Geo-Fencing vs. Geo-Targeting: What’s the Difference?

When we discuss different marketing strategies employed by a company to reach potential customers, it’s easy to get lost in some pretty industry-specific jargon. Unless you’ve got a degree in digital marketing and advertising or have studied it extensively

Geo-Fencing vs. Geo-Targeting: What’s the Difference?

When we discuss different marketing strategies employed by a company to reach potential customers, it’s easy to get lost in some pretty industry-specific jargon.

Unless you’ve got a degree in digital marketing and advertising or have studied it extensively, you can end up feeling confused, frustrated, and potentially unsure of the marketing strategies which you are employing to reach your target audience.

At AdQuick, we want our clients to understand different marketing campaigns, tools, and methods.

We believe you shouldn’t have to spend your advertising budget on something you don’t understand.

As such, two terms that often illicit confusion for a client are geo-fencing and geo-targeting.

We see these terms used interchangeably when they shouldn’t be.

We also see them used to describe other location-driven marketing methods which are separate and different.

In this article, we’ll explain them both and highlight the differences between each marketing strategy.

We will also explain how both methods of marketing are used in out of home advertising.

What Is Geo-Fencing?

Say you own a pizza parlor very close to a college campus. You expect the majority of your business will come from students entering and exiting the campus, and as such you wish to focus your advertising efforts toward those students.

In fact, your specific targeting criteria offers discounts for students of the college and offers daily specials during peak campus hours.

How can you effectively market to the specific audience of students on campus?

A great way to accomplish this would be through geo-fencing.

Geo-fencing refers to setting up a virtual barrier around a particular area in which you want to show ads.

This is done by marking off IP addresses and uses GPS points.

Online advertising would use this method to set up a perimeter around the college campus.

Anytime someone entered the campus with a device capable of receiving an advertisement, they would receive one for your pizza parlor.

This is a great way to reach an intended audience and provide them content that is relevant and timely.

When your advertisements are relevant and timely, your sales improve; this is marketing 101.

What Is Geo-Targeting?

Like geo-fencing, geo-targeting advertises to consumers in a specific location.

In fact, geo-targeting relies upon geo-fencing technology to produce a perimeter in which specific consumers will see advertisements.

The keyword here is “specific” consumers.

Where geo-fencing delivers advertisements to all consumers within the geo-fenced area, geo-targeting delivers advertisements to consumers within the geo-fenced area who meet additional criteria.

Keeping with our example above, let’s say your pizza parlor has recently introduced a vegan option.

You decide to use the same geo-fencing technology to deliver ads to the students on the college campus, however now you want to advertise your vegan pizza only to students who may have an interest in trying it (i.e. students who are vegan, who are vegetarian, who are dieting, etc.).

Geo-targeting would allow you to set behavioral parameters that deliver advertisements only to consumers who’s behavioral habits and interests to include those commonly attributed to vegans.

This means that within your geo-fenced area (the college campus), only consumers who are likely vegan or are interested in vegan food would receive advertisements for your vegan pizza option.

Geo-targeting allows you to laser-focus your ad campaign to specific consumers with whom your advertisements will better resonate.

How Are These Technologies Used in Out of Home Advertising?

It’s obvious how geo-fencing and geo-targeting can be used to deliver relevant ad content via mobile devices, but how can these technologies be implemented in out of home advertising?

One way is by creating a geo-fence around an out of home advertisement, such as a digital billboard. By creating that perimeter, an advertiser can control certain aspects of their ad delivery.

For instance, their ad may only appear when cars are stopped at a traffic light with a clear view of the establishment for which the media is advertising.

An advertiser could also overlap their efforts by serving ads to every available device that travels inside the geo-fenced area.

An example of this could be seeing a digital billboard advertisement for a fast-food menu item and instantly receive a notification through the GPS app on your mobile device that the restaurant is nearby and there is a re-route available to get you there.

Advertisers can also control when this content is delivered (i.e. during lunch or dinner hours).

Consumers respond positively to these types of marketing efforts because the content is useful.

The most effective way for an out of home advertisement to use geos is to engage in geo-targeting using a geo-fencing system.

This means the advertiser sets a geo-fence perimeter, and then selectively targets specific consumers within that perimeter.

You’ve probably witnessed this type of marketing first hand.

If you’ve ever driven past a billboard or freeway sign that communicated a message directly to you (“hello black Kia driver”), you’ve been geo-targeted.

Geo-targeting from inside a set perimeter is also a great way for advertisers to overlap technologies.

A company may pay for a digital billboard but also use geo-fencing and geo-targeting to re-market their ads to the devices of specific users who come into the geo-fenced perimeter.

This is not only a great way to deliver more brand awareness, but it allows an advertiser to better track sale conversion.

Another example of geo-fencing being used in out of home advertising is how it can be used in somewhat of a reverse method.

This is true with technologies such as mobile billboards.

An advertiser can set up a perimeter around a mobile billboard that follows it as it travels. This is known as shadow-fencing.

As the mobile billboard travels around, the geo-fence perimeter follows it and delivers additional advertisements to devices it finds within the fence.

Some fences can even offer a “trailing” feature, which can serve ads to consumers up to five minutes after the mobile billboard has passed them.

This kind of integrated technology is an excellent way to engage consumers.

There’s a real “wow” factor with geo-targeting in the out of home advertising realm; when consumers feel personally engaged by something that once seemed so very public, they’re more likely to not only respond to the marketing attempt with a purchase or inquiry, they are very likely to do more of the marketing work for you.

In other words, they will spread the word about the advertisement to friends and family, thus bringing about brand awareness and familiarity.

What Are the Benefits of Geo-Fencing and Geo-Targeting in Out of Home Advertising?

The benefits of using geo-fencing and geo-targeting are immeasurable.

First and foremost, there are limitless ways to create a geo-fence.

You can create one as small as a mile radius from a point to something as large as nationwide.

This means an out of home advertiser could generate a perimeter around a billboard that is either limited to extremely localized or reaches a very broad audience.

This allows advertisers to present consumers with the right advertisements, at the right location, at the right time.

It also allows them the opportunity to market to a more specific consumer based on geo-targeting parameters they set that determine who certain ads are delivered to and who they are not.

The ability to partner their out of home advertisements with mobile advertisements and pings creates better brand familiarity and awareness.

The fact that a consumer is presented with advertisements when they enter a specific geo-fenced area and are targeted specifically with advertisements they will find useful based on their behaviors and location means that the likelihood of converting the impression to action is much higher than what could normally be expected from simple static signage or other forms of media.

Geo-fencing and geo-targeting have the ability to move out of home marketing to the next phase of exponential growth.

In fact, out of home advertising is the only form of advertising that is still growing.

Beyond the fact that out of home is the most noticeable, and arguably most engaging form of advertising available, the fact that geo-fencing and geo-targeting can now make it personal makes it the most engaging form of digital media available.

The sheer “wow” factor of an ad that can identify a consumer personally and deliver media that is personal and specific to them creates a positive brand reaction from them, and as such prompts them to tell others about the brand.

Where Can I Purchase Out of Home Advertising that Uses Geos?

You can purchase out of home advertising directly from the media owner, however that route is complicated, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and riddled with problems.

The best option is to purchase out of home advertising from a reputable media partner like AdQuick.

Using a software platform takes the hassle out of purchasing media, ensuring you get the lowest price possible and also get the media you want when you want it.

A platform like AdQuick can manage any sized campaign and can ensure you have all the most current out of home advertising technologies available to you, including geo-fencing and geo-targeting.

Take the stress out of your next major campaign. Save money and stay under budget.

Work smarter, not harder.

Allow AdQuick to handle your advertising so you have time to focus on more important aspects of your business.