After watching the idea of geo-fencing swirl around our regional market in the Northwest for the past couple of years, it is exciting to see it is finally within reach of even the most modest small and medium sized businesses (SMB). C2 Connections added mobile geo-fencing to its product line in June, and the response has been promising to say the least.

Geo-fencing works by capturing mobile users' GPS locations, and then leveraging that data – and other information - to serve timely and relevant content to individuals who match the specified requirements.

It sounds technical, and it is. But this is how it works in a nutshell.

Smartphone users download and use a variety apps that require their device's location services to be turned on. Most users do, indeed, leave those services on, even if they don't realize it. If you use your phone's weather, mapping or social media apps, you probably have location services turned on. That service constantly transmits your latitude and longitude information – information that can be used by your apps, but can also be leveraged by marketers.
How do you think your Andriod device knows where you parked? Or what the temperature is where you are? If you look at the properties of the photos you take with your phone – yeah, chances are they have GPS coordinates attached to them. Now, just think for a minute how valuable that information might be to advertisers.

Yeah, really valuable.

Imagine you are a car dealer who wants to advertise to people in the market to buy a car. The customer takes the time – after researching what they want on the internet – to come down to your lot. Because they have been on your lot, and their mobile device has transmitted their GPS location to the world, geo-fencing can serve them one of your ads that reminds them of your brand – for 30 days! Can you imagine a situation in which that potential customer goes to movie that night, and while waiting in line reads the reviews on their phone which includes an ad for your business? Pretty cool, right?
Now, it's possible – even likely – that your customer will visit other lots to look at cars, too. Geo-fencing can help you target them again. Simply set up your campaign with coordinates of your competitors, and you can serve ads to people looking at cars on lots all over town. You can expand on that idea even further by identifying the GPS coordinates of the places your target customers would likely be: shopping malls, sports venues, certain neighborhoods – the ideas are limitless and work for a variety of categories.

Are you a little creeped out? I understand. But consider this: you're going to see a variety of ads on your mobile device anyway. Shouldn't they at least be SOMEWHAT relevant to what you want to see, do or buy?
Here are some things to remember when setting up a geo-fencing ad campaign:

  • Geo-fencing is one of many tactics to reach prospects in the market to buy your product or service. Do not discount the value of Search Retargeting, Site Retargeting, and Contextual Targeting. In most cases, all tactics work together within a campaign to get the best results.
  • Get creative when thinking about which locations to geo-fence, but don't go overboard. Think of where your typical customer would be. If you are trying to reach golfers, geo-fence the golf courses in the region, but also think about where golfers spend their time when they aren't golfing: exclusive clubs, certain neighborhoods, dentist offices (I jest.... sort of; I'm friends with a handful of golfers).
  • It almost goes without saying, but geo-fencing serves ads on mobile devices, not desktops. Geo-fencing doesn't use IP information to determine a viewer's location, it uses GPS coordinates. To reach desktop viewers in a certain location, it's best to include a variety of other tactics that take IP location into consideration (i.e. search retargeting, contextual targeting).

What about the people who turn off their device's location services? The reality is, some people do, in fact, turn location services off. If they do, however, they cannot enjoy the features that smartphone users everywhere have come to know and use – and enjoy!

Geo-fencing is an exciting tool now available to SMBs in local markets, where it used to be a tactic reserved only to the big brands with tens of thousands of dollars to spend. At C2 Connections, we are excited to be able to offer this effective advertising tool to our customers.

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