Ever wonder why you get served an ad for a pizza deal on your smartphone when you are out at your favorite bar? Or maybe you don’t wonder at all and you are just stoked to see an awesome deal for a large pepperoni pizza because you are really hungry, and it might shut up your buddy Ted, who has spent the entire evening ranting about how his girlfriend gives love a bad name (Bon Jovi earworm; you’re welcome).

Welcome to the world of geofencing.
Geofencing is exactly what it sounds like – a virtual fence around a geographic area (like your place of business or a competitor’s business or an apartment building). This technique allows advertisers to select an exact storefront, using its address or latitude/longitude point and customize a radius around that point. Establishing a geofence and linking it to a mobile device like a smartphone lets the advertising program know when a person has entered or exited the defined geofenced location. For most businesses, this information is used to trigger a banner ad to the person.

The Opportunities with Geofencing
There are many creative ways to use geofences. Besides the pizza restaurant offering late-night deals to the bar crowd, here are some other examples:

Example 1 – Bakery
A bakery is cooking up a new recipe for some cookies they want to start selling. To help spread the word and get feedback, the bakery sets its geofence targeting and serves ads that invite folks to come in for a free sample. Not only will they get lots of feedback they need on their new recipe, but they can also drive a ton of foot traffic and sell a bunch of their other tasty treats.

Example 2 – Car Dealership
By placing a geofence around a competitor’s location, you have a few options on detouring potential customers your way by serving ads that mention something like “Buy From Us, Not Them” or you can just advertise your latest specials and deals.

Example 3 – Home Builder
A home builder can set up a geofence around apartment buildings and then serve the tenants banner ads promoting options to the advantages of buying a home instead of renting. When a potential homeowner enters the geofenced zone, they can get served an ad about available homes for sale in the area or the advantages of home ownership.

Geofencing’s Flexibility
A geofence can be set at several distances from the location you choose. The distances vary, but some of the targeting option range from over 10 km (6.2 miles) or just out to the sidewalk in front of your business locations at 20 m (6.67 yards).

Why meters? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the world’s last-ditch attempt to get Americans to switch over to the metric system.

Who Benefits?
When done correctly, geofencing should not only benefit your business by driving customers to it, but it should also benefit your consumers as well. Geofencing can be used to improve their experiences and deliver such valuable items like promotions, discounts or maybe just some much-needed peace and quiet from Ted.