The Average Cost of Local Advertising

by Dan Keen - Updated September 26, 2017
Shopkeeper smiling by storefront

Most businesses need to advertise to let people know they’re in business. There are many ways to advertise, and each should be explored to see which is most effective for a particular business. The main outlets available for a business to advertise locally include newspapers, radio, and local television and cable stations.


Mature businesswoman sitting in airport reading newspaper

Local newspaper advertising is often very effective. Weekly tabloid community newspapers typically have affordable advertising rates and target residents and visitors in a localized area. Classified advertising is most affordable, and text-only ads can be charged either by the word or by the “line” or space that they take up. If charged by the line, use abbreviations to keep cost to a minimum. Expect to pay about 10 to 20 cents per word for classified advertising. Display ads charge by the newspaper’s column width and ad height in inches. Column width varies from publication to publication, which may be between about 1-1/2 inches to 3 inches. Ad rates are charged by the “column inch,” that is, 1 column wide by 1 inch tall. Rates may span from $8 to $15 per column inch for a weekly tabloid newspaper. The cost of an ad that is 2 columns wide by 2 inches tall, typically about the size of a standard business card, would be calculated by multiplying the cost for a column inch by 2 for the width and then again by 2 for the height. At $10 per column inch, this ad would run $40. Discounts are offered for multiple runs.


Young woman listening radio

Many people listen to radio stations in their car and at work and tend to have a favorite local station to which they are loyal listeners. Budgeting $500 to $1,000 for local radio advertising can usually buy a lot of air time over the period of one or two months. Ads are sold by time, usually in 30- or 60-second spots, and price is determined by the “cost per thousand” of listeners. Radio prices can be very reasonable, as little as $1.99 per thousand or even less. With radio, you can also target your listeners, reaching specific audiences such as females, sports enthusiasts, teens or those interested in religious messages.

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Person plugging cables into an electrical outlet

With the advent of cable TV in many homes, businesses can benefit from both broadcast and local cable TV advertising. As with radio, ad prices are usually based on the “cost per thousand” of viewers and on the length of time for the spot. A 30-second spot in a medium-sized market typically costs about $5 per thousand viewers. Both radio and television often have higher rates for ads run in the daytime and lower rates for “overnight” time slots.

Other Options

Yellow pages phone directory

There are dozens of ways to advertise your business locally. The phone book’s yellow pages are expensive, and a year commitment is required, but they can be effective for certain types of businesses and services. Church bulletins, school yearbooks and local chamber of commerce directories are inexpensive ways to not only promote your business, but to show your support of the organization. Billboard advertising ranges from about $700 to $2,500 a month, but offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week visibility to your ad. If you have a website, the Internet can also be used to market your business. To get a significant response locally you will need to use other forms of local advertising such as newspapers, radio and TV to entice people to visit it online.

About the Author

Dan Keen is the publisher and editor of a county newspaper in New Jersey. For over 30 years he has written books and magazine articles for such publishers as McGraw-Hill. Keen holds a degree in electronics, was chief engineer for two radio stations and taught computer science at Stockton State College.

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