By Robert Drews - vintage enthusiast, GIF expert, and two-wheeled traveler.
The geographic targeting of an ad campaign is as important to its success as creative, timing and any other demographic, psychographic or purchase intent targeting that may be applied. Geography is - and should always remain - the vertex from which all other targeting trickles down. For brick and mortar shopping, the importance of geographic targeting is exponentially greater than other vertical, namely e-commerce.
Within most advertising platforms, the hierarchy of geotargeting looks like this:
For most shopping centers - especially those in dense urban populations - the top four targeting criteria above don’t apply. For example, a shopping center in Los Angeles, CA may be flushing valuable advertising dollars down the drain by targeting at the city level.
Thankfully, in recent years, a new level of targeting based on the location of devices at present or in the past has emerged. Commonly known as geofencing, this targeting is quickly becoming a staple of digital ad campaigns. However, unlike a ZIP code or city boundary which have fixed parameters, a geofence’s boundaries can be vague and the means by which is set up can vary.
Let’s shed a little light on geofencing and how particular iterations of it affect audience and area.
Point and Radius Geofencing
This is the most basic and longest tenured facet of geofencing. As the name suggests, this targeting is based on a radius around a point, most often times an address, but in some instances, a set of latitude and longitude coordinates. With this type of geofencing, you can target devices within the radius while they’re there.
For precise targeting of visitors to a particular building or retailer, point and radius is not an optimal choice because additional devices from outside the building walls (but within the specified radius) will exist.
This tactic is commonly used to hyper-localize targeting of more general messaging and assumes it applies to anyone in proximity of a location.
Having this tool in your targeting arsenal can be a game changer! With this type of targeting, the advertiser can literally draw a boundary around a building or area to target only devices currently or previously seen within that area.
This precision opens up exciting and effective campaign possibilities such as incentives, conquesting and brick and mortar retargeting.
Real Time vs Look Back
Two different capabilities exist for serving to devices in respect to geo location: Look Back and in Real-Time - or devices currently on premise. Marketers can message these two audiences differently to get the greatest value from each. For example, you could serve ads to those currently on-premise about your loyalty program, and could message past visitors with incentivized offers to visit again. You can also send value propositions to users targeted at a competing property (Oh yes, you can definitely serve to people currently or previously seen at your competitors’ locations).
It’s important to note that while geofencing creates a precise bounding box around physical spaces, it cannot account for spaces that are vertically on top of one another. Thus, in a two story development, the bounding box will include devices seen on floor one and two for that particular geofence.
Keep in mind that small targeting areas result in relatively small audiences. It may be necessary to supplement targeting with cookie base pools or other geo and contextual tactics to meet your impressions goals.
Advanced tactic: Trickle campaigns can be setup to constantly message shoppers on premise at a location driving conversions such as loyalty program sign up or offer redemption.