As digital advertising continues to adapt to constantly changing platform technology, we’re often introduced to the latest and greatest ways to reach the ideal customer.

But not every tactic works for every client.

Our partners at introduced geo-fencing in 2015. Since then, the product has been upgraded to include conversion zones, event targeting and more. Simpli.Fi recently noted the growth they’ve seen in geo-fencing campaigns — 75 percent growth in the number of campaigns year-over-year!

Earlier this year, we at Tru Measure incorporated more of’s specific geo-fencing data into our dashboard reporting. Our clients can see each fence listed in the dashboard, along with clicks, impressions, CTR, visits, view thrus, page views, phone calls, and more. This gives our clients a clear post-click analysis of each geo-fence that was set up.

At Tru Measure, we’ve worked on thousands of geo-fencing campaigns — some with more than 100 specific fences — and we’ve seen the phenomenal results a successful geo-fencing campaign can bring. We’ve also seen a few not work out for a variety of reasons.

I gathered together the experts — Tru Measure’s partner managers — and asked for their thoughts on what makes a successful geo-fencing campaign. The team broke it down into the five things to remember when considering adding a geo-fencing tactic to a campaign:

Location, location, location.

Where are your customers when they are thinking about your product or service, and how far are they willing to go?

Of course, this is something to think about with every type of campaign, but we’ve seen geo-fencing campaigns fall flat by targeting people at competitors who are too far away. Would you drive 45 minutes for a car wash or to go to the gym? Probably not, but it’s not uncommon to drive that far when shopping for a new car or home furnishings.

An example of a successful campaign for a family restaurant would include a geo-fence tactic that covers the nearby movie theater.

What does your audience need right now?

When a person is at a car dealership, they are likely looking to buy a car. When they are at a bowling alley, they are likely out for some family fun. What might people be looking for when staying in a bed and breakfast? Or, at a hotel near the airport?

What about targeting competitors? While this can be successful, keep in mind what it takes for a customer to make a change. While eating at a different restaurant may be an easy shift for people to make, trying out a new stylist at a different hair salon is not something most people do spur-of-the-moment.

Consider certain aspects of healthcare: Almost two years into my son’s orthodontist treatment, I started seeing ads on my phone for another orthodontist while I was in the waiting room during his appointments. We’re more than halfway through his treatment; why would I switch?

There’s definitely a case to be made for that orthodontist to serve ads to the whole community, but geo-fencing a competitor wouldn’t be the ideal tactic as it would take a significant negative experience for me to endure the hassle of switching orthodontists mid-treatment.

It’s part of the whole.

Building on your audience’s immediate needs, geo-fencing is not a stand-alone tactic. It’s a branding tool designed to be one part of an overall campaign strategy.

Continuing with the movie theater example: A hungry dad sees the ad for your restaurant at the theater (Tactic: Geo-fencing) and then after the movie he searches for “restaurants near me.” You want your advertiser to be there (Tactics: Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Reputation Management.) When he goes to the website to look at the menu, the site retargeting campaign will continue to retarget him. All these tactics work together to get the conversion. And, to take care of dad’s hunger.

Mostly mobile.

This tactic is primarily waged on mobile, so ALWAYS include mobile creative sizes. Roughly 95 percent of your geo-fencing campaigns are going to be seen by users who enter the target zone with their smartphones. Think of the ad as saying, “Hey, we see you’re at a dealership looking for new car. We have dozens of new models on our lot now!”

That said, desktops and laptops aren’t dead. Think of desktop geo-fencing as electronic direct mail. Target users in an office building with restaurant lunch specials. Target users living in a specific neighborhood with ads for businesses in the shopping center nearest to them. Remember, people are unlikely to drive across town for frozen yogurt, but they may head out after dinner if they know there is a shop just a few blocks away.

Don’t underestimate your audience.

Consumers are well aware their online activities are being used to serve them ads. While this is not a big deal for many people, it’s seen as incredibly invasive to others. Just because you can serve up an ad, doesn’t mean you should.

For example: Even if they are just there for the rides, visitors to the county fair probably won’t be offended by seeing an ad for a feed store. In fact, a large number of fair-goers attend for the agriculture-related activities. But our advice is to tread lightly when targeting hospitals and other care facilities. (Yes, we’ve seen it.)

There is no doubt that geo-fencing is a highly effective marketing tool when thoughtfully executed as part of a larger campaign.

It’s safe to say that when done in concert with other tactics and well-planned messaging and creative, geo-fencing is a powerful and affordable way to reach a specific audience.

The Tru Measure partner management team can always be reached at to help you with your geo-fencing strategy and campaign.

Jamie Butow is a partner manager at Tru Measure, specializing in social and online reputation management. She has an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master’s degree in media psychology.


What is geo-fencing?

A geo-fence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area such as a specific building or neighborhood. With the use of GPS technology, software triggers a response when a mobile device enters or leaves the area. In this case, someone in the fenced area or who was recently in the fenced area, would be served a certain ad.

The Target Zone is where the advertiser wants to target customers who are visiting another physical location (i.e., a competitor’s store, a venue or a specific part of town).

Next, a Conversion Zone is traced around one or more of the advertiser’s locations. By designating a Conversion Zone, you can identify the number of consumers that received the advertisement in the Target Zone and then physically visit the intended location — i.e., the Conversion Zone.