Survey Says SMB Ad Spending To Rebound In 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Posted by Andy Wendt

2013 Add GrowthBy Gordon Borrell

Things are really getting robust in the local space, especially for SMB ad spending.

It looks like ad spending nationwide should rebound by a healthy 7.5% this year, but the real story is in the local space, which is forecast to grow 8.2%, from $88.9 billion in 2012 to $96.2 billion in 2013. The headline isn’t that “local” is growing mildly faster, but that small and medium size businesses (SMBs) are choosing to spend their marketing dollars in dramatically different ways.

SMB spending on local online media this year promises to be nothing short of phenomenal.  (It really shouldn’t be growing this fast, but our surveys and trend analysis at Borrell Associates indicate potential grow of 31%.)  If it grows at a 31% clip, that would take local online ad spending from $18.7 billion last year to $24.5 billion this year, comprising one-fourth of all local advertising. That growth outstrips 2012, when we saw local online advertising grow 20%.

We just surveyed 1,756 SMBs at year’s end 2012 and gained some fascinating insights. Among the findings:

•Online media will likely hold the No.1 spot in terms of local ad share, beating out newspapers – the centuries-long leader – in all but four U.S. markets.

•Cinema advertising is growing faster than online, at a healthy 42%.

•Two media categories are expected to see declines: local radio, dropping 5.9%, and local magazines, shoppers and alternative newsweeklies, dropping 2.5%.

•Only 20% of advertisers in our year-end survey of 1,756 SMBs said that they planned to increase online advertising, while 52% said they planned to spend the same. This indicates that the growth in online advertising might come from newcomers and high-rollers.

•Top areas of spending increases for SMBs this year are online, mobile and direct mail. Under the “online” category, social media and “my company’s website” are being earmarked for the largest increases.

•SMBs show high interest in mobile, and the few who have tried mobile campaigns seem hooked. Some 83% of SMBs who’ve used mobile said they’re likely to continue.

Many of the insights offer a glimpse of how SMBs are planning to adjust their marketing dials for a more optimum mix of spending in 2013.   Times are certainly changing, and traditional media companies must be under a lot of duress as a result.  Some of the charts and data from the SMB survey can be downloaded from Slideshare at