Editor’s note: This is one of 11 case studies featured in INMA’s strategic report “Programmatic Advertising Opportunities for Publishers,” released in September.

Like many U.S. newspapers, The Dallas Morning News has seen growing competition from online advertising networks for years. But the advent of programmatic advertising sales has created new challenges in the local space.

Programmatic technology has allowed advertising networks to provide highly targeted impressions across a broad range of Web sites, giving them added scale in local markets, says Joe Weir, vice president and chief revenue officer/digital of The Dallas Morning News’ DMN Media, the company’s marketing solutions group.

“As programmatic made it even more efficient for people to buy inventory, we started to see more competition in local markets,” he says. “Now publishers are trying to get more aggressive.”

To respond, The Dallas Morning News is leveraging programmatic as a tool to bring added scale to its own already-significant user base.

By using programmatic advertising technology to place targeted customers’ advertising on dallasnews.com and a number of carefully selected third-party sites, the company can reach 96% of online adults in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, according to Weir.

“We’re not just talking about our brand — that isn’t the full scope of what a good conversation should be with a client,” he says. “It’s about how do I bring you the most scale and the best technology to make your advertising buy as efficient as I possibly can and help grow your business and improve your ROI with this advertising investment?”

The key to the strategy, Weir says, is to “sell audiences first.”

For example, the media company works with car dealers to target different messages to customers at every stage of the buying process, using programmatic to place the ads in the right place at each stage.

“In some cases, we see our inventory doing really well; in others, other inventory does really well,” Weir says. “That’s our responsibility to our client.”

By improving the ability to demonstrate the reach of advertising, Weir believes media companies can leverage programmatic to take back their local markets.

“When you go out to a client and you can bring them scale and technology, you have a kind of competitive advantage you may not have had in the past,” Weir says.  Competitors, by contrast, “don’t have a 130-year-old brand in your market,” he adds. “We can have a very robust conversation that media companies can really win.”