US TV Advertising: 4 Reasons to Go Local

The U.S. is divided into 210 designated market areas (DMAs) and knowing these DMAs is integral when planning and buying TV media in the US.

Some DMAs cover a huge (and scarcely populated) geographical area, others are geographically small. A DMA is a region where the population can receive the same TV station signals. For this reason local cable companies are able to insert ads that are only viewed in households in that particular area even as the TV channels show nationwide content. So, why might localized TV advertising be the right option for you?

(1) Budget Limitations
It goes without saying that advertising to the entire US TV population is not cheap. Limiting that audience to New York, for example, lowers the required budget by a large amount. A national 4-week flight will likely start at a low six-digit figure, while going local in a large DMA like New York would only require you to commit a budget with five digits.

(2) Test and Learn
When you buy a DMA, you will still be able to buy all the major cable networks, such as ESPN, CNN, and MTV. The difference is that your ad is only seen by somebody in that DMA watching that network. In this way, you are able to test at a lower cost which networks, dayparts, programs, and TV spot creatives produce the best response rates before you decide on a national buy. Buying national spots is not an insignifant investment so you want to make sure you have already identified the optimal channel mix etc. Buying DMAs can provide a very cost-efficient way to do so.

(3) Product Distribution
A company which only offers its products or services in specific geographical areas may find it cost-efficient to buy specific DMAs. Many start-ups and market entry companies are not necessarily available nationwide when they launch. Doing a national TV buy would not make sense since the spot would be served to millions of people with no access to the products or services. If you are only available in the Northwest, you would likely be better off buying New York, Boston, and Philadelphia to cost effectively reach the most potential consumers.

(4) Product/Market Fit
The US is an incredibly large area and while perhaps not as culturally diverse as Europe, for example, in terms of languages, political views, consumer brands etc, it is still often the case that some products do well in some market areas while trailing in others. You might have a product that does particularly well with the East Coast city dwellers, or a product that is best suited for people in areas with long, cold winters.

This blog post is an adapted version of an article that featured in Leverate Media’s company magazine ‘Leverate ONE‘.