Benchmarking Local Media's Digital Revenue

Borrell Associates

United States

Category Advertising Spend

Media associated with this project

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What’s Local Media’s “Addressable Share” of digital advertising in local markets? This report lays it out, market by market. In it's 15th annual edition, this report offers 30 charts and tables and is based on a 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. The report costs $995 and comes with access to a 30-minute webinar with the report’s authors. Access to the webinar alone is $195. Website url below.

Borrell Associates has 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 side-lines 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 Borrell Associates noticed, particularly this past year, is control of digital dollars. When they conducted their 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 pure play 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 one- fourth 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, Borrell Associates is 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, Borrell Associates 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 others 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).


Ongoing surveys of local advertisers: monthly surveys of panel of 1,000 local advertisers and an annual survey of approximately 7,000 local advertisers, the largest SMB survey in the nation. Details can be found at

Reach of Media Related to the Research

local media digital

Type of Media Related to the Research

Desktop internet, Mobile