Benchmarking Local Media's Digital Revenue

  • ID: 4244604
  • Report
  • Region: Global, United States
  • 41 Pages
  • Borrell Associates Inc
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Local Media Companies Accounted for 75% of All the Digital Advertising Sold in Local Markets

What’s Local Media’s “Addressable Share” of digital advertising in local markets? This report lays it out, market by market. Our 15th annual report offers 30 charts and tables and is based on our survey of revenues from 10,788 local media entities in the U.S. and Canada. It offers an overview of digital advertising growth patterns at the local level and how the national internet pureplays are playing a role.

You’ll find tables that gauge digital revenue by circulation size of daily and weekly newspapers, and by market size for TV and radio stations, local cable systems, and yellow page directories – all of whom are selling digital advertising. An appendix lists 513 U.S. Digital Marketing Regions (DMRs), offering estimates on local media’s “Addressable Market” for digital advertising in each, plus a “Highest Revenue Opportunity” for any one media entity in each market. 

This is the 15 year publishing the annual report that sizes and analyzes digital revenue at local online operations.

The analysis in this report is derived from four principal information sources:

1. Media Company Ad Revenue: A database of ad revenue and expenses for 10,788 local online operations in the U.S. and Canada. These entities include 1,029 daily newspapers and 751 weeklies; 884 local TV stations; 800+ radio market clusters encompassing 3,359 local radio stations; 2,608 yellow page directories; 182 local cable systems; 1,890 local internet pureplay sites; and 85 other local entities. Participation is solicited by telephone and email and supplement information with additional phone or email interviews. Participation is confidential, voluntary and without incentives.

2. Local Business Ad Spending: A database of local advertising expenditures for every U.S. Digital Marketing Region (DMR). A list of DMR expenditure forecasts for 2017 appears in Appendix A.

3. Ongoing Surveys Of Local Advertisers: Monthly surveys of a panel of 1,000 local advertisers and an annual survey of approximately 7,000 local advertisers, the largest SMB survey in the nation.
4. SEC Documents And Company Statements: Information culled from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents, public presentations and analyst calls, and other statements and disclosures made by media, marketing and advertising companies.
By combining this information with the local ad-spending data estimates for each market (the methodology for which can be seen at, we are able to assess the competition among TV, newspaper, radio, cable, yellow pages and pureplay internet companies for local online advertising dollars.

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Background and Methodology

Executive Summary

Chapter 1: Who’s Gaining, Who’s Faltering 

  • Local Digital Advertising Surpasses Traditional Media Advertising in 2017
  • The Real Longtail: 2016 Digital Ad Revenue Estimates For U.S. and Canadian
  • Companies
  • 2016 Digital Average Ad Revenue Growth Rates For U.S. and Canadian
  • Media Companies
  • Select U.S. and Canadian Legacy Media Companies’ % of Gross Advertising Revenues
  • From Digital Sales, 2016
  • 2016 Losses For 10 Digital Media Companies
  • Hubspot’s Annual Losses
  • Angie’s List Annual Losses
  • Yelp’s Annual Losses
  • Twitter’s Annual Losses
  • Zillow’s Annual Losses
  • Snapchat’s Annual Losses

Chapter 2: Benchmarking Local Media

  • Average 2016 Digital Sales Revenue For Each Type of Local Entity
  • What ‘Digital Revenue’ Includes
  • Top Dogs: Who’s In The Top 10% of Achievers of ‘Addressable Digital Ad Share’ in
  • Their Markets

Chapter 3: Benchmarking By Medium

  • Daily & Weekly Newspapers
  • TV Stations
  • Radio Stations
  • Cable Systems
  • Yellow Page Directories

Chapter 4: Conclusions

Appendix A: Market by Market Estimates: Total Local Digital Advertising,
Addressable Digital Ad Market, and Achievable High


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This report represents our annual inventory of local media companies’ digital revenue. We’ve been measuring the growth for 15 years and have witnessed a fascinating evolution. In more stable times (pre-2008), digital ventures were considered little more than revenue-producing R&D sidelines that rarely got mentioned in financial filings or presentations. Today, they’re showcased as proof of a company’s survival skills in a multi platform media world.

The biggest change we’ve noticed, particularly this past year, is control of digital dollars. When we conducted our first assessment in 2002, local media companies accounted for 75% of all the digital advertising sold in local markets. It was mostly just banner advertising on newspaper and TV websites. Today, it’s 18%. Fortunes have reversed, with search and social media advertising sold directly by pureplay internet companies accounting for 82% of all locally spent digital advertising. Google and Facebook alone account for 77%.

Local media’s 18%, however, represents a not-too-shabby $12 billion. It’s become an important revenue stream for many community-based media companies, especially those in the directory and newspaper businesses. This year’s assessment shows print media at the top of the list in terms of transition, getting onefourth or more of their ad revenue from digital sales.

The Washington Post tops the list with 79%, and several directory companies getting roughly half their ad revenue from digital. For the first time, we’re publishing estimates for local media’s “Local Addressable Digital Ad Market” across each U.S. market. These figures utilize a database of digital revenues for more than 10,000 local media entities to gauge what’s available - out of the reach of Google, Facebook, and others - to community-based media companies plying their markets for digital dollars. In so doing, we also found something remarkable:  While the average share any one company might get of those addressable dollars is 3%, there’s typically a dominant player in a market that gets, on average, 18% of what’s available. One is getting 53% of all available dollars.

This report tracks the progress of media companies and offers detailed benchmarking by type of media (daily and weekly newspapers, TV and radio stations, cable systems, and yellow page directories).  An appendix lists Local Addressable Digital Ad Market estimates for digital advertising in 513 U.S. Digital Marketing Regions (DMRs).

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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown