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Zones: The Younger Sibling of Advertising

Updated: May 8, 2023

It was my sister Sarah's birthday a few weeks ago. Happy, Happy Birthday Sarah!

I like to point out every year that she is still older than me and always will be. She likes to point out that she'll always be wiser (truth). Being a younger sibling is pretty great, you can get away with way more because you've learned the tricks that work. Plus, moms and dads are more tired after the second kid, so they let more slide.

Just like my sister and me, advertising has younger siblings that often get overlooked, but they're perfect for some clients!

They're called zones.

Advertising zones can be inside a major metro area or even regional.

Zoned advertising is when an advertising company makes available a smaller footprint for ad space. Zones are most common in print and in cable. They prevent an advertiser from wasting dollars on ads that reach customers outside their service area.

A home builder on a certain side of town may want to promote their new development to people living nearby. In big towns with lots of traffic, it doesn't make sense to buy the entire DMA (Designated Market Area - a term used to describe advertising areas) because they'd be wasting dollars reaching customers across town. The home builder is likely better off buying cable in the zone near their development.

Zones provide a way to use the same mediums major advertisers use but focus their dollars where they will see returns. It does cost more per-person to buy a zoned schedule, but the costs are typically offset by the lack of waste.

Similar to zones, many national advertising companies have regions they provide as an option to advertisers.

Take AARP for example. If I was advertising a 55+ community in Oregon, I could focus my dollars on the Pacific Northwest. I'd also see this being a great way for a national advertiser to adjust creative based on the area or use regional ads to test various creatives.

Broadcast, including TV and radio, does not have zones and not every media format offers this option. Digital advertising is by its nature a zoned medium already, since you can set your geographic parameters in most cases.

Just like younger siblings, advertising zones often fly under the radar. Media companies would rather you spend more dollars on a bigger footprint so you have to ask.

Drop me a line if you want to chat about whether zoned advertising is the right choice for your business!

- Lauren

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