Geotargeting: Everything a Local Business Should Know

02.25.2020 Mary Guo

Mobile devices have made it easy to consider location when delivering ads to your current and potential customers. But how that location data is used can depend on a number of factors. And, for your small business, it’s important to understand why you’re using location to target your ads to a specific group—otherwise, you’re creating a filter on your ad targeting that may be kicking out high-value prospects.

Whether or not you’ve heard of geotargeting before, it’s important to understand how this targeting method can be used to single out high-value prospects, optimize your ad spend, and deliver highly targeted messaging to a highly targeted audience.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business looking to expand your presence in a certain geographic region, or an online business trying to grow brand awareness within an underserved metropolitan market, geotargeting is a cost-effective option.


Geotargeting is an advertising strategy that uses location data to target an audience based on their location, in addition to criteria such as demographics, behaviors and interests. Geotargeting can be used across a number of different paid advertising channels, including paid search, display ads, social media ads, or any other advertising channels that use location as a filter when choosing an audience.

One of the most popular ways to use geotargeting is when trying to reach an audience that has a close proximity to your brick-and-mortar location. A retail store, for example, can use geotargeting to limit ad exposures to users within two miles of their store, or whatever radius they choose. But geotargeting also lets you display ads to an audience based on their region, state, city, section of a city, or even a zip code.

As MarketingLand notes, you can also target users based on their location history. A music festival, for example, could deliver advertisements to anyone whose mobile devices registered their location at the event the year prior. This can help the event organizers drive ticket purchases among last year’s visitors, using location data that may be more reliable than other targeting methods.


Geotargeting bears a lot of similarities to geofencing, but there are important distinctions that small business owners should know. Geofencing utilizes a user’s real-time data in relation to a pre-set geographical area. Whenever users enter that geofenced area, they are eligible to receive targeted messaging on their mobile devices. Geotargeting comes into play when ads are delivered to people inside of a defined geographical area who meet a specific targeting criteria

Despite the slight differences between geotargeting and geofencing, there are benefits to using each capability. As you consider which approach is best for your local business’ advertising strategy, think about your target customer and your goals for the campaign. 


Depending on your advertising goals, geotargeting can be utilized many different ways, in an effort to achieve better results. In addition to the examples already mentioned, here are some of the most common use cases where businesses benefit from geotargeting their ads:

  • To raise brand awareness in a new location. If your business is new, or you’ve recently moved locations, you can drum up attention—and hopefully visits from customers—by targeting to your local area.
  • To encourage return visits from past customers. If you run a retail location, for example, you can use past location data to deliver ads to consumers who have already visited your store. Whether or not they’ve made a purchase, you can consider offering a discount or other promotion to encourage another visit and strengthen your brand’s relationship with those customers.
  • To grow your customer base in areas where you currently struggle. If you find your business struggling to generate business among a certain neighborhood or area near your business, you can create a custom message and ad strategy, and use location filtering to specifically target those geographic areas, concentrating your ad dollars in an area where you are seeking better results.
  • To target visitors to your competitors. This strategy is commonly used online, but location data makes it possible in the real world, too: by targeting consumers who have visited the retail locations of your competition, you can deploy targeted campaigns designed to steal them away.

Geotargeting may not be for every business in every advertising situation. But when location is relevant to an audience member’s likely interest in your brand, it’s worth using this information to improve your audience filtering and increase your chances of connecting with a customer.

If you’d like more information or want to further understand the many different ways your business can reach current and potential customers, Cox Media can help. Click here to get started today.

About the Author

Mary Guo

In her role as Product Marketing Manager, Mary helps brings the Cox Media product portfolio to life. She has a passion for marketing and uses her skills to produce client focused strategies that brings together traditional television and digital media. She understands consumer and market trends in the media landscape that helps create actionable insights that will help business, large and small, stay ahead of the game.

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