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Zipping Around with Marketing Data

While mail delivery has clearly declined over the years, the magical power and efficiency of ZIP codes can still be harnessed for a host of other marketing purposes.

Amidst the modern marketer’s alphabet soup of acronyms—DSP, DMP, SERP, ROAS, DCO, and so many more—there’s one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves these days: the good ol’ ZIP code.

Introduced in 1963, the Zone Improvement Plan was originally designed to organize the vast geography of the country into well-defined areas for efficient mail delivery. And it’s worked pretty darn well. As much as we all scoff now (gasp, communication!), for 60 years, ZIP codes have enabled people to scrawl a random address on an envelope and, for a few cents, get it hand-delivered to the door of their aunt on the other side of the country within a day or two.

It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. And while mail delivery has clearly declined over the years, the magical power and efficiency of ZIP codes can still be harnessed for a host of other marketing purposes.

Wait, what? How can a 60-year-old government program help with modern media and marketing challenges?

The answer lies in an elegantly simple truism on which ZIP codes are based: birds of a feather flock together. It’s the same reason we at NOVUS like to say “geography is destiny.” Where you live, work, and play significantly impacts—and is predictive of—everything from the teams you cheer, to how long you’ll live, to your ethnicity, to the language you use (it’s “pop” not “soda”—fight me). The same is true for consumer attitudes and mindsets, media behaviors, and purchasing patterns.

So how can we leverage ZIP codes and geography to our advantage as media and marketing professionals?

Read More for three examples.