When I was finally old enough to ride a bike around my neighborhood, my mother created strict boundaries. For example, she told me not to ride past the house with the red bricks, and then not to pass the white fence on the other side of the street. She did this in order to keep an eye on me. This is essentially what geofencing and beacon targeting come down to, an administrator trying to keep a close eye on potential consumers. But just as important, it’s used for the consumers to keep an eye on whatever the administrator wants to advertise to them.
Geofencing and beacon targeting offer very similar services, similar enough to give you a headache. But at the end of the day, understanding their differences can help you optimize your digital advertising in various situations. Rather than putting the administrator’s mother in charge of selecting boundaries, administrators of geofencing can actually set specific boundaries using global positioning services (GPS). So instead of having a boundary from the red brick house to the white fence, the boundary can be the whole neighborhood or the entire city for that matter. Using these boundaries, the administrator can now detect when a customer enters or exits the geofence created. With this information, the consumer can be sent advertisements or coupons if they have the proper apps, and don’t worry, most people have at least one of these apps.
Beacon targeting differs from geofencing because it uses a small device called a beacon that transmits a low frequency signal to any device that has Bluetooth enabled. Beacons can be strategically placed to accurately detect a consumer’s location. I imagine beacons as the red lasers you see in action movies, where the main characters are breaking into a bank and they run across a red laser, and that laser then indicates to the bank that someone has gotten too close to the safe. When a beacon comes into contact with a consumer that has Bluetooth enabled, the administrator receives a bump (connection with consumers’ Bluetooth). With this bump, the administrator can send strategic advertisements to that consumer whenever they please.
A key difference between the two technologies stems from why an administrator decides to use either geofencing or beacon targeting. Say you are the owner of a used car sales lot; you can create a geofenced boundary around a competitor’s car sales lot across the street. When consumers walk in or out of this boundary, they can be sent a notification about a deal on a used car in your lot, thus drawing consumers away from your competitor. Now say that you have no issues attracting consumers to your car lot, but you struggle with closing the deal on a sale, beacon targeting will assist you with this. You could set up multiple beacons across your lot, maybe put a few in the SUV section, a few in the truck section, and then a few in the minivan section of your lot. Beacons will be able to detect how long a consumer is in a certain area of your lot. Say they spent 15 minutes in front of the SUVs, the administrator receives this bump, and the consumer can now be sent an advertisement on a sale for a SUV. Now you’ve convinced a family to take home a new SUV rather than a rusted minivan from the lot across the street.
It is easy to pick a favorite location marketing technique between geofencing and beacon targeting, because one technique may offer more assistance to you and requires less settings (beacons). But if you incorporate both geofencing and beacon targeting in your marketing strategy, you will receive the most return from your investment. It will be like how Kevin Durant and Steph Curry joined forces; they both complement each other wonderfully. Using both technologies allows the administrator to account for more consumers rather than using just one method.
Each technology offers slightly different services but both can help you and your business optimize your advertising strategy and extend your advertising beyond the average print and outdoor advertising strategies!