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Small Businesses Will Buy Advertising Across Eight to 15 Different Platforms This Year, According to BIA’s U.S. SAM™ Survey

May 9, 2019

Small local businesses spend nearly half of their budgets on digital products and see high ROI from traditional media.

The size of local businesses determines their ad buying power, according to BIA’s U.S. SAM™ Survey of Advertising and Marketing. Businesses with 1-19 employees spend just over $6,431 per year on an average of eight media, compared to businesses with 20-99 employees that spend more than $47,602 per year across an average of 15 media. Both groups use a mix of traditional and digital channels and both plan to increase spending in the different digital media channels they use in 2019.

BIA Small Business Advertising Profiles

“Small businesses are diverse and there are many ways to look at their ad buying power,” said Celine Matthiessen, VP insights and analytics, BIA Advisory Services. “We like to look at their ad spend and ad buying behaviors by employee size and revenue because there are huge differences in a local businesses’ advertising strategy based on their size.”

For businesses with 20-99 employees, 53.7 percent of these advertisers plan to increase their spending this year. Social and mobile top the list in terms of most used media and media most likely to get future spend. They also give the nod to traditional media like television, radio and newspaper for high (10x) ROI.

It’s a different story for very small businesses that have under 19 employees. They do not intend on increasing their ad spend this year; however, they are intent on putting more of their ad budget toward geofilters on social, search and email.

“For all small businesses of all sizes, advanced targeting capabilities is becoming more important,” continued Matthiessen. “Local sellers can tap into this opportunity to better show how their media delivers targeted access to buyers. It’s also a key pathway for traditional media sellers to secure new digital spend.”

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. SAM offers broad and deep insights into all businesses within the local ad marketplace.

More findings from the data shared in this release can be purchased in the reports, Advertising & Marketing Behaviors of Businesses 20-99 and Advertising and Marketing Behaviors of Businesses 1-19.

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.

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 at