What Is Geoframing, and How Is It Different From Geofencing?

This may seem like a strange idea after more than a full year of a global pandemic, but, believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago when people used to go to restaurants, stores, schools, offices … some of you probably even went to the occasional concert or sporting event. 

Fortunately, as we seem to be getting a better handle on COVID-19, people are starting to gather at these places, again. Restrictions are gradually being lifted, businesses are reopening, and long-postponed events are finally taking place. 

For marketers, these gatherings present an opportunity to once again tap into the unique audience targeting power of geoframing. But, what exactly is geoframing, and how can it be used to reach your business’s audiences through digital advertising?

Location-Based Targeting Tactics

To properly explain geoframing, we need to define a few related terms that are often used interchangeably within digital advertising. 

Unfortunately, if you research these terms online, you’re likely to find a significant amount of information from industry sources and programmatic advertising providers that is, at best, confusing, and, at worst, contradictory. In fact, marketers can’t even decide how to spell geoframing. Is it geoframing? Geo-framing? GeoFraming? Geofarming?

With all of this in mind, we’ll try to keep things relatively simple.

Geotargeting

Most marketers with some amount of digital advertising experience are probably familiar with the basic concept of geotargeting. 

In simplest terms, geotargeting is a method used by advertisers to determine who should view an ad based on their geographic location. For example, a digital ad campaign can be set to only appear to people within a specified state, city, zip code, or other location designation. 

Geotargeting is a method used by advertisers to determine who should view an ad based on their geographic location.

Geotargeting options can also be used to exclude specific locations, ensuring that ads will not be delivered in places that don’t make sense for the advertiser.

Most digital advertising campaigns utilize some form of geotargeting capabilities.

Geofencing

Geofencing is a more granular form of location-based targeting that delivers messages or promotions to people within a precise geographic area (inside the “fence”). This type of targeting is usually hyperlocal—a neighborhood, a building, a store, or an event location.

Geofencing works by using GPS or RFID technology to establish a virtual boundary, which is then used to trigger a notification or an ad when a user’s device enters (or exits) the area. 

Despite what you may read elsewhere, there are different variations of geofencing. Some variations require a hard user opt-in, and others don’t. It depends on the specific provider and campaign configuration. 

Using this type of location targeting, Burger King built its “Whopper Detour” campaign, which served up a special promotion to users within close proximity to McDonald’s locations to redirect them back to Burger King. 

Retailers also use this type of targeting to alert customers when they are near a store’s brick-and-mortar location. 

The key to geofencing is capitalizing on an individual’s location in real-time to promote something relevant to the individual at that moment.

Which leads us to geoframing.

Geoframing

Geoframing is a digital advertising targeting tactic that uses mobile device location data to build an audience known to have been at a specific location within a certain timeframe so advertisers can target them after the fact. 

Geoframing is also sometimes called georetargeting.

Geofencing and geoframing both offer precise location targeting capabilities, but, unlike geofencing, geoframing capitalizes on this data to target an audience after they’ve left a location. For this reason, geoframing is also sometimes called georetargeting*. 

In other words, advertisers should use geofencing when they want to connect with audiences in real-time while the audience is at a location, and advertisers should use geoframing when they want to connect with audiences by using historical data after the audience has left a location. 

It should be noted, however, that some programmatic providers blend these tactics into a single offering, and, in some cases, they just put everything together under a “geofencing” label.

(*WRITER’S NOTE: I know. I know. Geoframing is already confused with geofencing, and now you’re telling us that it’s also called georetargeting?! Why can’t marketers make up their minds? Just between us, georetargeting is a much better name for this particular tactic since it better describes what it does and because geoframing and geofencing sound too similar. Unfortunately, the digital marketing community doesn’t seem to agree—at least not yet—so here we are.)

Geoframing Campaign Examples

The knowledge that an individual was present at a physical location during a certain period of time empowers advertisers with valuable insights that can be used to drive B2C and B2B campaigns.

B2C Ad Campaign Variations

Given geoframing’s unique ability to zero in on people who have visited brick-and-mortar locations, it’s obviously a powerful tool for advertisers trying to connect with consumer audiences.

  • Related Interests: If you know your customers’ unique interests are likely to bring them to certain stores, events, or locations, you can set up a geoframing campaign and advertise to anyone who has recently visited those locations. For example, a store that sells golf equipment could target anyone who has visited nearby golf courses, or an antique store could target individuals who have visited a recent weekend antique fair.
  • Competitor Campaigns: If you had the chance to talk to someone who had recently been at your competitor’s location, could you make them a better offer or convince them to visit your business, instead? Using geoframing, car dealerships can advertise to prospective customers knowing that these people may already be looking for a new vehicle since they’ve recently been at competitor locations.
  • Customer Loyalty: What about your own location? Whether you run a restaurant, a retail store, or something else, the only thing better than a customer is a repeat customer. Geoframing campaigns can be used to advertise to anyone who visited your location in order to up-sell or simply build loyalty.

B2B Ad Campaign Variations

Geoframing tactics aren’t just for consumer-focused campaigns, though, especially now that people are starting to go back to offices and in-person events.

  • Events and Tradeshows: For many B2B marketers, industry-specific events, conferences, and tradeshows provide a valuable opportunity to build awareness among prospective clients and customers. With geoframing, organizations can build an audience of all event attendees to continue marketing efforts after everyone has gone home. Most geoframing providers also provide historical look-back windows of varying lengths, which enable marketers to go back in time and target events that have already occurred. 
  • Account-Based Marketing: Does your business use an account-based marketing approach? If so, geoframing can be implemented to deliver ads to individuals who’ve spent time in the headquarters or other office locations of your target accounts. Because these campaigns are location- and account-specific, the ads, themselves, can be tailored with precise messaging and creative that will resonate with your target audience.

Getting Started With Geoframing

Geoframing offers unique audience targeting capabilities, which potentially makes it a worthwhile addition to your advertising mix. As with any other marketing approach, however, it’s critical to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve before getting started. 

Are you trying to increase awareness of your brand? Build loyalty? Support sales efforts? Answering these questions will help you develop a campaign that aligns with the goals of your business.

You also need to understand the technical considerations of this type of targeting so you don’t create a campaign that doesn’t get enough impressions because the targeting is too narrow,  or that wastes ad spend because the targeting is too broad.

If you’d like help navigating the innovative but sometimes confusing world of location-based digital advertising, reach out and let us know what you’re trying to accomplish for your business.