The central idea behind geotargeting is that really understanding a consumer in real-time or past location helps marketers achieve the holy grail of delivering the “right message at the right time.” In a simple example, an adult customer visiting car dealerships is likely interested in buying a car, and serving a local Toyota ad to this customer will more likely to be successful.
Serving a Toyota ad to someone at (or near) a local car dealership is an example of geotargeting on a hyperlocal level. But it applies on a larger scale, too.
In the print days, taking out an ad in the newspaper allowed businesses to know that primarily local residents who could actually visit the business would see the ad in question. Not so in the era of digital ads which, if delivered indiscriminately and without location context, can be less successful because they aren’t relevant or personal. Ad creative targeted at, and customized for — females 35-45 located in St. Louis, versus a statewide campaign with no demographic parameters is likely to be more cost-effective in driving a physical sale to a women’s clothing store in St Louis.
In more sophisticated use cases, geotargeting doesn’t have to be solely based on a consumer’s real-time location. Locations or businesses a customer has visited recently can be a great predictor of interests and intent, so adding targeting based on historical location as well can be key to delivering a captivating, relevant message.
Geotargeting is a practice frequently deployed by restaurants and brick-and-mortar businesses looking to drive local foot traffic, but it isn’t exclusively used by these verticals. Even sports teams have gotten in on the action, targeting fans that are at (or have been to) a particular stadium or event in order to drive ticket sales, app downloads, and more. The applications are endless.
As brands continue to explore the possibilities of targeting users based on location, both real-time and historical, consumers will likely see more content that is truly relevant to their lives — and marketers can boost sales as a result.