Reaching Mobile Consumers over the Geo-fence

POSTED BY Tracy Pratt - 06.16.15 -


As mobile marketing grows more sophisticated, tactics such as geo-fencing are gaining traction as a way to reach consumers based on their physical location and moment of need. With geo-fencing, we can better personalize and target marketing, reaching consumers when they might be actively shopping for a car on dealer lots or perhaps looking for a nearby pizza place after a show.

But let’s start with the basics. What is geo-fencing?

A geo-fence is a layer of intelligence applied to a geographical shape. It allows marketers to use latitude and longitude data served through the location features of mobile phones to target consumers who visit places such as a retail store, auto dealer, shopping mall, airport, business event, sports stadium or other location.

The targeting works through GPS and location apps commonly found on mobile devices. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook and Twitter (for check-ins)
  • Any health/running app that keeps track of distance. Even the native Health app on the iPhone that tracks steps uses location.
  • Most travel apps (American, Delta, Southwest, Orbitz)
  • Banking apps (for finding ATMs and local branches)
  • Streaming music apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio (ever hear/see an ad for a local business?)
  • Streaming television apps like Netflix, HBO, Xfinity or U-verse on the go
  • Redbox (to find Redbox locations nearby)
  • Sports apps (ESPN, Yahoo Sports, local high school sports)

How is mobile geo-fencing different from mobile geo-targeting? Geo-fencing is intent-driven and provides more precise geo-targeting. It delivers advertising to people who have expressed an intention to purchase by stepping inside a fenced location. It doesn’t matter what topics they’ve previously expressed interest in during their internet use. Advertising relevant to the fence then follows them on the internet for up to 30 days.  Geo-targeting is a little broader in reach in that it delivers to a radius around an address, city or zip code. Additional targeting is typically based on predetermined interest categories or search terms.

An auto dealer, for example, is not going to want to waste valuable mobile ad impressions on users a mile or two in any direction of his or her campus if the user is not in the market for a new or used car. However, serving ads to someone who has actually visited a car dealer or a competitive dealer within the last 30 days reaches a more relevant consumer.

Connecting mobile devices to a brick-and-mortar experience is an effective form of marketing. Research released in May 2015 highlights the continuously growing influence of mobile devices on in-store sales. According to data discussed by eMarketer, the use of mobile devices before or during in-store shopping trips influenced or helped to convert 28% of total sales in 2014.

Other research points to high consumer usage of mobile once in-store. In a March 2015 study, 85% of smartphone owners worldwide said they used a smartphone while shopping in a brick-and-mortar – up from 72 percent in 2014.

So what are some ideal businesses for geo-fencing?

  • Brick-and-mortar locations such as restaurants, retailers, auto services.
  • Travel locations such as airports, truck stops and bus stops.
  • District-specific entities such as political parties, political candidates, municipalities, counties, civic groups.
  • Venue-based entities such as sports arenas, concert halls, convention centers, colleges.

As our dependence on mobile devices continues to grow, so will marketing campaigns that include geo-precise targeting as part of the marketing mix. Want to learn more?  Contact Fusionfarm to discuss a campaign.

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Tracy Pratt

Tracy Pratt

Tracy Pratt is the SEO/SEM/Targeted Display Product Manager at Fusionfarm. She believes good digital marketing should be like shopping with a friend – personal, comfortable and immersive. When she’s not thinking about the future of marketing, she’s out having fun with her family.

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