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Advo is trying to take the practice of targeting specific consumers within a ZIP code to new levels of precision and cost effectiveness with Advo Targeting Zones.

Launching nationally, Advo Targeting Zones can be used for local or national efforts, via Advo's core product, the Mailbox Values shared mail program.

Within a ZIP code, ATZs can target a cluster of 3,500 or fewer households. They can focus in demographically by variables including age, household income and purchasing behavior. And ATZs can do all this for about a nickel per piece of mail.

"Advertisers are rightfully asking for more accountability for their ad spending -- that is, a better ROI and less waste," said Advo Chairman-CEO Robert "Kam" Kamerschen. "Better targeting of their advertising satisfies this need, because it allows greater reach and frequency against prime prospects by minimizing the waste of reaching non-prospects."


Marketers including Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City; Cellular One, Kansas/Missouri; Albertson's; and GTE Corp. tested ATZs in local campaigns. Pizza Hut, Pier One Imports, Ace Hardware Corp. and American Airlines used ATZs nationally.

"It allows us to look at various ZIP codes by zones to determine the exact demographics with any number of variables to determine prospects," said Sheila Dressman, marketing operations manager at Cellular One. "We find that we get a lift each time we've used it. It's as good or better than general saturation media like newspaper inserts, and you're doing that with less waste."

"It allows you to target more aggressively without paying what you usually do for targeted direct marketing," said Dave Kirwan, president of the Forbes Group, a Dallas-based marketing services company that recommended ATZs to Pizza Hut.

Advo rival "Harte-Hanks will do the targeting, but Advo is unique in offering the targeting without the high cost," he said.


Jena Mulligan, marketing communications manager at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City, said that in January, her response rates doubled by using ATZs.

"ATZs allow us to lower our cost per lead, which is our bottom line," she said.

ATZs helped make Scott Hook, district manager at American Tire & Service Co., a retail division of Bridgestone/Firestone, less skeptical of direct mail.

"I felt that the direct mail media that we used were wearing out," he said. "What I call `carpet bombing' was not growing our business."

Mr. Hook, at first hesitant about using ATZs, said what caught his eye "was that Advo could tell us who our customer was."

In terms of results, "We haven't used it long enough to tell definitively," Mr. Hook said, "but we're experiencing a much better first quarter this year than last."

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