Skip to content

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.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. What struck me through this entire article was the multiple mentions of Perceived ROI.

    Perceived ROI? What about real ROI?

    For any and all media. They should all have to justify themselves.
    If they are not working- be it due to inadequate creative or poor
    placement- change them. But you’ll only learn that by trial
    and error.

    Did you TEST using radio?
    Spend maybe $5,000 for a couple of weeks of airtime
    and it generated $10,000 in sales. That’s a Good ROI.
    It’s actual, measurable and defined. Not perceived.

    How about a fabulous Magazine campaign, with a
    1-800# or a QR code or a drive to a website so you can measure
    the response. Invest $25,000 for a 2 month campaign and
    watch and monitor the actual results you get.

    Not so long ago we completed a very smart On-Line campaign with a 10 second video spot appearing as a Voken on relevant sites with the ad disappearing into a Big Box which triggered a link to the client website.
    Excellent stuff. But as we discovered, 3 or 4 sites Blew the doors off in responses, leading one to believe that On-Line was the new Holy Grail.
    But in the next breath, there were equally 3 mediocre sites and 4 which were lower than whale dung.

    There are just so many components which go into a successful campaign, that to pin the success or disappointment on any media – traditional or new- does a disservice to many disciplines.

    The Digital bandwagon is certainly getting very crowded as I fear too many advertisers are abandoning hard working, profit generating campaigns
    in Traditional media Mixes (newspapers, radio, television, outdoor, magazines) in favour of ‘On-Line’ because that’s where all the action is.

    Hmm? Action…well there is certainly a lot of Activity via On-Line.
    That I am composing and you’re reading this far tells me Digital Communication is here to stay. That doesn’t mean I forsake all the other media predecessors.

    The Media Mix has evolved to have more elements in the mix certainly. But as long as they are working and can justify their investment and they deliver the client message with efficiency, timeliness, and accuracy, then I see no reason to discard all of my media tools which deliver results.

    Recently one colleague commented that these media tools of the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s are being tossed aside because advertisers want to look cool and current and sexy with today’s tools. Fair enough. But I’d wager most advertisers would prefer to appear out of date but still making money, than to look ‘cool’ but be broke.

    I lifted the next few paragraphs from Media Spike #26 in my series of 57.

    Traditional Media – you know the kind, Radio and Television, and that printed stuff like Newspapers and Magazines- all Toast. Oh and don’t even get me started on Outdoor. They are all going the way of the dinosaur.

    Such dire warnings have been sounding for the past decade and longer.

    Perhaps instead of the Chicken Little panic button, we acknowledge the evolution of media vehicles,the changes in technology, the proliferation of Social Media channels, and the changes in consumer tastes, demands, and capabilities.

    There is no question the ‘Internet’ has long ago eclipsed ‘in its infancy stage’ and now is a major player in local and global communications.

    What disturbs me is the sudden desperate abandonment of the tried and true and successful media en masse in favour of a multi-faceted vehicle which is spinning off madly in all directions.

    History is littered with ‘the next thing’ which was supposed to cannibalize everything that preceded it.
    A brief timeline:

    When Johannes Gutenburg made his first Printing Press in 1450, it revolutionized communication as multiple copies of news and information could be spread faster. Newspapers would begin to arrive in earnest through the next century.

    When Samuel Morse sent the first Telegraph in 1844, traditionalists of the day feared all print messages would be lost to this newfangled wirelesss technology that relied on dots and dashes.

    When Mr. Marconi had Transatlantic signal success in 1901 with what would become Radio, pundits at that time feared print and telegraph would be rendered obsolete.

    Electronic television was first successfully demonstrated in San Francisco on Sept. 7, 1927. The system was designed by Philo Taylor Farnsworth, a 21-year-old inventor who had lived in a house without electricity until he was 14. But full-scale commercial television broadcasting did not begin in the United States until 1947.

    The mid 1950’s- deemed the Golden Age of Television, became the foundation for advertisers and networks to ultimately reach a nearly global audience. The prevailing attitude became one of scoffing
    at all those archaic pioneer media who came before them.

    Sitting in the weeds was the development of technology that would lead to the launch of the Personal Computer as mass-market consumer electronic device in 1977.

    Clearly this new device was going to obliterate everything in its path and there would soon be no need for print as we’d have a paperless office. Certainly no need for magazines and TV’s and radios since the ‘Personal’ computer was the composite of all these vehicles and more.

    Today, more than 550 years since Mr. Gutenburg’s printing press success, you can still print a copy of this page, or thousands of others right on your own desk. Or simply store it digitally forever….until the next technological revolution.

    (If you’d like a peek at other Media Spikes in the series, click this link-Thank you)(

    Perceived Return on Investment?

    I would sooner ‘know’ the Return on Investment by constant and proper tracking methods. On-line is not the only measurable media. Certainly it is very quick, but it is not exclusive to being measured and tracked to see how well it’s performing.

    Too many small and medium size businesses are hesitant to experiment and learn what works and why. They flit from one to another without giving their media carriers a chance to shine, and their audience to know where to find them.

    Thank you for this Soapbox. It has been my privilege.

    Dennis Kelly

  2. I don’t think that collapse of traditional media is straight forward as people get information from digital media is deeply while from traditional media it is up to the mark and point to point on topics.

  3. In some of the businesses, worked much better than anything else. We still use Radio advertising for some of our clients. It’s not as powerful as it used to be in the past. Traditional media still has some years to go.

  4. In now a days we have to use Radio advertising for reputed companies because if u want to increase your revenue you have to work on all marketing platforms.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top