McLaren Greater Lansing Embraces Local Advertising During The Pandemic

McLaren Health Care Gannett
During times of crisis, advertisers want to connect with people reading local journalism.

Michigan-based healthcare company McLaren Greater Lansing used Gannett’s sponsored content offering to share critical messages during the pandemic with a more nuanced, responsive approach than it could achieve with just banner ads.

For example, the health care company noticed many patients were avoiding medical treatment for potential strokes and heart attacks, fearful of exposure to the coronavirus. So it developed content that explained how social distancing was practiced in emergency rooms. It also touted its “FastER Care,” where people can see real-time wait times for its ER.

“Our marketing and messaging have played a large role in communicating to the community the steps that we have taken to ensure safety and to convey that it is safe to seek treatment when needed,” said McLaren Greater Lansing marketing manager Linda Toomey.

McLaren Greater Lansing already used Gannett’s advertising products – dubbed LOCALiQ – before the pandemic hit. It wrote health care articles to “paint a picture of patient experience and to educate on services offered,” Toomey said. The articles were distributed to local audiences reading USA Today and the Lansing State Journal.

During the pandemic, McLaren continued to follow that mission but adapted to what people were worried about – such as seeking care for conditions not related to the coronavirus.

McLaren also works with Gannett to extract insights to make its advertising more effective.

McLaren Greater Lansing A/B tests to compare difference ad creatives and continuously monitors click-through rate to track campaign effectiveness.

The health care marketer also uses a tool that identifies trending question and search terms for its content, Toomey said.

“In the short time that we have been optimizing our content we have seen an overall increase in our average page views, unique visitors and average attention seconds,” she said.

The content outperforms USA Today benchmarks almost universally, particularly human-interest stories.

“The highest-viewed articles are those which highlight people detailing their journey,” Toomey said. “Ultimately, the more humanized the content, the better the performance.”

Working with LOCALiQ also gave McLaren Greater Lansing actionable insights. People searched for the term “coronavirus” more than “COVID,” for example, which helped the company better tailor its articles.

The pandemic has underscored the importance of local media in helping people understand how a global threat affects an individual community.

Gannett CRO Kevin Gentzel hopes that the strong results delivered for local brands using LOCALiQ’s suite of ad products, especially sponsored content, during a challenging time like a pandemic will unlock further growth for the local media company.

If the local media company can “help local business owners solve for complexity in marketing for the digital world,” not just provide access to local audiences, it can help them understand their local market and steer their business better than remote platforms can during an unprecedented time.

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