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Meeting Customers Where They are w/ Geofencing

Hosts Evan Facinger and Jon Ballard discuss geo-fencing in this episode, discussing its use in targeted advertising for trade shows, competitor customer targeting, and recruitment.

Compete Locally & Target Only The Best Leads

In this episode of the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast, hosts Evan Facinger and Jon Ballard delve into the intricacies of geo-fencing, a location-based marketing tool that allows businesses to target ads to individuals entering or leaving a specific area. They clarify common misconceptions about geo-fencing, differentiating it from broader geo-targeting capabilities offered by platforms like Google Ads and Facebook. The discussion covers practical applications of geo-fencing, such as enhancing visibility at trade shows, targeting competitors' customers, and corporate recruiting. They emphasize the importance of choosing the right platform for geo-fencing, crafting compelling ad creatives, and optimizing mobile sites for conversions. The episode underscores geo-fencing's value as a cost-effective, highly targeted advertising strategy that, when integrated with a comprehensive marketing mix, can significantly boost brand recognition and campaign success.


  • 0:00 Intro
  • 1:10 What even is Geo-fencing?
  • 3:05 Tradeshow Marketing
  • 5:01 Partnering with other platforms and apps
  • 6:11 Seeing location based targeting in person
  • 6:31 Corporate Recruiting with Geo-fencing
  • 9:28 Using geo-fencing to compete locally
  • 10:59 Understanding the data collection
  • 12:02 Design ads and campaigns for mobile users
  • 14:21 Outro

Find more marketing insights and show notes here


Jon Ballard: I was seeing ads from companies that were at that tradeshow and I was like “Oh this is how that happens!” I knew how it happened technically but I had never really seen it in person.

Evan Facinger: Hey, everybody! Welcome to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast. It's me, Evan Facinger and also Jon Ballard. Jon, how's it going today?

Jon Ballard: I'm good, Evan. Thanks for having me again. It's a pleasure to be here. Excited about the topic today.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, I'm excited, too. I think it's a good topic about everybody- or at least a business that requires certain things on local locations, favorite topic. And maybe if it's not their favorite topic, it will be soon. geo-fencing. So, Jon, do you wanna start us off and tell us what we mean when we say geo-fencing.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, it's an interesting topic. And geo-fencing is kind of a generic term, right? So  I've been talking to a few clients here lately, and why I kinda wanted to cover this topic today was, I think there is a lot of misconception around what geo-fencing even is. I guess let's start with, maybe my definition of geo-fencing.  I define geo-fencing as drawing a circle or outline around a specific location and then targeting those people that are coming in and out of that location with ads, whether it's when they're there or later right. Is that how you kind of define it, Evan?

Evan Facinger: Yeah, exactly right. It's that location based marketing tool. So you can get very precise on where you want to either serve your ads when somebody enters that location or tag them afterwards.

Jon Ballard: Right. And I think, where the confusion came with the customers I was talking about was they were thinking Google ads does this. Right? But Google ads is a little different animal. With Google ads, you can definitely drill down to a city level. Or that type of thing, but you can't get as specific as your competitor’s building. So that's kind of, I think, the biggest distinction. And you can do some geo-targeting on Facebook as well. But again, I don't think it's nearly as target specific as the boundaries of a specific building. Or a city block, or something like that.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, and I think that that's a good point. Right? How specific do you want to get in your location based targeting? And why? Yeah, that's always the big thing. Is there a benefit? You mentioned around a specific building and we've had a lot of success with that, running them for trade shows around that building targeting competitors. Right? If you're looking for employees around that building. Anything else that you've seen? Maybe even not building specific, but just specific areas that are more than just anyone in the Zip code.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, I mean, it's interesting, right? I mean, if you're trying to target a Zip code, you have a little more generic product that you want to sell to everybody. Where, if you're trying to target a building, yeah, you need a really specific person you're trying to reach, maybe even just a few people in that building. Not necessarily everybody. So, like you said we've done- We had good success with geo-targeting around trade shows. Let's talk about that scenario. So a company is going to a trade show. They spend a lot of money to be there. What we can do, is we can geo-target the convention center. Right? And then we can actually target people when they're there at the convention or we can follow them home and show ads after the convention because they were in that location. So it gives you a lot of flexibility, and we've had good success with this. Not only is it inexpensive, I mean, you get a lot of impressions for a fairly low amount of money, but it also just reinforces the brand, and then you can get good clicks out of it as well. So what's your experience with trade show marketing? And what am I missing there?

Evan Facinger: Yeah, no, I think you hit a lot of it. And the big thing, too, is that it's on multiple channels. I think that's the other differentiator outside of the targeting. But when you do use geo-fencing, depending on the system that you're using, and there are a lot. Right? Whether you're going direct to the service provider, the ad platforms themselves, or using a sort of DSP for it, there's a lot of different ways that you can target them. And that could be on their mobile device. Right? It could be on their desktop or certain websites. I should say you could even take it and advertise on their TVs. So whether it's an OTT or connected TV, there's a lot of different types of targeting options for that, especially if you're going more of the route of tagging them and then showing them later which works for trade shows also. There's a lot to be said about  targeting people when they're at the area. “Hey, come by the booth. The trade show is still going on.” But what happens after that trade show? Now you still wanna get in front of those people. You still wanna have the advertising. They're inundated with a lot of messages a lot of times. A lot of different companies at those trade shows. So the more that you can follow up with them afterwards, that can help quite a bit also.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, let's talk a little bit about the technology. Right? It's not like we're able to just send them a text message because they were at the trade show. Most of the geo-targeting platforms including the ones we use and kind of sell and had good success with have relationships with different apps. So, for example, they could be at that trade show, get home, and look at the weather app. And that's where they might see the ad from the trade show. So there or on a magazine or something along that lines, magazine, website. So they're display ads, generally speaking. Is that fair to say?

Evan Facinger: Yeah. And I think you made a good reference there about using the different platforms and how they're getting targeted for it, because let's face it. If you were a large company, if you're Microsoft or Amazon, you wouldn't rely on the same types of tools. You could develop your own way to implement geo-fencing because you have your own custom app. However, when you are a small business, you wanna tap into these other networks that have these different partnerships, so that it's a lot more feasible to use on a small medium sized business scale, to run that sort of location based advertising.

Jon Ballard: This is when this really hit home for me, I was playing Candy Crush, believe it or not, and I was at a trade show in Texas, and I got home, and all of a sudden on Candy Crush, I was seeing ads from companies that were at that trade show, and I was kinda like “Oh, this is how that happens!” I knew how it happened technically, but I've never really seen it in person so kind of interesting. Let's talk a little bit more. Trade shows are obviously one aspect. The other aspect we've had good success with is corporate recruiting. Right? So take for example, you're a company that needs welders. Right? What other companies in your town have welders that you might be able to poach? Could we run geo-fencing ads around those companies and then show them ads when they get home at night for a new open position for welders, or anything along those lines. We've also done it on the corporate level like aviation. If trying to get in and talk to aviation engineers, we could, if we know where the headquarters are and where most of their aviation engineers hang out, we could show up pretty specific ads. Now the janitor is gonna wonder why he's getting an ad for some technical aviation product, but it can reach the right people if you use them that way.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, and that's one thing I found is that you don't want your ads to be shown in front of the wrong people. But you also don't want to focus too much on avoiding the wrong people that you don't get in front of the right people, especially when you look at the cost of impressions. Or if you're paying per click you only have to worry about the accidental click if that's a scenario that you have it set up at. So you don't wanna focus too much on that side of things. Clearly targeted is better but there's always gonna be a little bit that carries over. And too often, I think that people focus too much on “I don't want that janitor to see it” and that could be the case, but it's something that would derail a campaign, because if you can get in front of so many people that you do want to see it, and just the janitor happens to see it, it's a trade off there.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, there's one janitor and 50 aeronautical engineers. I'd still run my ad with the hopes that 49 of the aeronautical engineers and one janitor see it so.

Evan Facinger: Right, and when you start taking a look at targeting employees, it's interesting. Because right now, currently everybody's fighting over certain talent, and especially when you have an always on hiring process. Right? You're always looking for certain types of applicants. Running these types of campaigns, getting in front of people that you don't compete with on a business level but you do compete with on the types of hiring that you do level. It's an interesting way to approach that.

Jon Ballard: Yup, and this works really well in conjunction with other ad campaigns. Maybe have billboards, or you're running ads in the local market. It just reinforces “Oh, this place looks like a good place to work. They're really aggressive. I'm seeing them on Candy Crush for God's sake. We should really go over there and play or work.”

Evan Facinger: Yeah, I don't think it's ever just one thing. Right? It’s that holistic approach, making sure that it's seen. I mean, well, what's the stat that they used to always say that?  It's 7 touches before somebody actually sees you or recognizes you or knows that they've seen you.  It's making sure that you get those in front of people a lot more.

Jon Ballard: Yup, and I've never really seen a lower cost per impression type platform. I mean, it's really inexpensive, as far as impressions go. And you're definitely hitting the right people with the geo-fence. So, very interesting. Let's talk about some local scenarios like, let's say I'm a new restaurant in town and I have a great Friday fish fry. We're in Wisconsin, so we gotta talk fish fry. How would I use geo-fencing to get some buzz from the competitive bar down the street that has a good fish fry?

Evan Facinger: Well similar to how we were talking about with the employees, if you want to target people that are going to an establishment that is similar to yours, you're trying to gain their market share. You can advertise that way. Right? That's where you would set it up. Set it up on all the different locations that people are going to, so that you are making sure that you're building that list of people that are going to the fish fries. Right? They're going to those restaurants. Make sure that they know that you're around and being able to do that on a granular scale does help make sure that it's gonna get in front of people and the other ways that you should be advertising like we said.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, it's hyper targeted. Right? It's not just one location I can advertise to. I could draw a circle around every restaurant in town and advertise to everybody that's there on a Friday night about how great my place is. And again, like Evan said, I think it's gotta be in conjunction with other campaigns. But this is a super effective, low cost way to kinda reach out about your fish fry if you’re a new restaurant in town. So any other things we haven't covered, I mean, that's a lot about geo-fencing, anything else you want to talk about.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, I think a lot with the geo-fencing side of things is just to understand how that works. That is gonna be a little bit specific to either the company that you're choosing to run this or the platform that you're choosing to run this by. Make sure you understand how that data is collected. It isn't that they’re always on and everybody's tracking you. Well, maybe that is the case. However, for the advertising side of things, there needs to be some sort of action that they can identify that you were at that location pulling out your cell phone having GPS enabled opening one of the apps that they have a partnership with. Those are the types of things that need to happen for a lot of these platforms. So understanding what data they're using, how they're collecting that data. That's gonna help make sure that you're getting in front of people that are actually at least a high amount of people that are hitting that geo-fence area. And I think that's important because there's a lot of different tools out. There's a lot of different companies that are doing this. So making sure that you are choosing the right one there, doing your due diligence is important. The other thing I would say is don't neglect the creative. What does your ad say? Just because you can get in front of somebody, that doesn't mean that it's gonna give you results. If you don't have a good ad, if you don't have a good message, if you don't have a good reason, if you have, we'll just take your scenario of targeting welders at another company for it. If your ad just says, “Hey, it's the same thing, but different.” I don't know how many people are gonna switch. If you start pitching sign-up bonuses, things like that, give them a reason to make that switch then not only are you getting in front of them with the geo-fencing but then it's the other side where the creative and the messaging and things like that actually drive the results.

Jon Ballard: That's a great point. And the other thing is, when they get there to apply for that job, you better well have an optimized site for mobile applications. Right? And most companies don't. I've been shocked at this. You get to the site and they want you to fill out a huge application with multiple forms and a lot of information. That's just not typically practical on a cell phone. So, we've taken the approach of “Let's kind of do a pre-application.” We just get their name, some basic contact information, submit, and then get them in the door. The HR Manager can follow up and get them to fill out that ungodly, awful app when they get to your location. But if you want to see more eyeballs, don't expect them to go from their mobile phone to some non-mobile friendly, huge application they need to fill out on their phone. If you really just need to create that contact (kind of like marketing) you nurture them. You get them in. You get the basic contact information, get them in, then get them to do that application. If that's what you need when you're ready to hire them.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, exactly. And I think that marketing is a good endnote for it unless you had more to talk about the topic. This is just another way to get in front of people and there's a lot of ways to get in front of people. Now, I don't think anybody would say this should be your only way in getting in front of people, but having that right marketing, mix of getting the attention, and then being able to do the next step of fulfilling. Right? Having the right calls to action, having the right imagery, like everything, needs to work together.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, I would agree. It's a tool. It's not the only tool you need for most good campaigns. Yeah, this is a component but it's not the sole thing. So great topic, Evan. Thank you for your time today.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, thank you. And if anybody would like to learn more, or just quite honestly  make my entire week or month, I should say possibly, just make sure that you like. Subscribe to this. All of that does help us know that you are out there listening, and enjoy the topic so we could produce more.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, if you've got a topic you want us to cover as well, shoot us a note. Contact us on our website. And if you want to learn more about Geo-fencing, or you have an idea, we love talking marketing. So just to reach out. Evan and I would love to jump on a call, talk about your plan and brainstorm with you. So, have a great day, everybody!

Zach Baierl: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast. If you want to stay on top of your marketing game, make sure to like and subscribe so you never miss an episode. For more episodes, show transcripts, and marketing insights, go to foremostmedia.com