Small Business Research

Small Business Research
How are SMBs using media and new technologies to advertise and market their business?

Local Commerce Monitor™ (LCM) is BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing study of the advertising and marketing behaviors of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). A unique and comprehensive study - performed since 1999 - the findings offer key insights into the long term media and technology trends of U.S. SMBs.

Tracking Advertiser Trends Across Top Media

charts LCM covers over 35 different media and platforms used by both Core and Plus Spender SMBs for advertising and promotion. Our Core Sample focuses on SMBs that spend less than $25,000 annually and our Plus Spender sample focuses on SMBs that spend a minimum of $25,000 on media for advertising and promotion.

The different media tracked in LCM fall into these 10 top-level groups:

  • Online (e.g., search, display ads, blogs)
  • Traditional (e.g., direct mail, newspapers)
  • Local coupons (print and online)
  • Broadcast
  • Giveaway items
  • Video (e.g., website videos, YouTube)
  • Mobile (e.g., search, SMS, display)
  • Social (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Promoted Tweet)
  • Local directories (print and online
  • Community sponsorships

LCM also tracks social engagement (i.e., time spent on social media), click fraud, and agency relationships (i.e., level of satisfaction.)

Current Study

The latest wave of LCM is Wave 19, published the third quarter of 2015. Highlights from the study include:

  • SMBs in the Full Sample rated email marketing as their highest advertising/marketing priority for the next 12 months, followed by SEM/SEO and social media.
  • The average annual spend by SMBs has declined slightly over the past three waves of the LCM survey. SMBs used an average 6.7 media for advertising and promotion, which is in line with the 6.5 media used in 2013 and 6.2 in 2014.
  • Among the smaller SMBs (Core Sample), average annual ad spend dropped in the last three years.
  • The average annual spend by the higher spending SMBs, known as the Plus Spenders, has remained fairly consistent over the past three waves.
  • Broadly speaking, SMBs show a strong independent streak with 58.2% purchase online ads themselves (DIY), while 19.4% have some type of assistance (Do-It-WithMe or Do-It-For-Me).
Refer to the various LCM decks available for purchase for details behind the numbers.

Available and Upcoming LCM Reports

LCM is a comprehensive study. We offer numerous reports that segment the study around business verticals, SMB size, media usage and much more. A series of LCM reports are available – see list.

Upcoming reports due to be published very soon:

  • Professional Service SMBs
  • Entertainment SMBs
  • Retail SMBs
  • SMB Use of Loyalty Programs
  • SMB Use of Social Media
  • SMB Use of Mobile
  • SMB Use of Directories

Questions about LCM? Contact us at or (800) 331-5086.

LCM Excerpt
Download an excerpt from our LCM Wave 18 findings for Core SMBs.

Advisory Service Clients
Clients with portal access can login now to access LCM Reports.


The Shift from Media to Marketing Services

On-Demand Webinar | PDF of Slides

Watch this webinar for highlight from our latest wave of LCM, Wave 19 completed Q3, 2015.