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Get the Most Out of Your Geofencing Campaigns

July 25, 2018


Geofencing, or the hyper-local mobile targeting strategy using very specific geographic locations, has been around for several years now. Once the shiny new toy bursting onto the digital marketing scene, stealing dollars from programmatic display, geofencing is now a tried a true industry veteran. What has changed though is the sophistication and application in which you can apply the technology. Who said you couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Geofencing works extremely well for campaigns with physical locations, i.e Apartments! We have experience running geofencing campaigns for both multifamily and student housing buildings, and we wanted to share what we learned on how to get the most bang for your buck. Apartments notoriously have small budgets for digital marketing and usually an even smaller budget for a product like geofencing, don’t sabotage the results of the campaign but trying to do too much with less. A good rule of thumb is to allocate about $250 per fence for your campaign. So on a $750 budget, pick 3 fences that you feel good about. Trying to cram more fences in on a tight budget will dilute your impression share and negatively impact the performance of the campaign.

General tips on measuring attribution:

When it comes to measuring success, whether you call it conversion zones, walk-ins, or in-store attribution, it is important to look at how many physical visits you are getting as the result of the geofencing campaign. Through tracking device ids, most geofencing platforms have data on device ids that were served an ad (not even clicked!) and then were at a certain location. Creeped out yet?


This technology has come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to do. Use your instinct and experience when looking at some of these reports to keep things realistic. If walk-ins are reporting more than half the number of total guest cards you are getting for the month, you know something is off. Here are some tips on cleaning up your data:

  • Really look at the address you are using to measure onsite traffic. Many new buildings are using the street corner for the address instead of the center of the building. Have a 750 unit building? The leasing office can be a half mile away from the official Google Maps street address. Use lat/long coordinates instead to get a more accurate read on who is visiting your building.

  • Get more specific by tightening up your attribution window. Most digital marketing campaigns use a 30 day ‘lookback’ window for conversions. Meaning from the day a user (really a device) is served an ad, they have 30 days to visit the leasing office to be counted as a conversion. Served another ad on day 3? That’s right, another 30 days. This can lead to a higher duplication percentage. Narrowing your lookback window down to even 14 days can help significantly to get closer to a unique walk-in number.
  • Scrub your data! Look at device ‘dwell-time.’ Through mobile ad server data, if you see a device at an apartment building for longer than a few hours, you can probably assume that the owner of that device either lives or works at the building. You shouldn’t waste ad impressions on that device, and you most certainly should make sure to exclude that device id from any conversion reporting.

Now that we have a better handle on the ways we can improve our data quality, here are some general rules when choosing your fences.

For Multifamily:

  • Location, location, location. Really think about the market you are in. Targeting a fence 5 miles away from an apartment in downtown Denver mine as well be on the other side of the world. People just don’t travel that far. However, in Phoenix, a bigger commuter city, people are willing to drive more. We have actually seen success targeting a fence that is 15 minutes (by car!) away. If that fence is contributing to walk-ins, you can rest easy those are higher quality leads.

  • Be careful of lease-ups! When we are running campaigns for a building in lease-up mode, most of the time when talking about the competitor buildings in the area, they are also lease-ups. It seems like common sense but when you are in a fast-moving digital world, but it can be easy to overlook that targeting a building with not many residents living in it is not the smartest idea. Also, is it too soon to throw it back to tip number one above? Most new builds often don’t have Google Maps street addresses yet, so make sure to double check your building is literally on the map before launching your campaign.

    • Pro tip –switch your strategy to retargeting for lease-ups! If you are targeting a new build, switching your approach to retargeting people who have been there previously vs. targeting people who are currently there could be really effective.

  • Prioritize! When it comes to picking fences on a smaller budget consider the following priority: Choose close competitors first, then employer fences, and latest nearby hotspots (think shopping centers, hospitals, military bases).

Student Housing:

  • Get more granular with your fences. Rather than fencing an entire university, try fencing the lat/long of specific dorms with a 200-meter radius. Keeping targeting tight around key fences can lead to higher quality results.

  • Research the University. Does the university have a big international presence? Try fencing the International office of affairs or even the airport! International students have a much different journey when it comes to looking for an apartment, sometimes not even beginning their search until they land at the nearby airport. Which is the perfect time to hit them with your current specials on their phone. If you do go this route, make sure to be very specific on time frame, and only target the airport in those weeks that students are likely to be arriving.

  • Switch it up! When it comes to student housing geofencing campaigns, you should change the fences more often than you need to for multifamily campaigns. Are you fencing those dorms and on-campus buildings we mentioned earlier? Well now that it is summer, those fences don’t apply. Try fencing other local hangout spots, or even the library to hit summer school students while the campus is quieter.

As is true with most digital marketing, your message is king! Make sure to update your creative with current specials, beautiful imagery and copy that gets your brand across quickly. More to come on creative best practices, but sneak peek - we see the 320x50 perform WAY better than larger units. It is sticky and less intrusive from a user experience standpoint.

Want to learn more about all things geofencing? Contact us HERE.

And if you have some geofencing tips you’d like to share, we’d love to chat!


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