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Two-Thirds of Marketing Budgets Go to Local Advertising, Across All Sizes of Businesses, According to BIA Advisory Services’ SAM™ Survey

Oct 18, 2018

CHANTILLY, Va. (Oct. 18, 2018) – BIA Advisory Services’ newly released 2018 Survey of Advertising and Marketing (SAM™) activities of U.S. businesses indicates that they direct almost two-thirds of their marketing dollars into activating local media ad platforms and the remainder into promotions. For businesses with 500 or more employees, this spending averages $4.48 million for advertising and $2.18 million on promotions. The 2018 U.S. SAM™ survey uses a sample of 1,500 businesses of all sizes doing local advertising and promotions, including local, regional and national businesses for insights into historical and intended marketing practices.

Advertising Total Marketing Budget“The significance and strength of local is revealed in the finding that overall U.S. businesses invest about two-thirds of their total marketing budgets (promotions plus advertising spending) in advertising on local media ad channels,” said Celine Matthiessen, BIA’s VP Analysis and Insights and SAM study director. “Those businesses in the top category, (500 more employees) had average total marketing (advertising plus promotions) budgets of $6.66 million, of which 67.3 percent ($4.48 million) was spent in the past 12 months on advertising. Businesses in the next category, 100-499 employees, spent an average of $259,000 in their total marketing budget, of which 61.5 percent was spent on advertising.”

The top five media for advertising and promotion include targeted social ads, email, direct mail, direct home and mobile location aware. With each offer hyper-audience targeting, three major trends are decisively apparent:

  • Social ad channels are popular for reaching targeted audience segment. Nearly two-thirds (61.2 percent) of businesses advertising in local market use “Targeted Social Ads” as part of their media mix.
  • Each of the top five media channels offer deep targeting, whether individual targeting as with email (49.3 percent usage) and direct mail (37.6 percent usage), or with household targeting with “Direct Home” (35.7 percent usage) media like door hangers.
  • The prominence of a mobile ad channel, “Mobile Location Aware” (35.5 percent usage), does audience targeting based on geofencing or geotargeting.

“As businesses continue their push to target local consumers, the media that delivers deep analytics to them will be the preferred choice for businesses’ advertising and marketing dollars,” said Matthiessen.

About BIA SAM™ Survey of Advertising and Marketing

Previously known as Local Commerce Monitor™ (LCM), the U.S. SAM Survey is BIA’s proprietary annual survey of 1,500 local business advertisers that’s been conducted for over 20 years. This year, the survey was significantly expanded to include the full spectrum of all U.S. businesses marketing to local consumers: small, medium and large.

Key topics in the expanded survey include:

  • How businesses rate ROI of top media including Cable, TV, 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 and is offered in a searchable, downloadable format. Insights and analytical reports from the survey are also provided. Additional information about BIA’s SAM study can be found here.

About BIA Advisory Services

BIA Advisory Services is the leading authority for data-centered research, 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 data platform to help clients discover the path to their best opportunities. Learn more about our offerings and our regional event series, LOCAL IMPACT, at

Media Contacts:
MacKenzie Lovings
(703) 802-2991

Robert Udowitz
(703) 621-8060