Which Media Format Captures the Biggest Share of SMB Ad Budgets?


We may live in a digital age, but that’s not slowing TV down. In fact, TV is doing better than online ads among small- and medium-​sized business, according to a recent report by Spots n Dots highlighting Borrell Associates’ findings from an annual survey.

According to the survey, here are the average costs that small- to ‑medium sized businesses are paying for each advertising medium they utilize:

  • Broadcast TV: $176,105
  • Cable TV: $68,123
  • Search Engine Marketing: $64,235
  • Direct Mail: $40,254
  • Radio: $39,860
  • Online Video: $10,236
  • Social Media: $6,498

Spots n Dots points out that a portion of the online video spend total can also be contributed to TV. This is because the operators of localized TV and cable also tend to offer digital video services to their clients.

Borrell credits TV’s success with the medium’s ease of interpretation, which makes it worth the cost to many local advertisers. On the other hand, search engine marketing, “may not require a big investment of dollars, but it does require a ‘great deal of frequency’ to work.” However, the elevated cost of TV ads can be discouraging for some small local businesses.

Of the businesses surveyed, 41% actively purchase TV spots (23% on broadcast and 18% on cable). That doesn’t necessarily mean the remaining 49% don’t want to utilize the power of TV; they just may not have the money. Online ads tend to be cheaper, so as an alternative to TV, Borrell recommends advertisers suggest online video ads to clients. Only 27% of local advertisers actively purchase these ads currently.

Doesn’t that mean that small- and medium-​sized businesses will eventually invest their TV ad dollars in online video? Nope. Borrell has found that these businesses are cutting their newspaper, yellow pages and radio ad spending to support their online video efforts. Meanwhile, they’re maintaining their TV ad spending.

Want to know more about the audiences most likely to respond to local TV and online video ads? Check out the Local First Shoppers, Small Business Saturday Shoppers and the many TV watcher profiles available in AudienceSCAN by AdMall from SalesFuel.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-​op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.