WHAT and HOW of geofencing advertising and emerging trends in 2019



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What is Geofencing advertising?

Geofencing advertising is a location triggered digital marketing pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual geo-boundary known as a geofence.


How Geofencing advertising works?

To create geofencing advertising you need to establish a virtual geo-boundary in GPS- or RFID-enabled software like a 200-meter circle on Google Map as specified using APIs when developing a mobile app. This virtual geo-boundary will then trigger geofencing advertising action when an authorized device enters or exits that area, as specified by the administrator or developer.

A geofence is most commonly defined within the code of a mobile application, especially since users need to opt-in to location services for the geofence to work. Geofencing isn’t just for mobile apps – it’s used to control and track vehicles in the shipping industry, cattle in the agriculture industry and – you’ll see this topic pop up in drone discussions.


What are Geofencing advertising applications?

With the rising use of mobile devices, geofencing also sometimes synonymous with hyperlocal marketing has become a smart choice for small businesses. Once a geofence boundary is identified, the opportunities the possibilities to target end-customers are manifold and it is becoming more and more useful in social media and digital marketing.

Here are some other common geofencing applications:

  • Social networking: One of the most recognizable uses for geofencing comes in the form of popular social networking apps — most notably, Snapchat. Location-based filters, stickers and other shareable content are all made possible with geofencing. Whether you’re using a promoted filter at a concert, using a custom-made filter for a friend’s birthday or uploading to public, location-based stories, it’s all thanks to these virtual perimeters.
  • Marketing: Besides social networking, geofencing is also a popular way for businesses to deliver in-store promotions, alerting you right as you step in the range of the store. Geofencing also helps businesses target ads to a specific audience to figure out what strategies work best based off user’s location data.
  • Audience engagement: Geofencing is used to engage crowds of people at organized events, like concerts, festivals, fairs and more. For example, a concert venue might use a geofence to crowdsource social media posts or deliver information about the venue or event.
  • Smart appliances: As more of our appliances get “smart,” with Bluetooth capabilities, it’s easier than ever to program your fridge to remind you that you’re out of milk the next time you pass by the grocery store. Or you can make sure the thermostat is set to the perfect temperature when you get home from work by using a geofence.
  • Human resources: Some companies rely on geofencing for monitoring employees, especially workers who spend time off-site doing fieldwork. It’s also an easy way to automate time cards, clocking employees in and out as they come and go.
  • Telematics: Geofencing can also be helpful with telematics, allowing companies to draw virtual zones around sites, work areas, and secure areas. They can be triggered by a vehicle or a person and send alerts or warnings to the operator.
  • Security: Geofencing might seem invasive — and it certainly has the potential to sometimes feel like an overreach depending on how it’s used. However, geofencing can also be used to bring more security to your mobile device. For example, you can set your phone to unlock when you’re home using a geofence or to get alerts when someone enters the house or leaves.

Geofencing is a very powerful way to engage consumers based on “hyper-local” location. You can do a lot to trigger immediate sales if set up correctly. Also, you can collect data to understand the mindset of different shoppers. Geofencing should be included in your marketing plan.

Geofencing campaigns can be set up across many types of online advertising campaigns. This includes search engine advertising, display advertising, remarketing, online video advertising, and all social media campaigns.


How to Setup Mobile Geofencing Advertising on Google Ads

To set up geofencing advertising with Google Ads, select the campaign you’d like to manage, then go to the Campaign Settings. Google Ads allows you to geofencing on, search, display, and Youtube campaigns. With geofencing in Google Ads, there are quite a few options.

A Country, State, City, DMA, Metro, Zip Code, and Radius. You’ll want to pay attention to the exclusions. In Google Ads, geofencing and geo-targeting are called Location Targeting. Geofencing with Google Ads should help your quality score by serving more relevant ads to local users.

Google adwords geo targeting in settings_and_location_settings_for_geofencing_on_google adwords screenshot
Once you select Locations you can expand the geofencing options in the Google Adwords campaign. Your top geofencing and geo-targeting options are the following:

  • All countries and territories
  • United States and Canada
  • United States
  • Enter another location

google adwords geofencing options via adwords screen shot by digital logic

via Google Adwords

For most local geofencing advertising campaigns, select the option of entering a location. You can use the search feature to start typing in a location to target. The tool will give you options that match the location you searched for.

In the following example, searching for Dallasbrought up several options. It returned a match, as well as the possible Reach for each of those geo-targets. Reach, in Google Ads, is the estimate of how many people are nearby. The target or excluded location of the geofencing or geotargeting settings in your campaign find Google users nearby.

via Google Adwords

To select advanced geofencing options, select Advanced search.Once you select advanced search, you can select to add or exclude geography based on your selections. If you exclude a location in your targeting, then your ad will not serve to people in the exclusion settings.

The Radius targeting options in Google Adwords are either by the number of miles or kilometers around a location. When I’m running a campaign that has extremely tight geofencing or geo-targeting settings, I prefer to select a kilometer radius instead of a mile radius to have tighter location targeting.

To select radius targeting, select the Radius option on your geotargeting. In the example in the screenshot, I’m doing a one-kilometer radius around my physical location. Downtown in the small city of Shreveport, LA). For a Lawyer or Law Firm, this type of targeting can be very helpful if you’re running display ads around a hospital. The number of ways to leverage this tight geolocation targeting is endless.

radius targeting and geofencing on google adwords options showing by kilometer or by mile screen shot by digital logic

via Google Adwords Radius Targeting Options

GeoFencing and Geo-Targeting on Facebook

To set up geofencing advertising and location targeting on Facebook and Instagram, start the normal campaign creation process. Then, in Audiences, you can select the location to target or location to exclude.

Facebook geofencing and geo targeting for busiensses setup 1

via Facebook Ad Manager

To drill down to a very specific local area, select the geography that you’d like to target. In the following example, you can select “Drop Pin” on the exact location that meets your targeting parameters, then select the radius to target around the desired location. This screenshot shows a 1-mile radius near Highland Park in Dallas.

Facebook radius targeting using a pin drop for geofencing and geo targeted location online advertising campaigns 2

Via Facebook Advertising platform

To drill down further with your location targeting since polygon targeting is not available on Facebook, additional targeting exclusions can be set to block in your geofencing even closer than a mile around the location pin drop.


Facebook Location exclusions with geofencing advertising

Once you set the location that you’d like to target, to drill down to closer than a one-mile radius with geofencing, then you want to start building exclusions around the radius that you’ve set to target. In the following example you can see the original targeting with the location pin drop, and then the location exclusions built around the target location to make the geofencing and geotargeting even tighter than the one-mile radius. This is how you build a geofence on Facebook advertising.Facebook geofencing and geo targeting with location exclusions 3


Geofencing vs. Hyperlocal Geofencing

Geofencing in itself is a pretty powerful advertising tool, but it becomes even more powerful when you go hyperlocal. While basic geofencing can create that virtual boundary by targeting an entire zip code, a set of IP addresses from your customer database or all phones within a certain triangle of cell towers, hyper-local geofencing dives deeper than that. By using established GPS coordinates—along with the location-based tracking enabled in many apps and mobile devices—hyper-local geofencing is able to precisely target customers on the go. A hyper-local geofence can be as small as 150 feet. (That could be just one aisle of a store!). Ultimately, this type of hyper-local advertising can allow for much more targeted messaging and strategy, in the end, a higher ROI and more sales as a result.

Putting Geofencing to Use

So how can advertisers actually use hyper-local geofencing?

Once you’ve established a GPS-based boundary, you can create campaigns that directly target mobile users within that area. You then set up “triggers,” which send those users text messages, email alerts, app notifications and more right to their mobile device when they enter the “fenced” area.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you run a coffee shop. When someone enters your block and is presumably walking down the street in your area, you can send a push notification that alerts them of a special deal—maybe a free donut with the purchase of a coffee or 10 percent off their bill.

Whatever it is, you’re: 1) Raising their awareness of your brand, & 2) Giving them immediate incentive to buy from your business.

You can even make the deal good for a future purchase, so they can come back at a later date if they’re strapped for time.

Hyperlocal marketing advertising like this can also be used in other ways—including in retargeting and contextual campaigns.


Using Geofencing to Oust the Competition

Hyperlocal advertising is also a great way to beat your competition out of potential business.

The idea’s pretty simple: Use your competitor’s GPS coordinates to offer shoppers deals on products they’re on the hunt for in real-time. Give them deals, discounts or special offers that entice them to leave that competitor and visit your location instead.

You can also target consumers in the vicinity of your competitors, like those at nearby convention centers or tourist spots.

At the very least, if your hyper local geomarketing doesn’t work, it gives you information to boost your next campaign. You’ll know where consumers were and what message they saw, and you can refine and polish until your results improve. You can also use that data in retargeting efforts.

More Geofencing and Geomarketing Tips

Though the idea behind hyper local targeting is pretty simple, the execution of such a campaign is not. If you’re thinking of getting into this type of advertising, you’re best off with enlisting a pro agency that can help get your feet off the ground.

Here are a few other tips from hyper local mobile advertising experts:

  • Be specific, and use GPS coordinates over broader-based location targets
  • Customize your messaging for every location you target
  • Measure, analyze and tweak your campaigns as you go
  • Augment your campaigns with retargeting and contextual advertising with the data you’ve gathered

In today’s mobile-obsessed world, there’s no doubt that hyperlocal advertising holds enormous weight. Giving you the ability to target specific, localized consumer groups in real-time throughout the sales funnel presents a significant opportunity for advertisers and marketers alike.




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