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Franchises Report Franchisors Actively Involved in Online Presence of Their Local Businesses

Aug 14, 2013

Latest findings from BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor study indicate franchisors subsidize local online presence costs and regulate social media use

CHANTILLY, Va. (Aug. 14, 2013) – Franchisors are actively involved in the local online presence of their franchise businesses, often funding and controlling digital marketing activities at the local level, according to the latest findings from the “Local Commerce Monitor” (LCM – Wave 17)), BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing study of the advertising behaviors of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Franchises estimated their franchisors covered, on average, 43 percent of the online presence costs of their individual businesses, for things like website development, landing pages, enhanced listings and online video.

Franchisors have a vested interest in the online ratings, reviews and customer comments about their individual franchisees, leading some franchisors to limit or filter social media used by franchisees. More than half (51 percent) of franchisees surveyed stated their franchisors are “highly involved” with the social media presence of their local franchise businesses (e.g., they require the local franchise to run public dialog with customers through the national corporate website).

Another 23 percent of franchisees said their franchisors are “somewhat involved” with their social media presence, allowing the local franchises to use social networks like Facebook, but with rules and boundaries about how active they can be and what they can say.

“The LCM findings point to a potential tug-of-war setting up over the social media presence of franchises,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “An essential characteristic of successful social media programs is authenticity, which requires candid, timely and uncensored posting. At the same time, franchisors need to be highly protective of their brands, which includes their local presence. The challenge is whether social media can be used successfully by local franchises when there’s a high degree of control from the parent company. The jury is still out—this is a delicate balancing act and the roles are still being defined.”

BIA/Kelsey will present findings from LCM – Wave 17 during a free webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 21. To view an on-demand version of the webinar and/or the slide deck, click now.

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Franchise Leaders at LEADING IN LOCAL: SMB Digital Marketing

BIA/Kelsey’s upcoming LEADING IN LOCAL: SMB Digital Marketing conference, which takes place Sept. 11-13, in Austin, will provide relevant context for the LCM – Wave 17 findings. The conference program will feature insights from SMB franchise leaders, including Hunter Rose, vice chairman of Ben & Jerry’s Franchise Board of Directors and owner of three Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops in the Dallas area.

Also on the agenda is a conversation with 24 Hour Fitness Senior Vice President Dave Galvan, who is leading the company’s transition to comprehensive digital services, with state-of-the-art tools to engage its members and drive new customers to its 400 clubs in 18 states.

The program will also look at the social presence of SMBs with insights provided by Darnell Holloway, head of business outreach at Yelp, along with some Austin area SMBs that work with Yelp.

About Local Commerce Monitor

Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) is BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing tracking survey of small and medium-sized businesses conducted online with research partner Ipsos. The survey measures where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving. For this study, SMB is defined as a business having from 1 to 99 employees. Local Commerce Monitor draws its sample of business respondents from a mix of nationally scoped MSAs, which include first- and second-tier markets. Local Commerce Monitor Wave 17 was conducted in July 2013 via an online survey of 568 SMBs. The data regarding franchisees is based on the responses of 95 respondents (17 percent of the full LCM sample of SMBs) who self-identified as a “franchisee or licensee of a national company.”

About LEADING IN LOCAL: SMB Digital Marketing

BIA/Kelsey’s LEADING IN LOCAL conferences are the definitive events on local digital advertising and marketing. LEADING IN LOCAL: SMB Digital Marketing is focused on how the sales forces of Yellow Pages, search firms, newspapers, TV and radio stations, promotions companies and other digital marketing solutions providers are converging on independent SMBs, franchisees and regional groups. The conference will offer a first-hand look at the latest innovations and influential players in SMB-driven search, video, social media, mobile, promotions, CRM and reputation management.

Event sponsors include Agendize, Amdocs, Apptus, CallFire, eLocal Listing, First Data, Infogroup, Local Market Launch, Media Distribution Solutions, Neustar, Sales Transformation Now, Reply!, Telmetrics, UBL, vSplash, Yext and YP.

Association and media partners include the Association of Directory Publishers (ADP), Big Marketing for Small Business, International Classified Media Association (ICMA), Local Commerce Canada, Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA), Smallbiztechnology, Small Business Trends, The Next Web, Topseos, and Visibility Magazine.

For more information, visit

About BIA/Kelsey

BIA/Kelsey advises companies in the local media space through consulting and valuation services, research and forecasts, Custom Advisory Services and conferences. Since 1983 BIA/Kelsey has been a resource to the media, mobile advertising, telecommunications, Yellow Pages and electronic directory markets, as well as to government agencies, law firms and investment companies looking to understand trends and revenue drivers. BIA/Kelsey’s annual conferences draw executives from across industries seeking expert guidance on how companies are finding innovative ways to grow. Additional information is available at, on the company’s Local Media Watch blog, Twitter ( and Facebook ( Stay connected by subscribing to the firm’s bi-monthly newsletter.

For more information contact:

Eileen Pacheco
For BIA/Kelsey
(508) 888-7478