In 1941 the first paid television ad aired for Bulova watches. It ran for one minute before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. Bulova paid an estimated $4.00 - $9.00 for the placement.

For Bulova that was a pretty good deal. They could potentially get their brand in front of 5,000 people, assuming everyone in the New York Metropolitan area who owned a television set in 1941 was watching that channel, at that exact time.

Fast forward to the 21st century and advertisers have the ability to reach billions of people on thousands of different devices. This gives business an amazing ability to reach their audience any time, anywhere.

However, this also comes with a downside. In 2020 it’s estimated that people see up to 10,000 ads a day! This can lead to people tuning out the ads, wasting value marketing budgets. In order to reduce waste, advertisers turn to data to try and target their ads to just the right people. The more targeted the ad, the more likely it is to make an impact with the end viewer, and the more impactful the message will be.

Unsurprisingly location targeting is one of the most widely used targeting tactics. According to a study by MarTech, 83% of advertisers say their campaigns are more successful when they use location targeting.

Location targeting is not a one-size fits all approach though. It can be as simple as only running ads in the country or countries you do business in, to serving different messages to different parts of the country based on weather and regional interests, to serving someone an ad because they are currently standing in your store.

If you’re trying to promote your business it’s important to understand what kind of targeting options are available, and which one makes the most sense for you and your business. Not all options will deliver the same result, or have the same cost.

For example, a company like Walmart may be focused on targeting people within a short of drive on their stores, and thus could target large areas. A brand like Pepsi, which sells their products in Walmart, may be more focused on serving a message to someone currently in Walmart to get them to buy their product before they leave.

On a smaller scale, a local jewelry store may be interested in reaching people in their local town, but only people who have been to a competitor’s location, a method known as conquesting.

To achieve all of the above examples there are different types of location targeting products available. These include IP targeting, GPS targeting, and Beacons. In the following sections I’m going to explain how each of these tactics work, how data is collected, and examples of when each may be applicable to certain advertisers.