Designated Market Area: What It Is and What Its Impact Is

Designated market areas (DMAs) refer to the geographic areas within which a population receives similar radio, television, and broadcast channels.DMAs are also referred to as media markets, broadcast markets, or TV markets. Sometimes DMAs also apply to recipients of online and newspaper content. 

Often DMAs are ranked based on the population size in a region. This ranking method means that designated market areas can include cities, metropolitan areas, or mixed regions. When used by market researchers, DMAs reveal info about audience demographics and the products they consume—new shows, radio programs, etc. 

While the internet has changed the way firms employ DMAs, media markets are still effective tools for targeting audiences and achieving marketing goals.

How Designated Market Areas Work

The Neilsen Research Group divides the country into 210 DMAs. Representing 210 media markets, DMAs help compile ratings that determine which shows will air. While counties fall within different broadcast markets, media markets are named based on their largest metropolitan area. But these markets often incorporate surrounding metropolitan areas too. For instance, Washington, D.C’s. Hagerstown DMA covers more than 2million homes in Maryland and the districts of Columbia as well.

Often viewing habits determine which DMA a particular area falls into.  An example: if the majority of the people in a county watch Baltimore-based television stations, the county is included within the Baltimore DMA. That’s despite the county being close to other DMAs like Washington, D.C.

By using Nielsen ratings to give insights on the performance of different programs, media owners make appropriate programming schedules. In turn, advertisers target the best-performing programs with ads intended to reach target audiences. Besides marketers tailor their content to target demographics in different media markets.

To add, DMAs also help establish advertising costs in specific areas. That’s why television ads are more expensive in areas like Los Angeles as compared to Laredo, Texas.

Best Practices for Designated Market Areas

#1. Leverage DMAs

When it comes to media markets, all the demographic categories that public relations and marketing pros need are readily available. Leveraging information provided by DMAs to tailor advertisements and products is a gamechanger. That said, finding the right time and program to feature marketing content is key to reaching the largest portion of a target audience.

#2. Tailor Pitches to a DMA

Within larger DMAs it’s quite hard for a company to create earned media coverage. Media outlets within these areas tend to be highly selective of the stories they cover and the pitches they accept. Therefore, with so much competition in larger media markets, advertisers should tailor their pitches in a manner that draws journalists and media outlets in a target audience. One key to such a pitch is tailoring a story to meet a target audience’s needs.

#3. Consider Costs  

Marketers should be realistic about the costs of targeting a specific DMA. Noting that the costs of entering and having an impact in a specific market vary significantly, PR pros should evaluate their budgets based on target media markets. With larger DMAs being associated with higher costs of living, PR and marketing budgets must be directed to the most appropriate areas where target audiences reside. As such, firms with smaller budgets should target audiences in smaller DMAs since their efforts may not be effective in large-sized media markets.

#4. Hire DMA Specialists

Given that several factors go into selecting an appropriate DMA for a specific message, it’s invaluable to work with firms that specialize in connecting marketers with the right media market. While it may seem simple to select a DMA, slight mistakes may have costly consequences. 

Implication of DMAs on PR

Reaching an ideal audience with the right messages and at the right time is key to increasing leads and brand loyalty. With the rise of the internet, cable television, and social media, more people than ever can access content from a DMA of their choice-, which complicates the process of targeting audiences. As such, PR and marketing agencies should adapt their targeting strategies to improve the effectiveness of purchased airtime.

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