Geotargeting: Let’s Get Critical

lorrydestainville“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lorry Destainville, product development director at Glow.

I used to be a geoskeptic. This is an industry term I just invented.

Advertisers used to approach me breathlessly thirsting for geotargeting across their campaigns. I’d ask them with arched eyebrow, “Why? In all honesty, I’m not sure I see added value in layering national campaigns with geospecific targeting.”

What I got to see next were several pairs of disappointed puppy eyes. The puppies wanted to geotarget.

So I asked myself: Why is everyone talking about geotargeting? It was time to dig out my scuba suit and deep dive into the hype.

What I found is a huge stack of articles out there telling you that geotargeting is the cat’s pajamas. Precision targeting that will rock your conversion data to an 11th heaven. OK, Internet, I get it. I see the potential. But what is lacking is specific direction for advertisers.

I now want to go where none of my Internet friends have gone before.

Cases Where I Would Advise Against Geotargeting

1. It will impact delivery negatively

Working in a creative industry, you work with a lot of creative people who are buzzing with exciting and interesting ideas. You want to split campaigns by gender, age, keywords, location, relationship status, education status, hair style or favorite sandwich filling until you have found the one, single, perfect user in the entire universe that fulfills those requirements. Advertisers do not like to hear this, but the truth is that in order to deliver campaigns successfully at scale, you need to be selective with how many approaches you test at once. Going too geogranular at this stage can threaten scale. If your campaign budgets are already stretched too thin due to the volume of tests you are running, or your active campaigns are struggling to spend their budgets in full, geotargeting is not currently for you.

2. You do not know why you want to geotarget

If all the other advertisers jumped off a bridge, would you, too?

Let me be clear: This is not a roast. There are valid cases where geotargeting will provide an uplift in performance (keep reading). But I object to implementation because “it’s something we want to test.” If we are going to do this, then let’s do it properly, please.

Cases Where I Would Be Delighted To Test Geotargeting

1. The campaign creative is tailored to cultural and regional sensitivities

The strategy for this approach is to build a stronger, more intimate relationship with your consumers. This is particularly powerful for social advertising. You’re showing them some love by winking toward these subtleties.

A few examples:

  • Linguistic: Where language barriers are not defined by national borders, such as French in Montreal or strong national dialects in places like Bavaria.
  • Climatic: An image containing a man wearing a coat for Seattle or a light shirt in Miami.
  • Currencies: Not only should you be displaying price points in the local currency, you may also be operating in a market where there are multiple currencies in circulation.

2. The offering is a location-bound promotion

If the offering is location-restricted, such as for users in a certain city or region that are able to take advantage of the offer, then you are wasting money delivering content to users that do not qualify. Example: an airline offering discounted flights from specific regional airports.

3. The offering is physically responsive to a region’s topography

You wouldn’t try selling a penguin a lawnmower, would you? Geotargeting is essential in examples like these when you are dealing with a market that exists across multiple climates, such as in the United States.

4. You’re targeting ‘city types’

You know what I’m talking about.

The Verdict

Geotargeting can be a powerful and necessary tool but only when applied for the right reasons. As with anything, don’t just jump in blindly because you think all the other kids are doing it.

Finally, it is important to remember that the execution of any campaign stems from the fundamental question of who your target audience is and how your brand should be perceived.

Follow Glow (@thisisglow) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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