Musings About Geofilters for Targeting

A colleague recently asked me “what are some things to keep in mind with geo-targeting?”  It’s a good question and I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Geo-targeting refers to the practice of modifying the experience, specifically the content, offers, and related functionality of a web site or app, a marketer provides a person based on the person’s location.

Geo-targeting is most often used in the context of advertising (e.g. display and search) but the same concepts are employed in apps and messaging as well.

For example, the behavior of a Walmart or Target application will change depending on if someone is in or out of a store, they may even tailor the experience to a specific store.  Or, in the case of messaging, the timing, mode (email versus in-app push or SMS) and content of the message may be varied based on a person’s location.

Geo-targeting can be used to target local customers through paid (PPC) or organic search.

First, one can target specific location types, like grocery in the case of CPG marketing or high schools in the case of Secret’s program, in order to focus a marketing effort.  But location types alone is a fairly gross view of geo-filters.

For instance, not all location types are the same.  We know from shopper marketing research that consumer personas vary by store type and store location. We know consumer and shopper behavior varies across the store brands like Safeway, Target, Walmart, and Kroeger and across specific locations like Northern or Southern California, Texas, New York or Alabama.

Leading CPG marketers, therefore, in order to increase the effectiveness of their digital and physical marketing efforts, will adjust the content, messaging, call-to-action of their marketing to align with each location, while still staying true to the brand equity. The same logic, I suspect, would be true for high schools.

Moreover, as Marshall McLuhan explained in the 60s, “the medium is the message,” meaning the medium may affect the messages and how it is received.  In addition, Social and mobile has taught us that context matters when it comes to program effectiveness, to this end other context attributes, like medium, content, mode, timing, demographics,  should be considered along with geo-filters.  

Take the medium, for example, the mediums of Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter to get the message out matters, audiences vary by the medium as do the social norms and expectations of the medium globally, nationally and regionally.  Also, each medium may support different messaging formats (text, images, audio, video) and formats may affect the message.  Finally, other attributes to consider beyond location and medium include gender, age, race, time, mode, current and past online behavior, the message call-to-action and more.  

Image by digital designer from Pixabay

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