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Digital Advertising’s Geography Test

The digital footprint just got a little…smaller.

Borrell Associates, the digital media advertising research company, recently announced that they have developed 513 “DMRs” (Digital Marketing Regions) across the country to help to measure spending in digital advertising on a local level.

To this news, we say “welcome aboard.”

Without a measurement of local impact, it’s impossible to get a full picture of a medium’s presence in a consumer’s life.  You may be able to get a vague picture of demographics – albeit one that can be directly tied into usage behavior at an individual level through click-throughs and a person’s digital trail.  However, without understanding their offline, real-life environment, it’s an incomplete view of their online to offline conversion.

This initiative was undertaken in part due to the increase in local digital spending, mostly coming at the expense of local newspapers.  Borrell has defined these DMRs based upon county-level expenditures, a geographic “central core” of spending which ends where the spending tapers off, often ending in some sort of natural physical barrier (mountains, rivers, etc.) that would impede a customer from driving beyond.

Coincidentally, we have been using that same sort of approach at the TVB for many of the analyses that we have done in terms of business development.  This is the reasoning that went into our analysis of IMAX influence at the local level.  It’s also behind the market analysis of QSR and Casual Dining – at what point does redirecting money to reach local consumers make more sense than a heavy national plan?

But our focus is on all of the local media habits of consumers – not just their online lives.  Media is not consumed in a vacuum.

The digital assets of the local broadcast television stations bring extended brand value to the online lives of their viewers.  According to the 2012 Media Comparisons Study conducted by Knowledge Networks, people from every demographic consider their local broadcast station their top source for local news and information, besting newspapers, radio, and other local sites sizably.  And nearly half of adults visit local broadcast stations websites each month.  In fact, according to the study, 51% of all adults report that a TV ad has driven them to go online to learn more about what they had seen advertised.

So these “brand extensions” are really powerful media relationship tools that belong in a conversation that transcends merely a digital one.

Borrell is correct when they say that 20 years is way too long for a major medium that has local impact not to have any sort of geographically defining local borders.  People consume media locally, just as they consume any of the goods and services that they purchase.  Without any credible way to measure the total local messaging impact, we’re only seeing part of the local consumer picture.

With this system, they’ve taken 513 good first steps to help to address that.

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