A recent survey conducted by BIA/Kelsey looked at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to better understand priorities for the next year. The survey involved those SMBs known for investing more on advertising and marketing than typical SMBs, according to SearchEngineWatch. The survey involved so-called “SMB Plus Spenders,” which invest about $25,000 – $79,000 each year on advertising and promotional activities.

For 2015, these SMBs consider search marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising as key priorities. According to responses, the top priorities ranged as follows:

  • Search and PPC: 60.6 percent of the results
  • Email marketing: 53.7 percent
  • Print advertising: 53.3 percent.
  • Social media, mobile, broadcast and cable, and video: 45 – 40 percent

Steve Marshall, director of research for BIA/Kelsey, pointed out, when explaining why print advertising came in a strong third that, print advertising “includes everything from newspaper advertising to yellow pages, industry-specific magazines, direct mail, and door hangers. In all, there are approximately 50 different platforms that fall under this category.” Marshall also noted how broad this category is and that “traditional or print media is still widely used by numerous SMBs and is a staple for many service providers.”

Marshall explained the SMBs surveyed, telling SearchEngineWatch that, “We purposefully surveyed a broad spectrum of businesses. We wanted to make sure that each category was widely represented. The businesses surveyed are primarily locally owned and not a part of a larger chain.” He added that, “Our biggest single category surveyed was General Retail and included businesses such as bicycle shops and gift stores. Trade Services such as plumbers and electricians were also included.”

Marshall indicated that he was surprised at the slow-down and plateauing of media spending growth. “We believe this is largely due to the replacement of media spending by less expensive social media.” Meanwhile, “The rapid growth of digital media,” was also surprising. And, as for social media, it is no longer just Facebook leading. There is strength being seen in LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram, to name a few, according to Marshall.

Another area in which growth was seen is in discount and loyalty programs. In fact, SMBs estimate some 25 percent of their sales over the next year will originate in discount programs; promotions; and sales, with many linked to loyalty programs. “I believe this represents a change in the ‘contract’ between SMBs and their customers, to a relationship that is more involved, regular, and intimate,” Marshall pointed out.

“The LCM findings indicate small businesses want to improve on the ability for consumers to discover them,” said Marshall. “SEM, SEO, and pay per click are fundamental to achieving this goal, particularly with the growth of mobile search,” he added, according to BIAKelsey.

BIA/Kelsey’s U.S. Local Media Forecast 2015 indicates that local search revenues are expected to reach $7.2 billion next year, which is up $7.1 billion from 2014. Local mobile search will account for more than half –51.1 percent—of all mobile ad spending next year, also according to the forecast.


  • SearchEngineWatch; Search Top Priority Among SMBs [Study]; By Ashley Zeckman; November 19, 2014; http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2381970/Search-Top-Priority-Among-SMBs-Study
  • BIAKelsey; Search Engine Marketing Top Priority for Majority of Higher-Spending SMBs; November 5, 2014; http://www.biakelsey.com/Company/Press-Releases/141105-Search-Engine-Marketing-Top-Priority-for-Majority-of-Higher-Spending-SMBs.asp