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What Is Geotargeting: 4 Tips to Target Your Audience

July 26, 2019

Targeted marketing and advertising has helped companies like Apple and Amazon in more ways than we can count.

Instead of being forced to travel overseas to tell people about their products and services, giants like these can advertise to the world with the click of a button.

It’s expensive and incredible, but it’s not for everyone.

Not every business can afford to spend hundreds of thousands on global advertising. What about the small business that doesn’t have the ability to ship its goods worldwide or to every doorstep in the state?

The money they spend on those advertisements would be going to waste.

Thank goodness for geotargeting.

Defining and understanding geotargeting

Geotargeting is one of the many ways that advertisers can make sure their efforts (and money) don’t go to waste.

Why would you want to let somebody in Texas know about a new store opening in South Africa?

If you’re looking for new customers but unable to ship globally, are having a sale in a specific region, or hiring employees for your new location, geotargeting is for you. Geotargeting can be implemented in most search advertising software so that you can advertise on search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing in specific locations.

See the Highest-Rated Search Advertising Software, Free →

Geotargeting in Google Ads

Google Ads, a popular paid search advertising platform, offers a variety of options for geotargeting so that you can reach your target audience no matter where they are. There are two options for how you can choose to target:

Radius around your business. If you’re looking to get more foot traffic into your brick-and-mortar store, setting a radius around your spot will send ads to locals who may not have even known your store was there. Google asks for your business address and lets you set a radius from 3 to 40 miles.

geotarget radius


Set up specific areas. If you’re looking to advertise to more than one area, Google Ads lets you target far and wide. You can specify by zip code, city, state, and country. If your business wants to market to the entire country of Mexico, the state of Rhode Island, and ZIP 60601, you can.

multiple location geotargeting

Google Ads will also let you know the estimated size of your audience per month. Here’s the audience estimate for Mexico, Rhode Island, and ZIP 60601.

geotargeting audience
NOTE: Learn more about why the audience size doesn’t affect your cost with paid search advertising.

Geotargeting vs geofencing

You may have heard of the term “geofencing” and be curious about the difference between the two terms. Here it is:

Geofencing involves drawing a barrier around a specific location or multiple locations using IP addresses. Anyone within that “fence” can see that advertisement on any device. Geofencing is great to use if you’re advertising to a specific group of people that are all already in that location such as a university advertising a new job posting or a football stadium advertising a deal on tickets. Geofencing doesn’t stop at paid search; even Snapchat filters can incorporate it. In summary, it’s extremely specific to location and vague when it comes to who is in that location.

Geotargeting delivers ads within a geographic barrier (or multiple barriers) along with other market segmentation techniques such as demographics like behaviors, and interests. Geotargeting works better for locations larger than football fields or universities because the advertisements can be further specified by demographics, keywords, and additional filters. In summary it’s specific to both location and the people within that location.

Geotargeting tips

Just like getting a new board game, you don’t have to read the instructions. But if you want to play the game the right way, it might be best to take a little advice.

Tip 1: Use relevant language

There’s everyday language that changes from state to state and country to country. Do some research on regional dialect and make sure that the language you use in your geotargeted ads matches up with the location they’re being targeted towards.

Does the area you’re advertising a fizzy drink to call it “pop” or “soda”?

TIP: Have a little fun with this! If you’re advertising to younger groups, look at some of the slang that’s popular and see if you can smoothly incorporate it into your ads. Do this cautiously; if it looks forced, your business may never hear the end of it.

Tip 2: Fence wisely

Setting up boundaries near your location is a great start. It makes the most sense to let people nearby know that you’re just around the corner. But like most advertising techniques, you could probably get a little more creative with it. Whole Foods doesn’t use geofencing. It uses geo-conquesting.

Yes, it’s a real term, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Whole Foods purposely fences themselves around their competitors so that shoppers at other grocery stores receive ads for better deals as they’re shopping elsewhere.

Scary and genius.

Tip 3: Exclude irrelevant areas

Not only is it important to choose the right locations, but it’s just as important to exclude the wrong ones. Your ad should be shown to an audience that you know will have an interest, and it will save you both the time and money it would take to explain your mistake when someone tries to order something to a place you don’t deliver to. If people don’t have access to your products, don’t wave your ads in their faces.

Tip 4: Call it out

When it’s possible, experiment with using the name of the location you’re targeting in your ad copy. If people see they’re familiar with (the city they live in) on what is otherwise a generic search results page, it’ll stand out. People who are traveling will often use search engines to search for a business along with the name of the city they’re in. Therefore, targeting the phrase “coffee shop Naperville” is more effective than simply “coffee shop.”

This is nothing new

Targeting your market is old news. If you’re using geotargeting, work to take a more creative spin on it. If you’re not taking advantage of geotargeting at all, it’s not too late to start.

Look no further for even more advertising techniques.

What Is Geotargeting: 4 Tips to Target Your Audience Geotargeting is nothing new, but there are always new ways to think about targeting your audience. Learn more about how geotargeting works and what you can do to use it effectively.
Daniella Alscher Daniella Alscher is a Brand Designer for G2. When she's not reading or writing, she's spending time with her dog, watching a true crime documentary on Netflix, or trying to learn something completely new. (she/her/hers)

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