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Traditional Media Isn’t Dead Yet, Despite Increased Competition from Digital Media

By: 10 January 2014

SMBs reported using an average of 7.6 different media to advertise or promote their businesses, according to BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor, Wave 17™, down from 8.4 in Wave 16. 30% of the SMBs surveyed reported using broadcast and 57% use directories and 65% use print/outdoor media to promote their business.

Of the different media used for advertising and promotion that BIA/Kelsey tracks in the LCM survey, only two of the traditional media crack SMB’s top 10 most used media for advertising and promotion: newspapers and direct mail. The rest of the top 10 are filled with digital media.

In the chart below, I looked at eight of the traditional media from LCM. Newspapers and direct mail, the only two of the traditional media to crack the Top 10 most used media list, fall first and second among traditional media. Radio comes in third, with TV and outdoor bringing up the rear for usage.

Traditional Media usage

But how do SMBs perceive the return on their investment for time spent in advertising or promoting themselves on traditional media? The traditional media with the highest usage, newspapers, had the lowest perceived ROI, while the ones with lower usage: TV, cable and outdoor, had the highest ROI among the traditional media.

TV had the highest perceived ROI among the traditional media, with 50% of SMBs rating it as either excellent (10-19 times return on that investment) or extraordinary (over 20 times the return), while only 13.7% of SMBs surveyed reporting using TV to advertise or promote their business.

Newspapers, which had the highest usage among the traditional media, had the lowest perceived ROI, with 26% of SMBs reporting returns as excellent or extraordinary.

Radio had the third highest usage among SMBs for advertising/promotion. But advertisers who used radio as part of their advertising mix reported being pleased with the results, as 36% rated the perceived ROI of radio advertising as either excellent or extraordinary.

Traditional Media ROI

For the first time in several survey waves, SMBs indicated that they are actually decreasing the number of media used to advertise or promote their business. The implication: media must deliver concrete ROI or risk losing business traction. Digital media penetration with SMBs has increased, as many of these solutions generate concrete leads and offer trackable ROI metrics.

Traditional media are far from obsolete, however, as the data suggests, and many are still well-regarded. However, for newspapers in particular, and all traditional media, as SMBs enjoy more digital options and demand clear value from their advertising spend, the need to produce clear ROI is stronger than ever.

More information about LCM and custom renderings of the data can be found here.

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  • Juli said:

    Really bad journalism- what the hell is an SMB?

  • Jeff said:

    Juli, SMB is acronym for Small and Medium size Businesses.

  • Chesterfield Homes for $100,000 said:

    I can contest to this. I have gone back to Radio ads to help promote my real estate services.

  • Web Design services said:

    I donít think traditional media is experiencing a downfall just yet, as it will probably take a few more years to really diminish the power it has had for decades.

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