Location-Based Mobile Advertising: Geofencing vs Facebook

Location-Based Mobile Advertising: Geofencing vs Facebook

There are many ways to advertise to users. That being said, it’s not surprising that there are many technologies and platforms to choose from. For this post let’s look at Location-Based Mobile Advertising: Geofencing vs Facebook. These 2 approaches do have some similarity, but are not the same. My goal is to remove some of the confusion around terms.

As advertising continues to advance, pinpointing your audience becomes more and more important. Is it no wonder with the average number of ads the average American sees falling somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000? In all that noise, how is your brand, product or service going to be noticed?

To keep from being a contributor to the noise advertisers are changing strategies. They are taking the approach of using geography to show digital ads to customers instead. The goal is to use the customer’s location. Whether it’s their home or current location, they target which people see your message. Examples of this type of advertising are: Showing ads for a sale in a mall store to anyone shopping in the mall. Advertising a restaurant to customers in a shopping plaza. And even showing gym membership specials to a group that lives in a nearby neighborhood.

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Facebook’s Location Targeting

Facebook offers a paid advertising solution that works within the Facebook app/website. The idea is that sponsored content will show in your target’s feed as well as sidebar advertising. Currently, geography can be used in 4 different ways.

1. Everyone In This Location

This method finds people in an area based on GPS data when updating profiles. As well as connection or device information. This is a direct location method and great for immediate attention in a given area.

2. People Who Live In This Location

This identifies people with a registered profile address. And validated with information based on connections to Facebook. You may want to use this to advertise a business or event that will be focused around a neighborhood or city.

3. People Recently In This Location

This identifies people within a region based on device connection. You may use this for advertising based on a demographic indicator. Such as a concert or shopping habits.

4. People Traveling In This Location

This targets individuals who are at least 125 miles from their home. As well as recent location data that puts them in the area. This may be a good way to advertise hotels, rentals and local tourist attractions.

As you can see, Facebook offers some unique ways of using location to advertise. They call this Location Targeting. It’s accurate and keeps ads relevant. But only works within the Facebook closed advertising model. That is, the ads show up in Facebook when a user opens Facebook or an approved Facebook affiliate app. Depending on your goal, this may be a good, or not so good approach.


Geofencing sends targeted digital content to mobile devices within a particular area. This is “the fence,” based on GPS and cellular towers. These devices show ads in the banner space in thousands of apps in the network. Both while they are in the fence, and after they leave. This method leverages connection information from the device while in targeted areas. Geofencing allows you to use location as your driver. But does lack some of the other demographic capabilities of Facebook Location Targeting. Again, depending on your goal, this may be good or not so good.

Location Targeting or Geofencing

Its a tough call on which one to use. It does come down to the target and the best way to get in front of them. When doing your research or choosing a vendor, be sure to look at the name of the technology as well as how it operates. As the saying goes, Geofencing by any other name may not be what you are looking for… Or did that quote have something about a rose in it?

Here at Element 502, digital targeting is our passion. Feel free to reach out to one of our experts to learn how targeted advertising can work best for you.


I have been in marketing and technology for more than 20 years and have worked in many industries and worn many hats. From independent consultant, to cooking school, to establishing technology centers, it was a Spirit led adventure that landed me in the president & owner’s seat at Element 502.

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