Editor’s Note: The following post was originally published on April 23rd, 2021, but has been updated to reflect the continuously evolving modern marketing landscape.
When people go to specific locations, they’re telling us something. In some cases, they’re telling us where they work, what they want to buy, or even what they want to eat. If they go to a concert, they’re probably telling us that they like the band. If they go to a conference about digital advertising, they’re telling us that they’re interested in learning, using, or selling something related to digital advertising.
The information may be incomplete, but we can still draw basic conclusions based on someone’s presence in a location.
As marketers, we can use this information for advertising purposes, but we’re not just talking about outdoor ads, point-of-sale displays, or good old-fashioned street-corner sandwich boards. We’re talking about using the unique audience-targeting power of geoframing campaigns.
But, what exactly is geoframing, and how can you use it to reach your audiences through digital advertising?
To properly explain geoframing, we need to define a few related terms often used interchangeably within digital advertising.
Unfortunately, if you research these terms online, you’re likely to find contradictory information from industry sources and programmatic advertising providers. 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.
Most marketers with some amount of digital 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, advertisers can set a campaign 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.
Advertisers can also use geotargeting options to exclude specific locations. By doing so, they ensure 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.
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 create a virtual boundary. This “fence” 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 type.
Using this type of location targeting, Burger King built its “Whopper Detour” campaign. This campaign served ads 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 is a digital advertising targeting tactic that uses mobile device location data to build an audience known to have been in a specific area within a certain timeframe or date range so advertisers can target these potential customers after the fact.
Geoframing is also sometimes called georetargeting.
Geofencing and geoframing both offer precise location targeting. Unlike geofencing, though, geoframing technology capitalizes on this data to target an audience after they’ve left a location. For this reason, marketers sometimes refer to geoframing as georetargeting*.
In other words, advertisers should use geofencing when they want to target people while they’re at a location. And, they should use geoframing when they want to connect with audiences after the audience has left a location.
We should note, however, that some programmatic providers blend these tactics into a single offering. In some cases, they just put everything together under a “geofencing” label.
(*WRITER’S NOTE: I know. I know. We already confuse geoframing with geofencing, and now you’re telling us about georetargeting?! Why can’t everyone make up their minds? Just between us, georetargeting is a much better name for this particular tactic. It’s a more descriptive name, and geoframing and geofencing sound too similar. Unfortunately, the digital marketing community doesn’t seem to agree—at least not yet—so here we are.)
The knowledge that an individual was present at a physical location at a specific time empowers advertisers with valuable insights that can be used to drive B2C and B2B campaigns.
Geoframing has a unique ability to zero in on people who have visited brick-and-mortar locations. As a result, it’s obviously a powerful tool for advertisers trying to connect with consumer audiences.
Geoframing tactics aren’t just for consumer-focused campaigns. B2B marketing teams can use these campaigns to target office locations and in-person events.
Geoframing offers unique audience targeting capabilities, which potentially makes it a worthwhile addition to your advertising mix. As with any other approach, however, marketers must determine what they’re trying to achieve with their digital marketing ecosystem 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. You don’t want to create a campaign that doesn’t get enough impressions because the targeting is too narrow. And, you don’t want to waste ad spend because your targeting is too broad.
If you’d like help navigating the innovative but sometimes confusing world of location-based digital advertising, reach out. Let us know what you’re trying to accomplish for your business.
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