Company & Industry News


Geotargeting During Trying Times

March 31, 2020 by Laura Conway

How Agencies and Advertisers Are Using Location-Based Marketing During the COVID-19 Outbreak

As a popular saying goes,



Research agrees:

  • IAB: 38% of advertisers are increasing their investment in audience targeting as an adjustment to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Kantar: 92% of consumers think brands should continue advertising during the crisis
  • McGraw-Hill Research: Firms that maintain or increase advertising average significantly higher sales growth during and after a recession than those that eliminate or decrease advertising 

In Forbes’ article, “When A Recession Comes, Don’t Stop Advertising“, the author cites examples of continuing vs. cutting back advertising and the outcomes of each.  Here is a telling example.

Quick Service Restaurants: In the 1990-91 recession, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s decision to drop its advertising and promotion budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%.

However, your clients may be pushing back and they may be feeling apprehensive about spending money on advertising while revenue has suddenly shrunk.  Tight budgets certainly call for optimizing ad spend. One way to optimize ad spend is to reach the most high-intent audience. Geotargeting and location-based marketing power specific audiences for maximum targeted reach.  In this article, we discuss how to build custom audiences using our location-based marketing platform, VISIT Local.  We also suggest messaging to use in your digital ads to keep your clients afloat during social distancing.


Targeting Current Customers

Finding your Audience: Advertisers are using VISIT Local’s flexible look-back tool to create audiences that have visited locations over the past 30, 60 and 90 days. Others are looking back up to a year. Targeting loyal customers who have an affinity for specific brands are likely to do what they can to help brands they like through this crisis.  

Messaging Inspiration:  Serve current customer ads encouraging take-out or gift cards, promoting specials and discounts, and stay top of mind. Kantar research shows that brands should avoid humorous ads during the pandemic. 


Targeting Those Who Live Nearby

Finding your AudienceAdding a geofence around locations you care about enables you to expand your audience and include everyone who lives within a specific radius — from ¼ mile up to 5 miles.  Targeting people who live near your locations allows you to find an audience who is likely to stay close to home.

Messaging Inspiration:  Let those who live in the neighborhood know that locations are still open and what they are offering. Promote convenience, which consumers value above all, or retarget those who have driven by many times to give this brand a try.  


Custom Polygons

Since most restaurants and stores have limited services to take-out, pick-up or delivery, advertisers can create custom polygons where they know customers are still going.

Finding your Audience:  Rather than using just the footprint of a building, include the pick-up area in the parking lot or geofence the drive-through by drawing a custom polygon. Advertisers are using this tool to target those who have taken advantage of their pick-up services and those who they want to win over.  

Messaging Inspiration: Support local businesses who rely on neighborhoods to stay afloat. You can encourage consumers to get take-out or buy a gift card that they can use later. This helps the business with cash flow now and lets the consumer enjoy a favorite meal (or two!) after the outbreak has subsided.



Transitioning to Online Only

Finding your Audience: Whether you are advertising for a brand with an established e-commerce presence or an independent yoga studio, stores are closing their doors and transitioning to digital. To target online customers, brands can geotarget past visitors and visitors to similar locations. If it makes sense for your brand, you can also geotarget nationally to get all of your store visitors to buy online.

Messaging Inspiration:  Offer special introductory deals for new online members of fitness classes. Build an online community and emphasize your loyalty program to maintain current customers. Promote free shipping or other discounts to drive e-commerce sales.  



The audiences you create can be used across the digital advertising ecosystem.  Audiences of mobile ad ID are used as a custom audience on Facebook and other social media platforms and can be served seamlessly through your DSP.  For a full list of ad platforms that accept audiences of MAIDs, click here.

To learn more about how you can help your restaurant clients, check out our blog post, “How Restaurants Can Use Location-Based Marketing To Drive Take-Out Sales“.  If you are ready to get started geotargeting, request a demo of VISIT Local.

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