Geo-Targeting: What It Is and How To Use It

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Geo-targeting has opened many doors for marketers and advertisers alike. After all, it helps focus on a specific market, resulting in more relevant ads, increased campaign value, and a better ROI.

Let’s dive into the ins and outs of geo-targeting in advertising, explore best practices, and look at some examples.

What Is Geo-Targeting?

Geo-targeting is an advertising strategy designed to target an audience within a specific geographical area. Simply put, it uses location data to reach prospects with messaging appropriate to their locality and behavior.

This tactic is widely used for local marketing, including brick-and-mortar shops and small businesses.

With 80% of consumers wanting to receive location-based alerts, however, geo-targeted advertising can also be eminently helpful to larger businesses and e-commerce stores looking to target buyers based on larger regions.

How Does Geo-Targeting Work?

Platforms such as Google Ads often use a variety of factors to determine a consumer’s physical location for geotargeting, including:

  • IP address
  • GPS
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth

Geo-targeting, however, doesn’t only need to be based on real-time location. Finding out a consumer’s location can also be based on search (also known as location of interest). This typically involves:

  • Search queries that mention a location
  • Past searches that indicated a location of interest
  • A user’s previous locations
  • Google Maps searches
  • Custom location setting for search results

To better reach your audience, you can also use geo-targeting software. Let’s explore three of the more popular geo-targeting tools supported by social networks and marketing platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting is a tactic that enables you to narrowly target a defined audience based on the location they visited within a certain time frame. This, in turn, allows you to use valuable data on demographics, visitation, and behavior to create a custom audience and use behavioral targeting.

Today’s advancements in technology and AI automation can enhance audience targeting, allowing marketers and advertisers to make more effective and strategic decisions.

Location Targeting

Location targeting allows you to target shoppers based on specific countries, regions, or cities.

In Google Ads, you can target users based on “location groups”, too. This includes places of interest, tiered demographics, or business locations. Additionally, the platform enables you to exclude users based on certain locations (e.g. if you’re shipping within the US only, you can exclude anyone outside of the States).

Location targeting can be carried out on Facebook Ads, as well. Here, you can also target people by free trade area, as well as other features such as “emerging markets”.

What’s even more, Facebook offers ad performance monitoring, which means that if it notices that your ad performs best in certain regions, it’ll reallocate your budget to ensure you’re serving up more ads in that area.

Weather Targeting

Weather targeting is the practice of tailoring your messaging to prospects based on local weather conditions. Typically, it involves integrating a real-time weather forecast data stream into your personalization platform.

Additionally, you can set up weather-based automation rules that can modify your bids and adjust the creatives to best resonate with the weather in a specific location.

Weather targeting is a wonderful strategy to leverage the power of audience targeting, location targeting, and the prevailing conditions.

Geo-Targeting Best Practices

Successful geo-targeted advertising can positively impact a number of metrics, including your Quality Score, click-through rate, and impression score.

Although leveraging this tactic in your ads isn’t overly difficult, there is still some strategy needed to do so effectively.

A good place to start is by considering the geo-targeting best practices below.

Target the Areas Your Business Serves

As a rule of thumb, it’s smart to invest more in targeting locations that have a higher percentage of your target demographics.

When setting up your geo-targeting, don’t forget to consider the area’s social-economical status. If your business is selling high-end products, for instance, consider focusing on more affluent locations.

Over time, as you gather more data, you may discover that specific cities in your target area are responding better to your ads. This will help you redistribute your budget on a local level and maximize your results.

All that being said, while it might be tempting to “cast a wide net”, remember that sometimes it might be worth taking a step back and looking at the locations that perform best. Prioritizing these top-performing areas, especially if you’re watching your PPC budget, can help you to see costs go down without losing out on conversions.

Exclude the Locations You Don’t Serve

Excluding locations that your business doesn’t serve is a good way to avoid spending your budget on an area that won’t lead to any results. For example, if you’re based in the United States – and do not yet deliver to the rest of North America – you’ll want to exclude Canada and Mexico from your campaigns.

One way to see which regions have the most potential for conversion is by using Google Trends.

This is a great tool for breaking down the volume of searches for a certain keyword, showing the interest people have in it within a particular country, region, subregion, and city. Even more, by using Google Trends, you’ll also be able to see what keywords might work best in combination with your geo-targeting.

Geo-Targeting Examples

Wondering how you can use geo-targeting as part of your own digital marketing strategy?

Here are three examples to help you get a better idea of how you can leverage the power of geo-targeting in your campaigns.

Domino’s Pizza

As one of the most recognized leaders in the pizza production and delivery space, Domino’s Pizza has numerous stores across the United States and all over the world.

The company is also well-known for its hyperlocal opted-in, geo-targeted campaigns. With over 65% of U.S. sales coming from digital channels, it comes as no surprise that geo-targeting has been one of the many ways that turned Domino’s business around.

So, how did they do that?

Let’s take a look at this example:

On a very basic level, to create an effective hyperlocal ad for a local delivery business, you’ll need the addresses of your customers. In the case of Domino’s, they used the incentives of discounted offers to encourage customers to provide location information.

With that information available, the company can start geo-targeting based on factors such as ZIP codes, time zones, states, and store locations. This enables them to further target people in specific locations based on real-time events and offers.


Another example of utilizing geo-targeting comes from Toyota. Not too long ago, the company decided to revitalize its “Let’s Go Places” campaign. To do that, Toyota started running ads within Snapchat’s localized Live Story feature for users located in the Los Angeles area.

Even more, the company also updated its Google Ads campaigns with customized ad banners in 15,000 cities across the United States. Effectively, these hyper-targeted ads were meant to encourage people to explore the areas around them, ideally while driving a Toyota car/

Purple Mattress

Purple Mattress is best known for its bed-in-box mattress that features a top layer of hyper-elastic polymer in the shape of a grid.

As part of their “Sleep Cool” campaign, Purple wanted to capitalize on the idea that, as temperatures rise, so does the discomfort of a mattress that gets hot while you sleep.

The company’s advertisements were heavily targeted to people who lived in warm weather locations, such as Phoenix, Arizona. They even tightened their ad copy from “Sleep Cool, with Purple” to “Hey Phoenix, Start Sleeping Cooler”.

According to the company, in the 14 months since the geo-targeted ads launched, “Sleep Cool” has become one of Purple’s best-performing campaigns, ending up having higher click-through rates (as compared to generalized ad placement).

Is Geo-Targeting Effective?

It’s sensible to remember that consumers nowadays want – and actually expect – content to be personalized to them, and geo-targeting is one way to deliver more accurate and relevant content.

With geo-targeting, you can better relate your offering to local events or use language that better resonates with that community.

Overall, marketers and advertisers choose to use geo-targeting ads for several other reasons, as well. Let’s walk through some of the more prominent benefits of geo-targeting:

  • Minimizing the risk of wasting ad spend on consumers who are not located in an area you serve
  • Making your business locally relevant
  • Building authority and improving relationships with local customers
  • Personalizing your message and improving user experience
  • Increasing online traffic
  • Allowing you to hide strategic ads from competitors

Maximizing Your Local PPC Performance

Taking advantage of customer data as you build your ad campaigns can help you establish closer relationships with people who meet certain characteristics and reside in specific areas.

Executed well, geo-targeting enables your target audience to easily find your business and, simultaneously, receive the most relevant content possible.

To learn more about how you can improve your PPC strategy and accelerate your business, check out our 6 PPC to improve your performance.