Geo-Targeting

The differences between Geo-Targeting, Geo-Fencing, Geo-Framing

You may have heard about a new tactic that’s becoming popular with advertisers seeking to reach people on their mobile devices…It’s called by some Geo-Farming. It’s also referred to as Geo-Retargeting. Why can’t everybody in the digital ad game agree to call things by the same name? Let’s save that for another day!  What is Geo-Farming/Geo-Retargeting?

Well there are a lot of “geo” terms when it comes to digital advertising, so let’s take a look at each:


Geo-Targeting:  This is delivering ads to people who meet specific targeting criteria AND who enter inside of a defined geographic area (city, zip radius). It hones in on specific consumer targeting criteria like demographics, behaviors, interests, keywords, AND where the person is located. So you are NOT showing the ads to EVERYONE inside the geographic area you have designated, they must ALSO meet the targeting criteria. This marketing tactic can be utilized to reach people on mobile phones or across all devices.

Geo-Fencing: Refers to drawing a virtual fence around a location and delivering ads to ANYONE who is inside that fence. For example, you could Geo-Fence a neighborhood, an event, business locations, even competitor locations. It uses a device’s global positioning system (GPS) or Internet Protocol (IP) address. Ads can be served on computer, tablet, or mobile devices as potential customers are browsing the web. Most people when they are referring to Geo-Fencing are looking for a very tight radius around a location. A misconception with Geo-Fencing is that once inside the fence you receive push notifications, or text messages to the device, which is not accurate. What Geo-Fencing does instead is show ads to the person inside the Geo-Fenced radius, if they are browsing websites or on apps that have ad inventory available.

Geo-Retargeting or Geo-Framing:  This tactic is just done on mobile devices and is a method of capturing mobile device IDs of users who have entered a defined geographic location (Geo-Fence), AND targeting them with ads after they have left the Geo-Fenced area, even if they never saw your ad while inside the Geo-Fence. For example, let’s say you are trying to reach homeowners. You could Geo-Fence a Home Expo Showcase and try to show those people ads during the event. However, many may not be actively browsing on their phones while there. Geo-Retargeting (Geo-Farming) enables you to reach those people after the event, by continuing to target them while they are at home or at work.

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Geo-Retargeting Lookalike:  With this tactic you can take your Geo-Retargeting a step further. In addition to following people after they leave the area you were Geo-Fencing and targeting them with ads, you can target those people’s neighbors and show them your ads as well. This is a great way to extend your message to people who are similar to those you were initially targeting.

How does Geo-Framing technology work?

Geo-Framing technology allow us to go back in time to previous events where we have captured people’s mobile Unique Device ID’s, map those Unique Device ID’s to their homes, and show those people ads now, across all devices.  It combines the best of aspects of Geo-Fencing and Household IP Targeting.

How does it work?

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If the event you are interested in targeting has already happened, but you still want to target those people, Geo-Framing comes to the rescue! As long as it is an event where Unique Device ID’s have been captured, it can be an event that happened up to 6 months ago! All you have to do is tell us the address where the event took place and the dates. We then let you know how many matches we have, and you can begin targeting those people.

How might a business use this type of technology? Maybe you want to target people who attended a home show, a sporting event, a fair, a concert, a convention – all of which took place months ago – no problem! Or maybe you want to target people who went to a shopping center on Black Friday and show them your ad – no problem!

How can we go back in time to target people from an event that already happened? We go through a four-step process to do Geo-Framing:

Who = Capturing unique device IDs. 

Where = Geographical coordinates (latitude & longitude) of that device.

When = A time stamp of when that device ID was captured.

Verify = Once verified and mapped to the household, your ad is shown on all devices – not just the mobile phone!

This is different from the other “geo” products so let’s review:

Geo-Fencing: Drawing a virtual fence around an area or location and showing your ad, to people inside that “fence.”

Geo-Retargeting:  Following people AFTER they leave the geo-fenced location and continuing to show them your ads.

Geo-Retargeting Lookalike:  Following people AFTER they leave the geo-fenced location and continuing to show them your ads as well as showing their neighbors your ads.

Geo-Framing:  To go back in time to previous events where we have captured people’s mobile Unique Device ID’s, map those Unique Device ID’s to their homes, and show those people ads now through the Household IP technology on all devices.

Geo-Fencing vs Geo-Targeting: What's the difference?

Digital jargon can be pretty confusing at times.  Many words can have different meanings and it’s important to dig further into their true definitions.  For example, keyword targeting could mean Pay-Per-Click, organic keyword display, or can even mean targeting keywords on your website to increase a websites SEO value.  See what I mean? Confusing!

Most often confused? GEOs!  I often hear the terms geo-fencing and geo-targeting used interchangeably but they are not the same product and should be used differently in digital marketing campaigns.  Let’s first start with their true definitions.

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Geo-Fencing refers to drawing a virtual barrier around a location using your devices global positioning system (GPS) or Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is just like your virtual address.  Ads inside of geo-fenced areas can be seen on computer, tablet, or mobile devices as potential customers are browsing the web.  Technically, geo-fencing can be any size radius from a particular location, anywhere from a mile to state-wide.  But most people when they are referring to geo-fencing are looking for a very tight radius around a location.   A misconception with geo-fencing is that once inside the fence you receive push notifications, or text messages to the device, which is not accurate.   What geo-fencing does instead is show ads to the person inside the geo-fenced radius if they are browsing the web, to alert them of a local deal or the distance you are from a particular store location.

So how is geo-targeting different? Geo-targeting refers to delivering ads to people meeting a specific targeting criteria and who enter inside of a defined radius using the same geo-fencing location technology. The key difference is geo-targeting hones in on specific consumer targeting criteria like demographics, behaviors, interests, as well as where the person is located.  You often need bigger geos to do this since you are not showing the ads to EVERYONE inside the geo-fence, they must also meet the targeting criteria.

Both geo-fencing and geo-targeting can be done on mobile, tablet, computer, or even gaming devices with internet access.  When it comes to deciding which is best for your marketing, think of who your target customer is. If you are interested in advertising to a population of all ages and all interests, geo-fencing is perfect for you. If you are only interested in hitting only a specific consumer demographic that is more niche, then you should be doing geo-targeting.

Mobile Marketing: Some must-know terms and how to use them

If you’re deciding to run a mobile-only marketing campaign you’re following a popular trend of many advertisers.  Attention is the currency of marketing.  Smartphones garner a lot of our attention and people spend a lot of time on the internet on their phones.  Earlier this year comScore broke down the highest users of mobile internet minutes in the world and Americans are not the only ones glued to their phones:

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When planning a mobile campaign, the buying terms can often sound so similar it can confuse even the savviest marketer.  Here is a guide to know what types of mobile targeting are out there, and how they work:

  • Geo-Fencing is when you target people in real time while at a competitor’s or specific locations or brand name businesses and try to serve them the client’s ads – no targeting categories added in.  This means you hit everyone in this fence regardless of age, gender, income level, etc.   When doing this at a competitor’s location is can also be called Geo-Conquesting although it is the same as a geo-fence. 
  • Geo-Retargeting is when you target people who have been to a location you specify (i.e. a competitor’s location, an event, etc.) and serve them the client’s ads. We can geo-retarget people from ANY Location Category or Brand Category, or from any location you provide an address to.
  • Geo-Retargeting Lookalike is when we target people who are in the same areas/neighborhoods as people you are geo-retargeting. In other words, they are similar to the people being geo-retargeted. 
  • Behavioral Targeting is targeting people who have recently shown a certain behavior or are in a certain type of demographic in the last 30-90 days (i.e., Clothing & Retail Chain Shopper, College Student, Coupon Users, Expectant moms, In-market for Credit Card, Live sports fan, African-American).  There are thousands of behaviors in this category.  This can also be called Geo-Targeting, or targeting people in a certain area based on their past online behaviors. 
  • Location Targeting is targeting people who have recently been to a certain location or type of business or event in the last 30-90 days (i.e., Universities & Colleges, Shopping Centers & Malls, German Restaurants, Bachelors Degree, Certificate/Vocational Schools, New Cars Automobile Dealers, Kia New Car Dealers, Automobile Repairing & Service, Christian Churches, Pain Management, Beauty Salons, Casino, Music and Live Entertainment).  People in these categories can be Geo-Retargeted too (see above). There are thousands of locations in this category. 
  • Brand Targeting is showing ads to people who have recently been to a particular brand name store that we have in our database (i.e., McDonald’s, CVS, Target, Walgreens, Home Depot, Starbucks, Walmart, Lowe’s, Subway, Shell, 7-Eleven, Chick-fil-A, Best Buy, Kroger, Costco). People in these categories can be Geo-Retargeted too (see above).  There are thousands of brands in this category.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about mobile marketing, but knowing these terms will help you formulate a solid plan.  And right before you hit GO on your mobile marketing plan, take one last look at your website and make sure it’s mobile friendly.  After all, the best mobile marketing campaign will fall down if the customer has trouble using your website on their phone.