever for marketers to focus efforts on highly engaged audiences.  While reach may be smaller with a local outlet, visits are increasing faster than national, it is more engaging, and has a greater connection with social channels.

Ultimately, media buyers will need to connect with audiences on a local and national level. National media provides the reach and access to a broad range of consumers and the opportunity to increase brand awareness. Local media, which may be more cost effective, provides a more engaged audience and enables advertisers to personalize creative assets.

With local media’s reliance on social traffic, it provides a perfect opportunity for marketers to capture an engaged audience locally for its products, and provide access for social viral reach. This advertising can serve as a way to give products a more local focus to the national masses, which could help harness a targeted audience to produce higher click-through rates to sell product.

Do you find yourself more engaged with local stories on social networks? Are you checking your hometown news from a location out-of-state?

Follow me, Joe Martin, on Twitter @joedmarti for further insights into the media and entertainment industry.