Blog Post

Using geo-location data to fuel paid digital advertising

09/02/2021 - Sierra Ducey

As conversations regarding data and tracking continue to swirl within the industry, consumers have made one thing evidently clear: those that are will are willing to share their data want to do so if it makes their customer experience better. 

We’ve all probably experienced the user-end of this sentiment: being served an ad that has no relevance to our interests or previous browsing habits. Not only does this cause frustration, but on the advertiser’s side, it’s wasting precious paid digital advertising dollars

So, how can advertisers ensure they’re using data in a mutually beneficial way: improving the customer experience, which translates to more efficient ad spend? Geo-location data is an excellent place to start.

What is geolocation data? 

In simplest terms, geolocation data refers to the geographical location of a device connected to the internet. Most commonly, this data comes from a mobile phone or laptop but can also include intelligent speakers and fitness trackers. It is usually provided from a GPS satellite, cell tower, or IP address either in real-time or passively.

In-real-time geolocation data

GPS and cell towers allow advertisers to pinpoint a consumer’s current location. Consumer’s mobile phones and other connected devices give them the option to share their location data. If they opt-in to share, geolocation software can pinpoint their location based on these networks. This works exceptionally well in cities and more densely populated areas as there are many networks to more accurately pinpoint their exact location. 

Passive geolocation data​​

Internet service providers know a customers’ IP address which is generally connected to a physical location in their database. This gives advertisers the ability to target consumers generally based on the city or county they live in. It’s important to keep in mind that depending on where the data comes from and how frequently it’s updated will determine how accurate this source of data is.

How does this data help target consumers? 

Consumers have their phones with them pretty much throughout their entire day – as they are traveling to and from work, the gym, dinner, the grocery store, etc. For advertisers, the more data we acquire, the better user experience we can create. With the data, we can use paid digital advertising to target customers with ads relevant to their interests, hobbies, and shopping habits and where they are geographical. This can be done in two ways: geofencing and mobile location history. 

Geo-Fencing Options

Target users in a specific area

Geo-fencing is used when you have a specific address in mind where you would like to target users who are within a certain radius of said address. The address is plugged into Google’s API where we receive latitude and longitude coordinates that we can then target across display and mobile devices. 

This allows advertisers to set a specific radius around places such as stores, restaurants, fairs, or competitor locations to attract customers while they are within the vicinity to make a purchase. 

Mobile Location History

Targeting users who have traveled to a specific area (within a certain time frame)

Mobile location history allows advertisers to reach customers who have previously been to a specific location in the last 13 months or less (with a 7-day minimum recommended window). 

With this solution, advertisers have various ways to keep their brand top of mind with consumers who have previously been at their (or a competitor’s) location but haven’t made the return trip or purchase. 

Best Practices for Using Geo-Location Data

Our team is constantly uncovering new and creative ways to use geolocation data to fuel our client’s paid digital advertising effort. Still, three ways we see it used more effectively are events within the travel sector and in conjunction with audience targeting. 


Event targeting allows advertisers to set a target radius around the physical location of the event to reach consumers attending the event. This allows the event hosts to inform attendees of special sessions or promotions they’re offering. But, it also allows local businesses such as restaurants, bars, and shops to promote their brand to consumers they know are close to their location.  

Over the past year, there have been fewer in-person events than in years before. However, advertisers can still reach audiences that have previously attended their event using mobile location history. 

For example, a client of ours attends a large industry expo every year in the fall, which historically drives a large portion of their revenue. In 2020, the event was virtual, and they reached out for help to stay top of mind with the decision-makers who customarily would attend the event. We used mobile location history to target consumers within the radius of the event in 2019 with display and video ads. So while consumers were sitting in their respective cities and states watching the virtual event, our client reminded top of mind and drove engagement.

Travel Industry

The travel industry has countless use cases for geolocation data. Just like with events, both geolocation and mobile history data can be used to target consumers. 

Hotels, airlines, amusement parks, and resorts can utilize mobile location history to target consumers who previously visited or traveled with them (or a competitor) in the last year but haven’t returned. This past summer, we’ve seen this as a very effective tactic as many people were looking for travel opportunities, especially domestically within the United States. 

Conversely, once those trips are booked, high tourist areas can use geolocation data to set a radius around their location to attract travelers to visit and shop with their brand. These consumers are likely looking to try new places, so they’re eager ot interact with a brand that stands out to them as they browse and research.

Layered Audience Targeting

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, consumers are willing ot share their data to improve their user experience. This reigns true with location data as well. Just because a person is within the vicinity of your store doesn’t mean they are your consumer. 

Layering behavior, contextual, and other audience data with your geolocation data will ensure that your paid digital advertising efforts reach the audience most likely interested in your brand. This allows your brand to tailor the messages and ad formats even more precisely to what will resonate with your audience. 

Ready to Incorporate Geolocation into your Paid Digital Advertising? 

As people start venturing back to more normal routines in a post-pandemic world, geolocation data is an essential tool advertisers can use to keep their brand top of mind with consumers and stand out from the competition.

Digilant’s Geolocation Solutions

At Digilant, we create solutions across geofencing and mobile location history to fuel our clients’ paid digital advertising. With a team of expert strategists, we uncover the best options to reach your target audience with compelling, geographically relevant, targeted display and video ads.  

Interested in learning more? We’re eager to talk about your advertising goals. Contact us here!

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