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Local Advertisers Expect to Maintain Last Year’s Overall Ad Spending, with Shifts to Increase Spend on Mobile and Social, According to BIA’s U.S. SAM™ Survey

Feb 28, 2019

Local advertisers steadily adopting targeted social ads and location-targeted ads and indicate willingness to purchase these forms of digital advertising through traditional media channels.

CHANTILLY, Va. (February 28, 2019) – Most local advertisers nationwide will hold steady on their total ad total spend and media allocations in 2019, according to BIA Advisory Services’ U.S. SAM™ Survey of Advertising and Marketing. Only entertainment industry advertisers (i.e., amusement parks, sports teams, motion picture theaters and other entertainment venues) indicate they would make a slightly higher investment in advertising this year, while retailers, professional service providers, and home/trade service advertisers anticipate maintaining the same investment in advertising for their large or small businesses this year. Mobile and social advertising are the two areas where advertisers indicate a willingness to increase ad spend in 2019. These findings, and more details about selling traditional and digital media, are found in the newly issued report, Selling Advertising to Local Businesses.

“It’s clear from our data that local advertisers are comfortable maintaining investment in the ad platforms they are convinced generate the best ROI for their business,” said Celine Matthiessen, BIA’s Vice President of Analysis and Insights and SAM study director. “Over the past several years, our research indicates that advertisers are more focused on personalized, targeted communications and they believe mobile and social deliver on important customer engagement KPIs.”


The SAM survey indicates that advertisers want more than basic demographic targeting. They want full insights into consumer behavior on their path to purchase like knowing websites and social pages they have visited and produce searches they have used to purchase products and services.  This shift in advertising priorities puts the obligation on ad sellers to successfully demonstrate how their channel reaches the right customers throughout the buying process in a manner that can be tracked.

The largest area of mobile growth is location-targeted ads. Only 13 percent of businesses in the SAM survey said they were not currently using mobile advertising but intended to do so in 2019. Across all business categories, SAM also found that 35.5 percent of businesses are using mobile location-aware, while almost 24 percent are using mobile search.

“Because businesses like the targeting (behavioral) opportunities that mobile and social offer, these platforms continue to show the largest signs of advertiser growth,” said Matthiessen. “For traditional media, there’s an opportunity around digital that sellers might be overlooking. Our survey indicates that buyers of traditional media are extremely comfortable purchasing a myriad of digital ads from their local salesperson so sellers should be prepared to sell offers across multiple platforms.”

The most popular digital advertising purchased through traditional channels include social and mobile media, email, video, display and SEO.

About BIA SAM™ Survey of Advertising and Marketing

The U.S. SAM Survey is BIA’s proprietary annual survey of all local and multi-location/regional and national businesses that target local audiences in their advertising and marketing. The survey uses a sample of 1,500 businesses of all sizes doing local advertising and promotions, including local, regional and national businesses. (This survey replaces the company’s previous survey, Local Commerce Monitor™, which solely focused on small and medium-sized businesses.)

SAM offers broad and deep insights into all businesses within the local ad marketplace. Key topics in the expanded survey include:

  • How businesses rate ROI of top media including National Cable, National TV, National Radio, Streaming Audio, Digital Deals & Coupons
  • How businesses track social and mobile ad performance
  • Current and future spend for digital/online
  • Spend and use of 40+ different media
  • Franchisee ad spending
  • Profiles by type of local businesses

The survey data is available through BIA’s local advertising dashboard, BIA ADVantage, where the full survey can be viewed and exported in a downloadable format. More findings from the data shared in this release can be purchased in the report, Selling Advertising to Local Businesses.

About BIA Advisory Services

BIA Advisory Services is the leading authority for data-centered insights, analysis, strategic consulting and valuation services for the local media industry. Since 1983, BIA has been a valuable resource for traditional and digital media companies, brands and agencies, the financial and legal community serving media and telecom, as well as the FCC and other government agencies. Today, we offer comprehensive local market advertising intelligence in our BIA ADVantage service to help clients discover the path to their best opportunities. Learn more about our offerings at