Location-based advertising is rapidly becoming a staple of campaign strategy, with marketers expected to spend $26.5 billion on location-targeted marketing in 2019. Understanding the principles of location-based marketing is key if you want to keep up.

There are four main location-based marketing methods, so let’s take a brief look at how each one works.


This is where ads or content are shown to a consumer based on their real-time location. If an individual chooses to share their location with an app, geofencing allows the app to send a push notification, an SMS, or perhaps location-specific advertising in-app when that individual enters a pre-defined “geofenced” area.

Google and Facebook (and therefore, Instagram) are the two leading companies providing geofencing targeting. Brands can use these to promote at a specific location, an event they’re supporting, or even at an event where consumers are likely to be interested in their services.


This is where advertising and content are shown to audiences who’ve visited specific locations in the past. Using historical data lets marketers create campaigns to reach audiences whose location data provides evidence of their offline preferences. In practice, the way this is set up will vary depending on your product or service, and it’s important to adapt a location-based marketing strategy accordingly.

Say, for example, you’re promoting an event at a shopping mall. Targeting people who’ve visited in the previous 90 days would be an appropriate time frame to focus on. However, sellers of bigger ticket items like cars or bikes need to shorten this window. If they’re visiting a dealership, the customer is likely to be at the closing stage of the consumer journey, so setting up a time frame of 1-2 weeks would be more appropriate.


This is where marketers use consumer visits to competing brands or locations to serve ads or content to customers. As a most basic example, whenever a customer visits a competitor, a marketer can serve them a promotional ad for their own product at a discounted price. This tactic works well both in real time and using historical data.

Proximity marketing

This is where technology such as beacons, NFC or augmented reality can be used to deliver content, ads or alerts when in close proximity to a specific location. Google Beacons are about to be making a comeback after they quietly slipped out of the limelight following their release in 2015. They provide a host of functionality, but in the most basic sense, they can send out content or ads when a consumer is within a few feet. It’s like hyper-specific geofencing.

Augmented reality is becoming a popular way to engage consumers among drinks companies. One example is an app that brings the label of a wine bottle to life. Scan the label using your phone’s camera, and the app turns it into an animated display.

So, whatever you’re marketing, you should be looking to make location-based advertising part of your marketing mix.