Borrell Announces Creation of Digital Marketing Regions (DMRs) for Online and Mobile Ad Expenditures

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The new media market designation DMR picks up where traditional media market definitions fall short.

Borrell Associates' DMR Map

The DMR is uniquely for digital marketing, and especially for those trying to understand what’s happening locally.

Borrell Associates has announced the formation of a new media-industry geographical designation called Digital Marketing Regions (DMRs), identifying 513 U.S. markets where local businesses concentrate their digital (online and mobile) advertising expenditures. Local ad spending levels for any DMR – as well as for any U.S. county – can now be seen by visiting Borrell Associates’ website (

DMRs range in size from Los Angeles, with an estimated $813 million being spent by local businesses this year, to Carlock, South Dakota, with $310,000. Although the average DMR includes six counties and has $36 million in locally spent digital advertising, the median DMR has $10.6 million in online ad spending. In one-third of the DMRs, local businesses are spending less than $5 million. Each of the nation’s 3,033 counties falls within one of the regions. The average DMR includes six counties.

“Digital media has been around for 20 years without its own unique market geography, so this is overdue,” said Kip Cassino, executive vice president at Borrell Associates. “TV has its Designated Market Areas. Radio has its Arbitron markets. Other media use MSAs, CBSAs or a collection of counties to gauge business and consumer engagement. The DMR is uniquely for digital marketing, and especially for those trying to understand what’s happening locally. “Local businesses in the U.S. will spend $18.7 billion on digital advertising this year, up 21% from 2011. Borrell Associates issued a client memo earlier this week forecasting 30% growth in 2013, to $24.4 billion. By next year, for the first time in history, digital media will hold greatest share of local advertising budgets, knocking out the longtime leader, local newspapers. Digital media will control 25% of the $96 billion local advertising marketplace, while newspapers will control the second-highest share at 18.6%.

Borrell Associates developed the DMRs with the help of its client base of more than 1,100 local media companies. The regions were selected by a formula that identifies a core county where the digital marketing expenditures to reach local consumers is high, then spans out to draw geographic boundaries where expenditures taper off or “hit a wall” from another market’s expenditures. For a deeper explanation of the methodology, visit the Borrell Associates website.

The DMRs share interesting characteristics. Many are bounded by a river or a mountain range, indicating that easy access to stores is at least one part of the equation in drawing the lines. DMRs get larger in sparsely populated areas because shoppers in these rural areas must travel farther to shop than their urban cousins.

“The distance consumers are willing to drive to make certain purchases – to visit a shopping mall or buy a car, for example – is pivotal to the physical size of DMRs,” Cassino said. “These geographies become larger as the ratio of local online ad spending in the ‘core’ county to any surrounding county grows,” he said.

Borrell Associates has posted an interactive map displaying each of the 513 DMRs, along with the counties included and the level of local digital advertising in each market. It can be viewed at Visitors to the site can also view digital advertising for any U.S. market by county, by Core Business Statistical Area (CBSA), by Television Market Area (TMA), or by state.

Borrell Associates is also offering a free webinar on Thursday, September 13, 2012, to unveil the DMRs and answer questions. To sign up for the webinar, visit

For more information, contact Borrell Associates at info(at)borrellassociates(dot)com or call 757-221-6641.

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