Borrell’s Local Forecast: Digital Surpasses Traditional in 2017

Local ad sales will earn $143.6 Billion in 2017, with digital channels representing a larger chunk than traditional media for the first time, according to a new forecast by Borrell Associates. The forecast was developed from Borrell’s midyear survey of 7,500 SMBs and 250 media companies.

Digital will jump 22.4% in 2017 to $80.7 Billion, while traditional will decline 6.9 percent to $62.9 Billion after treading water with just 1.9 percent growth in 2016, per Borrell estimates. But “it is not ‘us’ vs. ‘them,’” says Borrell. A lot of the digital sales – 19 percent – will come from companies that also sell traditional media, suggesting that some media companies are successfully transitioning to the new era.

Newspaper companies, for instance, will earn $5.4 billion from digital, while directories will earn $2.4 billion. Web sites, SEO, Reputation Management and Video account for most of their digital revenue. Borrell says the most used digital channel on the SMB side will be social media, with 75 percent of SMBs participating. Paid search will be used by 44 percent. Mobile represents new opportunity, with 9% of SMBs saying they’ll try it out for the first time in 2017.

There will be in-depth discussion of Borrell’s findings at its LOAC West event Nov. 1-2 in San Francisco. We’ll definitely be there. Please contact us (Peter at for a discount code.

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