You might have heard the word “geofencing” for the first time when you saw the news about one of Burger King’s recent marketing campaigns, or you may have known about it for a while. The campaign in question brought Burger King a lot of attention at the expense of their main competitor, McDonald's. Burger King promoted a $0.01 Whopper to any customer that downloaded their app and walked within 600 ft of any McDonalds. In 24 hours, over 50,000 consumers had redeemed the deal.

The genius of this campaign, and the reason we are talking about it, was the fact that it was an offer triggered by proximity to a specific location (in this case, a McDonald’s location). This is the type of localized targeting that we love to dig into.


Geofencing refers to drawing a virtual barrier around a location using a user’s IP address and GPS services. Ads using geofencing will show to anyone within that barrier, regardless of who they are. You can’t add additional targeting outside of the geographic barrier you defined. Push notifications can be enabled using geofencing but are restricted to people with the app downloaded.


Geotargeting delivers ads to people that meet a specific targeting criteria and are inside a defined radius. The key difference with geotargeting is that it can hone in on a specific consumer criteria, such as demographics, behaviors, interests, and a person’s location using zip code, city, state, or country. You can also exclude locations using geotargeting, unlike geofencing.


You might have heard the misconception that you can only target your competitors or a specific area with geofencing. That is not the case. You can replicate that same campaign but with geotargeting - plus layer additional targeting capabilities.

If you are looking to target a specific area regardless of the person, then you should use geofencing. However, if you are wanting to target a specific location and make sure the people within that area meet a certain criteria then you should use geotargeting.

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