What is a Designated Market Area?

A Designated Market Area (often referred to as DMA) is an advertising term that stands for different regions in the United States divided into separate marketing areas. There are 210 distinct regions and each Designated Market Area has a 3-digit numeric code (e.g. Los Angeles’ DMA code is 803). Designated Market Area is also referred to as “market area”.

Originally a television advertising term, today marketers everywhere can use the Designated Market Area data for defining geographic areas. In online marketing, internet service providers (ISPs) provide companies with data on a user’s geographic location through IP addresses.

Designated Market Area data reports are also useful for marketing and advertising research, as they show information about the households within a Designated Market Area territory such as household population estimates.

Understanding media markets can help advertisers understand the size and competition on the market, the viability of attempts, costs, and demographics. When advertisers want to reach their target audience through TV and radio in a Designated Market Area territory, they pay attention to the timing of their ads to reach the right audience segments.

A disadvantage of the Designated Market Area system is that market areas can overlap. People tuning in on the edge of one media market can receive content from other market areas.