NEW REPORT: Online Advertising Provides Big Savings and Drives Significant Revenue Growth for Small Businesses – $163 Billion Saved Annually and Reinvested in Growth Opportunities

By at 10 September, 2019, 10:05 am

Startups and the smallest companies rely the most on online advertising


Vienna, VA – In a new report released by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), and based on the findings of a mid-August 2019 TechnoMetrica survey of small businesses, the authors found that online advertising has become a critical tool for entrepreneurs and startups to grow and launch their businesses, and they are saving significant time and resources through their digital efforts.  The new report, “The Digital Boost to Startups and Small Business: Online Advertising Delivers BIG Benefits,” found that entrepreneurs and small business owners are saving significant time and money by using online advertising (nearly $163 billion annually), which has created more efficiencies and effective uses for the limited capital they have on hand. Digital advertising is driving solid sales growth and expansion opportunities for these small businesses.

SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan and chief economist Raymond Keating co-authored the new report. Kerrigan observed:

“Each new wave of innovation spawns new tools and strategies for entrepreneurs and small businesses to operate more effectively and thrive. With 89% of small business owners expressing confidence that their online advertising dollars will yield positive results for their business, it’s no wonder that they have quickly adopted digital marketing to support their business growth. In fact, it has become vital to their competitiveness and survival.”

Affordability Critical to Growth and Competitiveness

According to the survey and report, 73% of small business owners stated that without online advertising “it would impact my ability to effectively market my products and services and to grow my business.” This was especially the case for the smallest of businesses and startups. Of the startups surveyed, 90% agreed that “Online advertising has provided my business with an affordable option to launch and/or grow my business,” and 86% agreed that the method is “important to my business survival and growth.” The ability to reach customers and potential customers through online advertising was an important factor for 80% of the entrepreneurs in starting their business.

“I’m just incredibly grateful for online advertising as it gives smaller businesses the ability to advertise without going broke.”

 “It’s easy and affordable – which is why we use it.”

Small Business Owners verbatim comments in the SBE Council-TechnoMetrica Online Advertising Survey.

Big Savings in Time and Labor

Savings in time and labor as a result of the efficacy of online advertising is also allowing small businesses to use their resources more productively. Entrepreneurs surveyed said that, on average, they are saving 10.93 hours of employee time each week, and 9.28 hours each week of their own time. More than 8 in 10 (84 percent) of small businesses said saving time on labor was deemed a key advantage of online advertising over traditional advertising.

According to SBE Council estimates, employee and owner hours saved as reported by business owners in the survey, combine to an estimated $3.1 billion each week, and $162.8 billion annually. Small business owners are investing these savings of time back into the business: 42% have searched for or are investing in new growth opportunities, 31% have invested in new equipment to improve competitiveness, 29% have increased wages or benefits for employees, and 22% increased the size of their staff.

“It allows me to focus on other issues in my small business.”

 “Great tool to expand productivity.”

 “It’s much easier and beneficial for tracking over print, etc.  You can actually see the conversion to sale.”

 “Helps us find employees faster.”  “Helps us hire better candidates.”

 “Online advertising saves me time by getting the information about our company out faster and to new customers when they search for our business type.”

-Small Business Owners verbatim comments in the SBE Council-TechnoMetrica Online Advertising Survey.

Raymond J. Keating, SBE Council’s chief economist, noted: “These survey results serve as real-world illustrations of how technological advancements – in this case, digital marketing and advertising – are reducing the barriers to entry for entrepreneurship. Reduced costs and improved efficiency when it comes to reaching customers are vital to startup activity and small business growth. Given these tech-tool realities, to say that this is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur is an understatement.”

The new report is loaded with compelling data and findings about small business utilization of online advertising, including:

● Small businesses who advertise online view it as superior to traditional methods on a number of fronts, particularly with regards to customer acquisition: 89% cite finding new customers as a benefit of online advertising over traditional advertising and 88% report that they are able to target their intended customer base more effectively. A wide majority (87%) also consider the ability to identify new customers and prospects as a benefit of online advertising over traditional methods.

● 82% of online advertisers say that digital advertising has helped their businesses compete more effectively with other businesses, in comparison with traditional advertising.

● 81% find that online advertising has delivered increased value and higher return on investment over traditional advertising.

● Online advertising has delivered increased sales for small businesses. The median increase in new sales attributable to online advertising is 12.24 percent. Close to one-half (48 percent) of online advertisers estimate that digital advertising is responsible for a median sales increase of more than 10 percent for their businesses.

● Small businesses have also saved significant amounts of money from their advertising budgets as a result of online advertising. Each year, they save a median of $4,021 from their digital advertising efforts, with 3 in 10 reporting money savings greater than $5,000.

● Facebook is the most commonly used platform among small businesses advertising online, with 84% report using the social network in the past six months. Meanwhile, 44% have used Google Ads, 42% Instagram, and Twitter was the destination of 28% small business online advertisers.

● The short-term outlook for online ad spending among small businesses looks strong, with nearly 4 in 10 online advertisers anticipating an increase in spending over the next six months. Another 5 in 10 expect to maintain their current levels of online advertising spending during the same period.

In further observations about the report, Kerrigan said:

“The purpose of the report is to help more small business owners understand the value and benefit of using digital methods to grow their businesses and how they can use their capital and resources more efficiently. In addition, as it relates to our advocacy work, it is important that regulators and lawmakers understand the benefits of the digital ecosystem to the growth of small business and entrepreneurship in general. In the end, lawmakers and regulators must understand how the new digital ecosystem works and who may be impacted by regulatory efforts. Given the significant benefits to entrepreneurs, the customers they serve, and the U.S. economy, it is vital that policies continue to encourage the innovation and investment that creates the tools and opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to compete and thrive in the marketplace.”

Access the full report online by clicking here.


Karen Kerrigan,, (703)-242-5840  

Raymond Keating:, (631)- 909-1122    

SBE Council is nonpartisan advocacy, research and education organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For 25 years, SBE Council has worked on and advanced a range of private sector and public policy initiatives to strengthen the ecosystem for strong startup activity and small business growth. Visit for additional information. Twitter: @SBECouncil


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