If you are a quick-service restaurant brand marketer and you’re doing battle in 2024 without a hyperfocus on winning locally, your knife is not going to win this shootout. As value messages clash and competition intensifies, brands are fighting for every one of the 100 million U.S. households that visit over 200,000 quick-service restaurants every week. Savvy marketers are seizing the opportunity to engage current and prospective customers at the local level, and are arming themselves with an arsenal of tools, data, and platforms to help.

Brand marketers have a plethora of tools at their disposal to efficiently connect with consumers on a location-specific basis; loyalty, social media scheduling, review management, real-time customer feedback, to name a few. In a recent study, 62 percent of quick serve restaurant leaders planned to devote resources to digital or location-based marketing in 2024, highest among the 15 different areas surveyed across the restaurant tech ecosystem.

However, despite these advancements there remains a glaring gap in the local marketing landscape: the disconnect between systemwide advertising efforts and local advertising. And this disconnect extends well beyond the largest national advertisers—it impacts regional brands operating in a handful of markets with a mere $1 million marketing budget (or less). This is not a new phenomenon—some of the root causes of these issues were covered by this publication over 4 years ago.

While brand marketers deploy sophisticated brand messages and targeting strategies at a systemwide, regional, or DMA level, local advertising often operates in isolation or through various local media agencies, disjointed from the overarching brand strategy. This fragmented approach not only reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of local efforts, but obscures measurement of location-level ROI, ultimately impacting business results for the entire system.

Localized content receives up to 12 times the engagement of non-localized content, so why are brand marketers not more vested in enabling brand media execution to be customized and targeted locally? Unlike other facets of marketing and operations, franchisees and local owners have been left without the benefit of the sophisticated paid media tools wielded by brand marketers, exacerbating the disconnect between brand and local investments.

But the status quo is changing fast. With the rapid advancement of APIs, automation, and powerful AI, it’s no surprise the U.S. AdTech market is expected to grow at a CAGR of plus 16.1 percent through 2030. Thus the time has come for brand marketers to seize control of local advertising, lean in to local to drive more meaningful engagements and incremental sales, and align local advertising seamlessly with their overall brand strategy. By leveraging these technological innovations, brand marketers can steward local advertising by and for their franchisees with customizations for local audiences, improving ROI for both the enterprise and their franchisees.

Empowering franchise owners and local operators with the same sophisticated cross-channel media execution accessible to brand marketers within their very own local market is not just a matter of equity—it’s a strategic imperative. Multi-location advertising platforms empower brand teams to maintain creative and strategy oversight—while giving franchisees the flexibility to more easily activate brand-aligned local media that meets their business priorities—with visibility into local ROI and actionable insights that is otherwise cloudy at best.

Local activation and performance matters now more than ever. By bridging the gap between market-wide and location-level media execution, quick-service brands can unlock new avenues for growth and ensure a more cohesive and effective marketing ecosystem.

The future of restaurant marketing lies in unity—uniting brand initiatives with local relevance, uniting franchisees with brand marketers via shared technology, and connecting the utility of that technology to drive brand and business objectives. It’s time for brand marketers to rise to the challenge and lead the charge towards a more connected and impactful local marketing landscape.

Michael Morris is the co-founder of Hyperlocology. Hyperlocology enables multi-location restaurant brands to reach local audiences across the most powerful digital advertising channels, with streamlined local activation and insights for franchisees. Hyperlocology’s best-in-class technology drives local ROI, reduces costs, and ensures brand-to-local alignment of data, strategy, and messaging.

Marketing & Promotions, Outside Insights, Story, Technology