Looking to learn everything there is to know about geofencing marketing, including how to use geofencing advertising campaigns to reach your audience around specific locations? You’re in the right place. That’s exactly what I’m going to teach you.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

Let’s start at the top.

What is geofencing marketing?

Let’s start with the basics. In short, geofencing marketing is the practice of using GPS (global positioning) or RFID (radio frequency identification) to define a geographical boundary, allowing companies and marketers the opportunity to specifically market their products or services to consumers targeted within that area with pinpoint accuracy. Considering geofencing marketing takes a location-based approach, marketers or businesses can target consumers who have attended an event, visited your or your competitor’s business, or appear within an identified geographical location. The targeting options are endless.

Once the perimeter or virtual boundary has been established, triggers can be arranged that communicate via notifications to a mobile device when it enters or exits the identified area. Geofencing advertising in the form of notifications can include text messages, email alerts, or app notifications. Other programmed actions might be to display targeted advertising or to create and collect location-based data that can be used to improve the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.

The goal behind geofencing or geotargeting advertising is to make sure your ads appear to the right audience at the right place and time. Geofencing allows you to choose where to place your ads based on zip code, a place of interest, a tourist destination, a country or more.

Advantages and benefits of using geofencing marketing

One of the most significant benefits of geofencing is mobile marketing effectiveness. It allows marketers to hyper-localize their efforts and hyper-target consumers within a confined digital boundary through their mobile devices.

Driving traffic to a business and boosting local sales are a few key advantages. For example, special promotions can be sent via push notifications to potential consumers within a specified area. There is the flexibility to update promotions daily or weekly and also to be able to set up limited time offers that can result in enhanced local sales. It also can be used to drive traffic to a business in the case where consumers are nearby. Customers can be targeted with freebies or discounted promotions in an effort to lure them to your location.

This technology can also help enterprises effectively monitor the movement or activities of their workforce within a specific location. Management can track their workers remotely and mobilize them where they may be needed most. This is useful for enhanced collaboration between security personnel or to better control on-road transport. This same idea is applied to security applications that allow parents the ability to track their child’s phone to stay informed of their movement at any moment.

Geofencing marketing also offers the opportunity to gather essential data about consumers that can be used to improve marketing efforts, ultimately leading to increased sales. Useful analytics include time spent inside your store, how often consumers visit, buying motivation, or buying habits. This information helps businesses refine their promotional strategy to improve customer sales conversions.

Specific geofencing marketing use cases

Event marketing: Businesses and marketers can hyper-target and market their products or services to consumers attending a specific event at a specific time. Targeting can be customized and set up for single or multiple event locations. Once audiences are acquired, they can be retargeted for later promotions. For example, a sporting franchise can target fans attending a game with special merchandise offers available at that very moment during the game. Alternatively, a nearby restaurant can target promotions to moviegoers to try to lure them after the movie with a real-time promotion.

Customer loyalty: Geofencing advertising can be used to target and send exclusive promotions and messages to consumers who have expressed interest in your business by visiting your location in the past. Even if they have not purchased an item, the likelihood of converting them increases, considering they’ve already shown interest in your product or service. It also keeps your business at the top of consumers’ minds and strengthens loyalty. Consumers can also be targeted at a later date with new product launches, seasonal products, special offers, or events. This makes geofencing a powerful tool for any business with a brick-and-mortar location.

Competitor location: Geofencing offers the opportunity for businesses to target the customers of their competitors who’ve shown interest in similar products. By setting up a geofence perimeter at a competitor’s location, businesses can attract competitors’ consumers with promotional offers and price-matching strategies. Messaging can include benefits or product features that position their products as superior to your competitors. For example, an auto dealer could create a geofenced ad with a special offer to target individuals who have left a competing auto dealership.

Custom audiences: Specific audiences can be created from consumers who have visited a specific location that ties back to your business. By setting meticulous parameters, businesses have greater control of the audience they are capturing through geofencing marketing. For example, a sporting goods business can geotarget a ball field for later promotion on sporting goods products. The audience they are capturing is an audience that is into sports and fitness, just by way of being in the targeted park. 

As you can see, there are many different use cases for geofencing marketing. Check out our case studies for more campaign-specific use cases!

What are conversion zones and how do they work?

Marketers and businesses can set up multiple geofences as targeting zones, as well as an individual geofence identified as a conversion zone; the latter is usually a business location. This allows ads to be served to potential consumers who enter the targeting zones through their mobile devices. From there, consumers are tracked upon visiting the conversion zone. Marketers can then measure the effectiveness of campaigns and determine the TVR (total visit rate) from targeting to driving traffic to a business.

Measuring online and offline conversions with conversion zones

Conversion zones are one of the most powerful ways of tracking online to offline conversions in mobile advertising. Marketers can track the level of physical traffic to a location derived from a mobile ad that was served to them as part of their geofencing advertising efforts. Once a consumer who was served an ad enters the conversion zone, their mobile device is recognized and their appearance is attributed to an offline conversion for that particular geofence campaign. Online conversions are simple to measure through trackable promotional codes used when purchases are made after users are served ads.

Conversion zone reporting

Conversion zone reports can be customized based on each marketer or a business’s key performance indicators. Data reporting can vary and include the following analytics:

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    • Impressions
    • Clicks
    • Daily visits
    • View-through visits
    • Click-through visits
    • Cost per visit
    • Natural conversion rate
    • Average days to convert
    • Geo conversion lift
    • Total spend
    • Total visit rate

    How to create geofencing ads with google ads

    To set up a geofencing ad in Google Ads, you must start with a campaign you have already set up. Go to that campaign’s settings – regardless of whether it’s a search, display or YouTube campaign – and turn on geofencing. There are a few options for how to do this.

    One way is to use established geographic boundaries like a country, state, city, DMA, metro, or zip code. Go into your campaign settings, and look for Locations. Enter the country, zip, or area you want to target.

    google ads geofencing location

    Another way is to set a radius around a specific location you enter. Enter the specific location and then set the range of the radius around that point. It can be as short as a kilometer or up to many miles.

    Radius targeting is determined by miles or kilometers around a specific location you enter. To keep your targeting radius as small as possible, choose the kilometers option over the miles option since a kilometer is shorter than a mile.

    Google Ads calls either option Location Targeting. When you enter a location or geofenced area in Google Ads, it will show you all possible matches (or people) in that area – the potential reach of your geo-targeted ad.

    Google Ads also has Advanced Search settings. This allows you to add or exclude areas based on your first selection. If you exclude an area, the ad will target everyone within your first selection except for the people within the excluded area. If you add a location, the ad will target everyone within both selected areas. You can add or exclude multiple areas.

    To see how effective an ad with geofencing is, you can run a location report to see how many people are showing interest in your ad within the selected area you’re targeting. Click on Campaign, then Settings, then Locations. At the top of the graph, you’ll see a drop-down for “Geographic Report”. You can view by Geographic report, User location report or Per store report. This report becomes very useful when you start optimizing your geofencing advertising campaign. For example, if your CPA is higher in some locations than others, you can adjust your bids to make sure more of your campaign budget goes toward your better-performing geographic locations.

    How to create a geofencing or geotargeting ad on Facebook

    Unlike Google, Facebook calls its geofencing, location-based ads, or “local awareness ads”. They allow you to find and reach new customers by showing ads to people who are within or near a specific location or boundary you determine.

    You can set up a local awareness ad by setting location parameters within any of your Facebook campaigns when you define your audience targeting. The following describes how to set location targeting for an audience for any Facebook (or Instagram) ad.

    To set up a geofencing ad on Facebook, you will begin with the usual campaign creation process. Once you’re in Audiences, you can choose a location to target or exclude.

    facebook ads geofence audiences

    To choose a particular area, as with the Radius function of Google Ads, you’ll select the Include drop-down button and then, once the map appears, you can select the Drop Pin button to set a pin on a specific location. Then choose a radius to target around that location. (For instance, 1 mile). You can choose a radius as small as 1 mile or as large as 50 miles.

    facebook ads geofence audience

    Facebook location exclusions with geofencing advertising

    Because Facebook radius targeting will not allow you to set a very tight location, you can work around this limitation by adding location exclusions. Start by building the location you want with the Drop Pin function and then set up a radius, and then begin adding exclusions.

    For example:

    geofencing facebook ads audience

    How to create a geofencing ad with Snapchat

    A Snapchat ad is normally a full-screen video ad lasting no longer than 10 seconds. Setting up a geofence advertising campaign on Snapchat can take less than a few minutes, and it can be started with a small budget.

    To get started, you will first need to create your basic campaign details, such as campaign objective, start date, end date, and campaign name.

    Once you have added your basic campaign details, you’ll be able to define the physical borders of your custom Snapchat filter. You can either choose a specific address by searching for it or by drawing an imaginary “fence” around the area you want the filter to be accessible to.

    For example:

    snapchat geofence audience

    How to create geofence ads with other programmatic advertising platforms

    There are many other platforms and DSP’s you can use to run geofencing ad campaigns. Some of the most popular DSP’s are Appnexus, The Trade Desk, Google Display & Video 360(DV360) and MediaMath.

    Creating a geofence campaign across those programmatic platforms is very similar to the other platforms we discussed in this guide.

    LiftIntent works with all these platforms, and our media-buying team has excellent experience creating and optimizing geofencing advertising campaigns across each of these platforms. As a matter of fact, we set up and manage thousands of geofencing campaigns for our clients each month. Interested in advertising on any of these platforms? Reach out to us.

    Geofencing vs. geo-targeting

    Currently, geofencing vs. geotargeting is a topic of discussion when it comes to which form of location-based advertising is most effective. In this part of the guide, we will briefly go over geotargeting to help you understand what makes them both different.

    As previously discussed, geofencing is a virtual barrier around a location that sends ads to users’ IP addresses. People within this barrier will receive announcements on their computers, tablets, and phones.

    If geofencing is broad, then imagine geotargeting as narrow. What that means is we are taking location-based ads a step further. Rather than looking at a group of people within one location as a whole, we select our target audience out of them.

    Let’s use a concert venue as an example. We are focusing on people that have recently visited a car dealership. These people just so happen to be at a concert at the place we are targeting. This use of geotargeting is focusing on recent past location history.

    Another great use of geotargeting is tying in specific location keywords. “Coffee shops in Uptown” will include your business ad if your keywords include “coffee shop” and “Uptown.”

    With geotargeting, we are now focusing on specific targeted audiences for a location. The person we are advertising to is physically at the area we have set as a target. That’s the most significant difference between the two – whether or not someone is physically at a location. Geotargeting ads are not limited by physical boundaries – or, in this case, virtual.

    Geofencing vs. geotargeting – which one is right for your ad campaign?

    Which of these two is the right one for your ad campaign? It depends on your goals. Who is it that you want to target? Is your campaign better suited for someone who is physically near your location? Or do you want to reach someone who is outside of your virtual fence, but might be entering inside of it soon because of your too-hard-to-refuse offer?

    In simple terms of geofencing vs. geotargeting, you have to ask if being physically near your location is essential. If not, geotargeting might be a better option for you. If your ad demands that people be nearby to take advantage of the offer, then geofencing is better. Those across town wouldn’t be able to benefit unless they were planning to stop by anyway.

    Remove probability by understanding your target audience, and then you can determine which one is better for you. It’s that simple. It’s hard not to find someone on their phone in public. This is what makes location-based ads so popular and effective.

    How much does geofencing advertising cost?

    Running a geofencing advertising campaign with Facebook, Google Ads, Snapchat, and other programmatic platforms such as The Trade Desk, Appnexus or MediaMath, does not cost any more than any other non-geofenced campaign you run with any of these platforms. The cost or bid price of your geofence advertising campaign is dependent on some key factors, such as how competitive your market is, and any additional targeting added to the ad campaign.

    Most geofencing marketing platforms allow you to bid on a CPM, CPA, CPC and vCPM basis. Each bidding method has the potential to drive different results, and it is essential that you select a bidding strategy that helps you accomplish your campaign goals.

    Case study: 78% increase in sales leads by using geofence marketing

    Last year, an automotive dealership group came to LiftIntent looking to generate quality sales leads to their local automotive dealerships through a summer-long promotion. An intent-based campaign was launched to target auto enthusiasts and auto intenders to generate quality leads within a 25-mile radius of the nearest local automotive dealership.

    Here are some of the key performance stats:







    You can view the full case study here.

    LiftIntent geofencing marketing platform capabilities

    The LiftIntent marketing platform allows brands and businesses to drill down to individual buildings, retail stores, malls, parking lots, events, and even convention centers.

    Let’s talk about specific LiftIntent geofencing capabilities that will benefit you — starting with real-time location targeting.

    Real-time location targeting

    Reach mobile device users based on where they are in real-time, with LiftIntent. You can target any set locations in LiftIntent’s Global Places data. Here are the parameters:

    • Place name
    • Category
    • Chain
    • Postcode, City, State/Province, Country
    • US DMA or MSA
    • US Congressional Districts
    • Household Income (US only)

    How can this benefit you? A real-world example of a campaign would be for sports lovers. Where would a sports fan be? You are most likely to find a sports lover at a stadium watching their favorite team or even at a sports bar.

    Real-time behavior

    Where has your audience been? LiftIntent analyzes mobile device location history to understand the places they have been, and just as importantly, where they shop. Here are some of the behaviors to track:

    • Fic sites, chains, or categories of businesses
    • Recency and frequency of visits
    • Patterns of behavior (e.g., drives to work)
    • Time of day and day of week

    Above all, you learn your target’s behavior; you will also learn how to advertise to them. To demonstrate, picture someone who stops on their way home from work every Friday at 6 p.m. at a local pizza chain. Then, somehow, they stop showing for two weeks in a row. On the third Friday in a row, you send an ad reminding them of their favorite Friday nightspot.

    This basic example gives you an idea of how detailed you can get with your campaign. Don’t know where your audience might be? No worries. LiftIntent has four categories that will lead you in the right direction.

    • Brand Shopper Segments – Focus on mobile devices that visit specific, branded locations.
    • Place Category Visitor Segments – This segment is about categories of businesses and points of interest.
    • Behavioral Segments – Track your targets based on behavioral patterns.
    • Demographic Segments – Target users based on their age, gender, parental status, and household income.

    If you’re interested in our geofencing marketing and advertising services, contact us to discuss your campaign goals.