The Basic Rules For Geofencing In Advertising

Advertising Where Your Customers Are:  Geotargeting With Advertising

There has been increasing buzz amongst marketers about geotargeting as of late.  At least a few times a week, a marketer will talk about what they’re doing in geofencing, or an approach they have using geofencing, but often it is misaligned with the realities of geofencing.  Smart data with smart strategy can help make geofencing a successful tool for many businesses.

First, let’s take a quick look at what geofencing is.  Geofencing is a location-based digital marketing tool that lets marketers send messages to smartphone users in a defined geographic area.  For example, shoppers that arrive at a mall can be targeted with ads  by stores located in that mall simply because of their geographic location.  Digital marketers can take the gps capabilities to feed ads to people who are geographically ready to make sales decisions.

Some marketers get excited at the prospect of narrowing their audience by location and forget that there are other demographics and factors to consider.  Digital marketers can put some great strategy to geofencing to make their online ads even more effective.

Here’s a quick primer on some basic rules of the road for geofencing to get everyone thinking about it in a new light.

  1. Geofencing is not limited only to mobile devices. Geofencing can be done just as effectively, or sometimes more effectively, via desktop and tablets.  For instance, there might not be enough scale to do a mobile geofencing campaign as people aren’t on their phones long enough within the geofence area.  Another situation where mobile geofencing is not ideal is when a search starts on desktops (car shopping comes to mind), with a retail location nearby as the next logical stop in the purchase process.
  2. To do geofencing on mobile, the user must be within either an app or a mobile web browsing session. Making calls, checking email, or text messaging don’t allow for the right environment on a phone for targeted ads to be served.  Within a regular retail environment, only a small portion of all people might be doing one of these needed actions leading to scalability issues.
  3. A user must be able to look at their phone. If a phone is in a pocket or purse and not being used, there is no opportunity to reach that user even if they are in the exact spot you want to reach them at.
  4. Think about what type of action you are asking them to do and the situation that the user might be in. Geofencing can often be highly effective in situations where the person is walking or primarily stationary, as they’ll have the opportunity to safely engage with their phone. Conversely, geofencing doesn’t work well when the user is likely in their car as they are not likely to be within an app while driving (at least we hope they aren’t using the app while driving).
  5. Think about the geofence boundary. Are we talking about a very defined area with clear boundaries or a cluttered area where one geofence zone might blend into an adjacent geofence zone?  If it’s the latter, geofencing might not be the right approach to take.

Geofencing can be a highly effective digital marketing tool, but only when executed correctly.  Hopefully, this has given you a checklist of items to consider the next time a geofence campaign idea comes to mind.