Imagine you are the owner of a toy store chain.

Imagine there is a kids’ amusement park a few miles from one of your stores.

Now imagine you could target mobile users in the vicinity of the amusement park with in-app ads about your local store.

For mobile marketers, the ability to reach potential customers in specific locations is a key piece of the targeting puzzle. 

That’s where zip code targeting comes into the picture.

What is zip code targeting?

Zip code targeting enables marketers to target audiences online based on specific zip codes. This means that businesses and brands can serve ads to potential customers within a small geographical area in proximity to their store. Zip code targeting is a great solution for local businesses and SMBs in particular, who want to reach potential customers when they are nearby. But it comes with its own set of challenges.

What is the main problem with zip code targeting in programmatic advertising? 

Created by the United States Postal Service (USPS), zip codes are designed to facilitate and improve mail delivery services. They are based on postal routes, which are assigned according to volume of mail, delivery areas and geographic positions. 

Zip codes are not intended for holding population data and they may change from time to time. Some zip codes cover large unpopulated areas, or others may only include P.O. boxes rather than residential or commercial zones. Zip codes are not polygons, so they don’t have boundaries. In short, zip codes are not a viable data parameter for programmatic advertising and targeting.

What’s the Census solution and how does it solve this challenge?

First introduced in the 2000 US Census, ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, or ZCTAs, are generalized areal representations of zip code areas. ZCTAs were created by the United States Census Bureau for the purpose of tabulating summary statistics of Census data.

Unlike zip codes, ZCTAs are polygons, and they cover most of the zip codes in the USA, making them a viable source of zip code data for programmatic advertising. 

As a first-party mobile data platform, collects user data based on location signals of mobile devices. Together with ZCTA information, this affords the ability to create zip code-based audiences, which can be leveraged by marketers for targeting purposes of relevant customers in specific areas.

Want to learn more about zip code targeting and other advanced mobile audience targeting?

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