There's no question that the geography of a particular person has put them into a specific bucket related to a brand's digital marketing strategy.

The two most common uses of a user's geographic location on their particular device (desktop including mobile) are:

  1. Geolocation-based ads (Geo-Targeting)
  2. GeoFencing-based ads/offers

To a user/customer, they probably feel pretty similar.

You're in a specific location, and because you are, and you have location services enabled on your device (again, can be phone or desktop or tablet - or even watch or gaming console now - anything with an internet connection), you qualify to receive a message from a particular brand who is doing one of these two kinds of marketing.

As a marketer, I can see now how easy it is to kind of get the two mixed up, however.

The first is tactically implemented VERY differently from the second one.

The first is deployed through dynamic digital ad products like Facebook Ads / Instagram Ads, which I write about and talk about A LOT. It also includes Google Ads, Smart Campaigns (previously known as Google Adwords Express), LinkedIn Ads, WAZE, etc. Basically, there's a suite of companies that allow you to deploy your branded message on their platform to a group of users in a specific geographic area. THIS is Geo-Targeting, or location-based digital advertising.

This can be done by simply learning how to use these platforms, creating a free profile and getting started.

The second one, GeoFencing, however, is very different, and requires a totally different type of technology in order to deploy it to users.

GeoFencing is actually the act of pushing content via push notifications on a native mobile app based on where a user is geographically at a certain point in time.This is done through the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. In short, this means that your application (likely on a mobile phone), has to integrate with a GPS or RFID service. GeoFencing is far more advanced, complicated and costly.

Both are super effective means of digital marketing, because of their relevancy to the user, as well as the full visibility of data and results to the marketer.

GeoTargeting is pretty darn easy.

Email me at with any questions.

Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!


Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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