Geo-Fencing: FAQ

Geolocation Location has always played an important role in advertising and, as marketers, we understand the impact of using location targeting in our campaigns.  In the world of broadcast television, we know that tailoring the copy to the coverage area will improve the campaign.  In the world of local print, we use the power of pre-prints and their ability to drill down to the neighborhoods we want to reach.  In the digital world, campaigns embrace the ability to deliver a message to the zip code level.  All of these location tools enhance our advertising and now we have a new option in the toolkit with geo-fencing.

Simply put, geo-fencing is a way to draw an invisible fence around a location and target the ads to mobile devices within that fence.  For example, we can target users and their ever present mobile devices while they visit fast food restaurants to promote an enticing combo offer.  Or, we could reach sporting event attendees when they are in the stadium with an offer to buy the latest merchandise or with an ad to build awareness for the next event.

With any new technology we are always met with questions.  In this article, we will answer a few of those questions, particularly those we have heard most often within the advertising world.

Why should I use geo-fencing?


Yes, geo-fencing is a newer toy in our toy box, but it offers strengths that exist outside of the novelty factor.  First, location relevancy in advertising is important to the consumer.  In the 2014 Mobile Path-to-Purchase survey*, over half of surveyed mobile consumers sited location as a major factor influencing their engagement. In addition, location provides context.  When users access information on their mobile device, they are aware of their surroundings and those surroundings impact the lens through which they view information.  For example, if someone is visiting a home improvement store, that person is most likely in a mindset that closely aligns with home improvement or DIY construction.

The ability to target your message by local context and generate a higher engagement with mobile consumers positions geo-fencing as a great way to improve your digital campaign.

*Mobile Marketer, “Mobile ad engagement doubles as targeting improves: report”, July 2014

What can I geo-fence?

Technically, geo-fencing allows mobile advertising to be targeted to any shape (square, circle, nonagon, etc.).  In practice, the fence is most often in the shape of a circle and the size of the circle is a radius from the targeted location.   While drawing your fence(s), you can target specific companies (large hospitals, stadiums, etc.) or location types (convenience stores, restaurants, etc.).

When choosing the location target of your geo-fencing campaign, consider the volume of the traffic attending that location.  The over-targeting that can occur in traditional campaigns and the associated difficulty of delivery can be duplicated by targeting  a narrow audience or too few locations with geo-fencing.

Which advertisers are a good fit for geo-fencing?

The inclusion of geo-fencing in your next campaign will depend upon the capabilities and needs of your clients.  Use the checklist below to see if geo-fencing is a good fit.

  • Is your client’s website optimized for mobile?  Since geo-fencing is a technology that primarily serves ads through smart phones and tablets, it is important to have a landing page that works well on mobile devices.

  • Can your client’s target audience be defined by location?  Some audiences can easily be defined by their current whereabouts.  For example, a geo-fence around a NASCAR race is going to reach race fans while they are thinking about racing.  Other audiences can be far more difficult to define by their current location.  For example, Men 35+ who smoke cigarettes would be difficult to narrow down through location alone.

  • Does the client’s end goal align with what geo-fencing can deliver?  Some categories are very concerned with the competition (auto dealers, grocery retail, etc.) and geo-fencing appeals to them as a way to capture additional market share from their competitors.  While geo-fencing can help these advertisers reach potential customers on the lot or in the store, it still requires a strong message to disrupt their buying behavior.  If the client can’t provide a strong promotional discount or advantage to change behavior, geo-fencing will not accomplish their goal.

The ability to drill down to very specific geographic locations is a great addition to many campaigns, but it is not the right fit for every campaign.

What can I expect from a geo-fencing campaign?

Local stores

As with any advertising campaign, we expect results.  The results of a geo-fencing campaign can range from increased brand recognition to a larger market share.  Drawing a straight line conclusion from your spend on geo-fencing to the final results can be as difficult as with any other advertising campaign.  Geo-fencing campaigns offer the same level of reporting as traditional digital campaigns (impressions, clicks, etc.), as well as the ability to report on a fence-by-fence basis.  For example, if you are targeting all of the furniture stores in a DMA, reporting would show which store had the highest response rate from their consumers in store.

How do I get started?

With the majority of Americans using their mobile devices while they are out of the home, geo-fencing provides a great tool to reach these potential customers.*  If you would like to start reaching this audience, simply contact MANSI Media and we can help coordinate a campaign using geo-fencing to run in sync with your other media strategies.

*IAB, “IAB U.S. / China Mobile Data Usage Study”, August 2014

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