Addressable Geofencing Explained

The art of reaching an audience at the perfect time and place.

Illustration by Tony Healey

Julia Carcamo is president and chief brand strategist at J Carcamo & Associates, specializing in brand and marketing strategy. She is also the co-founder of espNOLA, a Hispanic marketing and engagement agency. Learn more at and


Geofencing is a location-based marketing approach that marketers use to engage target audiences via their smart devices once they enter a pre-defined geographic location. You can send directed messages to customers while they are at your competition (or another targeted place.) Most marketers are familiar with this tool, having used it or having been the recipient of a geolocation-based message.

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Car dealerships use this type of advertising to send promotional messages as shoppers pass the dealership or while they are shopping at a competitor location. Airlines use geofencing to upsell passengers as they walk through the airport. Hotels have used it to capture reviews shortly after visitors leave the hotel. Burger King made headlines when they geofenced McDonald’s locations, allowing customers to unlock a penny Whopper offer.

As fast as television is changing, geofencing is as well. Addressable geofencing provides a marketer (or advertiser) the ability to serve ads to people in more exact locations (like the homes of your inactive customers) primarily for the use of customer acquisition or reactivation.

Geofencing allows you to create a virtual fence and place a message in front of customers whenever they cross into the fenced area. In addition to the message they send while a customer is inside the fenced area, marketers can also continue to send messages for up to 30 days after, providing additional frequency and impressions.

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Getting Started

The first step is to understand how your company’s current budget is allocated in terms of strategy and goals, who your core audience is and who you want to reach. Once you know that, you can build a campaign to get to your targets.

Casinos, for example, can target a specific set of homes: for instance, households with adults over the age of 40 that have a keen interest in casinos. They can then pull an addressable list around their property or in a specific geography (i.e., ZIP code, county or parish, town). Lists and budgets can be created with demographic or psychographic targets, or they can use a file from their database. They can also choose to blacklist apps or websites that appeal to underage consumers. Think of it like blacklisting Nickelodeon from your traditional television buy. This eliminates wasteful ads.

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How do you know how well it’s working? You can track efforts by establishing your location as an additional fence to measure the traffic you have created. Additionally, if you used your database to determine the list, you can track actual ROI — something that has historically been unavailable for measuring the success of traditional advertising buys.

Proceed with Caution

Some marketers can fall into the trap of not thinking of addressable geofencing in terms of a comprehensive game plan, such as including site retargeting and (perhaps) search.

You also want to make sure that once you draw in your audience, you have everything you’ve promised them. Is your website all it can be? Is your product ready to go? While the cost of entry for the advertiser isn’t huge, the price of a dissatisfied customer could be higher.

As marketers, business owners and general managers, we are continually asking ourselves how we can target our core audience in much more efficient ways. In this way, addressable advertising can be an excellent tool for your next campaign.

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