All about DMA – Designated Market Area

In many of Media & Entertainment technology initiatives specially around media agency workflows, we come across the term DMA or Designated Market Area or Media Market. So, what is DMA and where this term is referred or used? What is the coverage and application of the DMA?

What is DMA?:

  • Designated Market Area (Sometimes also called Demographic Metropolitan Area) is a geographic area originally defined as a group of counties that made up a cohesive television market. A media market, broadcast market, media region, designated market area (DMA), television market area, or simply market is a region where the population can receive the same (or similar) television and radio station offerings, and may also include other types of media including newspapers and Internet content.
  • They can coincide or overlap with 1 or more metropolitan areas, though rural regions with few significant population centers can also be designated as markets.
  • Conversely, very large metropolitan areas can sometimes be subdivided into multiple segments. Market regions may overlap, meaning that people residing on the edge of one media market may be able to receive content from other nearby markets.

Coverage of DMA:

  • Markets are identified by the largest city, which are usually located in the center of the market region. However, geography and the fact that some metropolitan areas have large cities separated by some distance can make markets have unusual shapes and result in two, three, or more names being used to identify a single region (such as Wichita-Hutchinson, Kansas; Chico-Redding, California; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York; and Harrisburg-Lebanon-Lancaster-York, Pennsylvania).
  • In North America, radio markets are generally a bit smaller than their television counterparts, as broadcast power restrictions are stricter for radio than TV, and TV reaches further via cable. AM band and FM band radio ratings are sometimes separated, as are broadcast and cable television.
  • Market researchers also subdivide ratings demographically between different age groups, genders, and ethnic backgrounds; as well as psychographically between income levels and other non-physical factors.
  • In the US, A Television Market Area (TMA) is a group of counties in the United States covered by a specific group of television stations.
  • A similar term used by Nielsen Media Research is the Designated Market Area (DMA), and they control the trademark on it. DMAs are used by Nielsen Media Research to identify TV stations that best reach an area and attract the most viewers. There are 210 Nielsen DMAs in the United States.
  • For the Radio broadcast in US, Arbitron (now known as Nielsen Audio) maintains smaller areas for radio stations; each is called an Arbitron Radio Metro. Whereas a typical TMA/DMA may cover ten counties, an Arbitron market generally covers two to four, and a DMA may contain two to four separate Radio Metros. There are 302 Radio Metros in the United States, but not all areas of the country are covered. In 2009, Nielsen began offering radio ratings in competition with Arbitron, starting in those markets ranked 101st and smaller.
  • Canada also has a similar system, run by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) which defines Designated Market Area (DMA) or Media Market.

Application of DMA:

  • Media market coverage is used by advertisers to determine how to reach a specific audience. In countries such as the United Kingdom, a government body defines the media markets; in countries such as the United States, media regions are defined by a privately held institution, without government status.
  • DMA is often used in market research, media planning and buying for traditional print media, television, radio, broadcast and internet

Map of United States Designated Market Area (DMA) 2013:

* Content and Image source: Wikipedia


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