Intriguing Plots

November 1998


Intriguing Plots

Newspapers use "plot zoning" for more focused advertising

The problem with newspaper ad inserts, some marketers believe, is they're too unfocused: the real prospects within a paper's readership are few and far between. But that's changing as newspapers adopt "plot zoning" – breaking their distribution into very small segments that let advertisers choose precisely which neighborhoods receive their preprints. The segments are as small as the route covered by a single newspaper carrier, or even smaller.

According to an article in Inside Mediamagazine, plot zoning is newspapers' attempt to fight direct mail, which is grabbing an ever bigger share of advertising dollars. "By breaking out these discrete shopping areas, we're able to attract smaller advertisers who are interested in very distinct customers," a New York Timesexecutive told the magazine.

In Oklahoma City, The Daily Oklahomannow breaks its distribution into 271 neighborhood plots, each about 1 square mile. This allows advertisers such as the IGA grocery chain to send inserts to customers within range of just one IGA store. ZIP code zoning was just too broad for this purpose. The targeted store attributes its 11% sales increase in the past year in part to its new ability to reach customers with surgical precision. In fact, the store has stopped direct mail altogether.

 Plot Zoning vs. Direct Mail

Some say plot zoning offers three distinct and valuable advantages over direct mail.

  1. It's cheaper, at least in some cases.
  2. Advertisers know exactly when potential customers will receive their messages – an impossibility with direct mail.
  3. Newspaper inserts don't carry the stigma of "junk mail."




Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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