Geotargeting is the method of using location-based targeting to hit your audience with powerful, personalized messaging based on their region. We asked our experts for their tips, tricks, and best practices.

Here you’ll find:

Companies using location-based technology see an 89% increase in consumer engagement across all channels. So it’s no wonder that so many businesses are implementing geotargeting in their campaigns.

Think of geotargeting like invisible fencing for a pet. It’s a way to keep your searches within a certain area by putting up invisible lines (aka Google Ads settings).

But to reap the rewards that geotargeting offers, you need to put in place a refined advertising strategy. And that’s exactly what this guide will show you how to do. 

 What is geotargeting?

Geotargeting is essentially location-based targeting. It’s a marketing strategy that involves delivering tailored content, advertisements, or other offers to people who are based in a specific geographic location. 

Most geotargeted marketing campaigns use two main elements:

  1. They target audiences in specific countries, regions, states, cities, or neighborhoods. Often, these different locations represent the company’s service area or places where the business has identified a high-value audience.
  2. They include localized ad copy or ad elements. For example, these ads may mention the city or region in the ad copy, or they may include local elements like addresses, phone numbers, and business hours.

Geotargeting can work in a few ways, but typically, it relies on data from GPS coordinates, IP addresses, or Wi-Fi connections to determine the person’s location. 

Apps like Doordash and Uber Eats rely on self-reported real-time location while others use information from the GPS in your phone. Regardless of the way it’s reported, your geolocation can be used by a variety of advertising platforms, including Google and Facebook Ads. 

This audience-targeting approach helps you create highly relevant and localized messages for your target audience, which could increase engagement and conversion rates. 

 How is geotargeting used?

Geotargeting serves a variety of purposes for marketers. It allows you to refine your strategies and connect with your audience with personalized content. 

Here are some common ways that marketers use geotargeting

1. Localized marketing

If your business has multiple brick-and-mortar stores can use geotargeting to promote store-specific offers, events, and promotions. This will help you to drive foot traffic and increase sales at specific locations. 

Using the location targeting in whichever ads platform you’re using is essential to ensuring you only reach people who are in your target audience. For some local businesses, this could be as small as a few miles, and for others, as big as whole regions.

HawkSEM’s SEM manager Luca DelPiccolo encourages us to see that localized marketing isn’t just for local businesses, though. He says, “Any business can use geotargeting to their advantage by identifying geographic locations in which their businesses will see a greater return on spend.”

The example he gives is a flip-flop retailer targeting the coastal regions where performance might be better.

“One of the most impressive things about geotargeting is how it improved our local marketing efforts. We were able to target specific regions to promote tech events, deals, and product launches,” shares Max Maybury, Co-Founder of AI Product Reviews.

“This resulted in a huge boost in event attendance, website traffic, and conversion rates. Our audience loved the personalized approach, which helped us build a stronger relationship with our users.”

2. Event promotion

If you’re hosting an event, you can target potential attendees by geofencing the event venue. People in the area will receive real-time updates and exclusive offers, which can boost your event attendance.

3. Ecommerce personalization

Your online ecommerce platform can use geotargeting to display products and promotions relevant to a user’s location. This will enhance the shopping experience and increase conversion rates at your store.

4. Restaurant delivery services

A food delivery service can use geotargeting to display restaurants that deliver to a person’s location. This makes it more convenient for customers to order their favorite meals.

5. Travel and tourism

Geotargeting is a great tool for businesses in the travel industry. Hotels, airlines, and tour operators to target potential travelers with location-specific offers and recommendations.

 How does geotargeting work?

Curious how this technology could work for your business? Let’s look at three types of geotargeting.

Radius targeting

In some cases, geotargeting can be relatively broad. For example, you can opt to show ads to customers in certain countries or regions where you want to expand your market share.

For local businesses, however, it often makes more sense to target around a specific location. That’s where radius targeting comes into play.

With radius targeting, you can reach potential customers within a certain distance from your business. It’s particularly helpful for local businesses or brick-and-mortar stores that want to attract more foot traffic with a lower customer acquisition cost (CAC).

For example, you may want your ads to show to people who live within 5 or 10 miles of your business. This tactic is ideal if you need to reach a hyperlocal audience and you don’t want to waste ad spend on targeting the entire city or metro area.

Geofencing vs. geotargeting

Geofencing and geotargeting are often used interchangeably. However, they’re not exactly the same. Geofencing is similar to radius targeting in that it lets advertisers reach people within certain boundaries of a defined location.

Geotargeting targets users based on their broader geographic location, such as a city or region, and can encompass a wider area. DelPiccolo explains a bit more about what this means. 

“In geotargeting, ads are served to users based on a geographic location, such as a ZIP code or city,” he says.

DelPiccolo explains geofencing is more precise and involves creating a virtual “fence” around a specific location, like a store or event venue. When a user enters or exits this “fence,” they receive targeted messages or offers.

“Using geotargeting, you can choose a radius around cities or ZIP codes, but the minimum size of that radius is 1 mile,” he says. “That is why you would use geofencing to target one specific store.”

“Geofencing depends on the precise physical location of the user. Advertisers can target specific buildings or streets. A more advanced method, yes. A more powerful one, definitely,” explains growth marketer Abhi Bavishi.

One way to use geofencing is to define a boundary around a competitor’s store, office, or venue. Then you can deliver ads to their local prospects or customers, with the goal of encouraging them to shift their loyalty. However, you can also use geofencing to show ads to your own customers.

Weather targeting

With weather targeting, you can get even more specific with your ads, including when and where they deliver. Weather targeting lets you deliver ads to geographic locations during weather-related events like thunderstorms, blizzards, or heatwaves.

By delivering ads based on real-time events, you can increase relevance exponentially. As a result, you can drive more conversions or more clicks at a lower cost.

“The potential to trigger ads based on real-time events in a geolocation (e.g., a sudden rainstorm prompting ads for rain-specific products) is a trend worth watching,” shares Stefan Valentin, Ads Specialist at Irresistible Me.

It’s important to note that no major ad platform has built-in weather data or targeting capabilities. To use this tactic, you’ll need a third-party data feed.

 What are the benefits of geotargeting?

Geotargeting has a tonne of benefits for marketers looking to increase their marketing campaigns’ effectiveness

1. Greater relevance

By delivering relevant content tailored to a user’s location, geotargeting helps you deliver highly relevant marketing messages and capture the viewer’s attention which, in turn, should increase the likelihood of conversion.

2. Improved engagement

Location-based targeting increases user engagement by offering promotions or information that directly relates to their immediate surroundings or interests.

3. Increased conversions

Geotargeted ad campaigns often yield higher conversion rates as they target users who are more likely to take action due to their proximity or specific needs.

4. Cost efficiency

You can optimize your ad spend by focusing your resources on specific geographic areas where your target audience is most likely to be present.

5. Data insights

Geotargeting provides valuable data on user behavior and preferences based on location, allowing for more informed marketing decisions. 

“The benefits of geotargeting are that you can utilize specific consumer data like demographics, interests, and location,” DelPiccolo says. This is compared to geofencing, which “serves ads to anyone within the specific virtual boundary.”

 7 examples of geotargeted ads and why they work

  1. Google ads for a holistic health center
  2. Facebook ads for local pizza delivery
  3. Google ads for nearby restaurant reservations
  4. Google ads for nearby exercise classes
  5. Ad campaign for a local fitness store
  6. Google ad campaign for a local cafe
  7. LinkedIn ad campaign for a nearby tech conference

Now that we’ve covered a relatively complete geotargeting advertising definition, let’s look at some ads. Use these examples as a guide to use geotargeting to create your own ads.

1. Google ads for a holistic health center

HawkSEM’s PPC consultants worked with Nava Health, a Mid-Atlantic holistic health center, to improve lead generation and acquire more qualified leads. Geotargeting was a key component of the campaign’s success.

“By utilizing geotargeting campaigns, HawkSEM’s digital marketing strategies, and ConversionIQ, we were able to garner a whopping 588% more form submissions for Nava Health,” shares Sam Yadegar, CEO of HawkSEM.

“In addition to ensuring a high ROAS by A/B testing and tracking results of geotargeted campaigns, with ConversionIQ, we are able to extract customer data from the conversions and use that data to get more of the same results, even across marketing channels.”

2. Facebook ads for local pizza delivery

When you want to reach potential customers in a specific location, targeting people in certain cities, states, or regions is just the first step. By customizing the PPC ad copy for the audience, you can make the ad more relevant to the audience and more tailored to their needs and interests.

Facebook ads for local pizza delivery

For example, the Hungry Howie’s ad above targets customers in and around Tempe, Arizona. The ad copy calls out the business location and includes both a local phone number and a custom website. The ad also uses a “Call Now” call-to-action (CTA) to connect customers with the local pizza shop.

3. Google ads for nearby restaurant reservations

When you want to target local audiences, small changes to the ad copy can make a big difference. Adding city or neighborhood names and pointing prospects to local resources can significantly improve click and conversion rates.

Google ads for nearby restaurant

For example, the OpenTable ad above appeared in a search for “restaurants with reservations.” The ad copy speaks to this query and mentions the city to attract attention. The search ad also includes a link to “Top Nearby Restaurants,” a resource that factors in the location.

4. Google ads for nearby exercise classes

Do geotargeted ads always have to include localized pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy? Not necessarily. Platforms like Google Ads can insert localized assets to make ads relevant to your target location.

ad copy

For example, the Orangetheory ad above includes copy that’s likely to appeal to most fitness-minded prospects across the United States. However, the assets that appear below the ad are customized based on location, giving prospects an easy way to call or visit a nearby fitness center.

5. Ad campaign for a local fitness store

Google Ads can plug a variety of local business information into your search ads to appeal to certain customer segments. In addition to addresses and phone numbers, it can also display business ratings and hours for nearby customers.

local fitness store

For example, the Fleet Feet ad above says “local running shop,” which is relatively generic yet still appears relevant to potential customers. Below the headline and description, the ad calls out the retailer’s nearest store and opening time, adding a localized element to the ad.

6. Google ad campaign for a local cafe

Although it’s tempting to use broader audiences to drive more results, geotargeting ads often improve outcomes with smaller audiences.

“Geotargeting used creatively can open doors. A case in mind is a local artisanal cafe we aided,” shares Bavishi. “They sought a more broad audience. We opted for a regional Google Ads campaign. This campaign targeted nearby office areas. The cafe saw a 30% rise in footfall during office hours.”

7. LinkedIn ad campaign for a nearby tech conference

If you’re marketing in-person events and conferences, you have to be strategic about the locations you target. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can only target people in the local area.

“We used geotargeting for our cybersecurity courses, and guess what? Thirty percent more enrollments from tech-heavy regions,” shares Selman Seref, Head of Digital at tectrain.

nearby tech conference

For example, the Techonomy ad above highlights a tech conference taking place in Orlando, Florida. In addition to targeting potential attendees based on interests and behaviors, the advertiser uses profile locations to reach people in specific areas.

 Geotargeting best practices

Geotargeting may seem simple, but it’s easy to get wrong or miss key opportunities to optimize wins. Follow these best practices and expert strategies to get more out of your marketing strategy.

1. Define clear objectives

Set specific goals for your geotargeting campaigns. Whether it’s increasing foot traffic to your store or driving online sales in a specific region, having these kinds of clear objectives will guide your strategy.

For example, suppose you’re a clothing retailer with both physical stores and an online presence. Your goal is to boost in-store sales in major cities. You can set a clear objective such as “Increase foot traffic by 20% in our New York and Los Angeles stores within three months.”

This will help you to keep your campaign focused on the right outcome and guide your decision-making. It will also give you a measurable goal to help you understand whether your campaign succeeded. 

2. Get specific with geotargeting

To make your ads hyper-relevant to your target audience, experiment with more detailed geotargeting. “Advertisers often miss the micro-levels,” advises Bavishi. “They target cities, not neighborhoods or zip codes. This is a glaring error. Another issue is not aligning the ad copy with the targeted location. Local relevance makes ads more compelling.”

To ensure your ads deliver consistently, make sure the target audience meets the minimum threshold for the platform. If the audience is too small, the platform may not be able to provide cost-effective delivery.

3. Use location insertion

You don’t necessarily have to write custom ad copy for every location you target. When you run Google ads, you can use location insertion to add the user’s location to the headline automatically. This tool gives you an easy and efficient way to make your ads more relevant.

Google Ads’ location insertion is a type of dynamic keyword insertion that works with responsive search ads. To set it up, create a search campaign and follow the steps above to adjust your location targeting.

Use location insertion

When you write the ad copy, type “{” to prompt a dropdown menu. Choose “Location insertion” and select the location level that you want to display in the ad. You can opt for country, state, or city. You can also choose default text to show when the prospect’s location isn’t available.

4. Use geo-exclusion when necessary

In certain cases, it can be equally important to exclude certain locations from your campaigns as to include them. 

For example, if you offer a service that is only relevant to your target locations, such as snow removal, you will want to exclude certain areas that don’t get much snowfall. 

5. Stay compliant with regulations

Be aware of privacy and data protection regulations that govern geotargeting. 

Ensure you comply with laws such as GDPR (if you are targeting audiences in Europe) or CCPA (if you are targeting audiences in California) to protect user data.

6. Conduct A/B testing

Experiment with different messaging and offers to identify what resonates best with each location. A/B testing helps refine your approach over time.

For example, let’s say you run a travel agency and want to promote your vacation packages. Test two variations of your ad copy: one that highlights adventure activities for nature lovers and the other focusing on cultural experiences for urban travelers. 

You can then analyze the performance data to see which resonates better in specific locations and put more budget into the one that performs well while also benefiting from new audience insights. 

“In addition to the standard best practices, it is essential to ensure you are working with a partner that will A/B test these campaigns and track results in a granular fashion to ensure a high ROAS,” recommends Rambod Yadegar, President of HawkSEM.

7. Experiment with augmented reality (AR)

“If there’s one trend I’m excited about, it’s the integration of AR and geotargeting,” shares Maybury. “AR apps can overlay info and offers on people’s real-world environments. This means advertisers have a ton of potential.”

“For example, if you’re a tech store, you can use AR to show people where they’re closest and give them real-time deals. Plus, with advances in machine learning, predictive geotargeting is getting more accurate, so you can predict what people will do and offer them relevant content before they even look for it.”

 Geotargeting advertising platforms and how they work

All major advertising platforms allow geotargeting, but they all work a little differently. Here’s your guide to getting started with each one.

Google Ads

With Google Ads location targeting, you can reach potential customers in specific areas or use radius targeting. To get started, open your Google Ads account and navigate to the “Locations” panel in any campaign.

Google Ads-location

By default, Google Ads typically applies what’s known as broad geo targeting. In other words, the platform targets people with a “Presence or Interest” in the location you’ve set. For most search campaigns, this setting will help you reach the most people while optimizing your ad spend. If you need to restrict who you reach, use the “Presence” setting instead.


Then enter the country, state, city, neighborhood, postal code, or designated market area (DMA) you want to reach. Make sure to select either “Target” or “Exclude” for each location.


To target by radius, choose locations by following the steps above. Once you’ve published the campaign, open the “Audiences” tab and click to edit. Select “Radius” and enter the location where you want to place the center of the radius. Adjust the size and click “Save” to apply.

LinkedIn Ads

While LinkedIn doesn’t support radius targeting, it does allow you to reach people based on their presence in countries, states, counties, cities, and metro areas. To adjust these settings, open LinkedIn Campaign Manager and look for the “Audience” panel at the campaign level.


To change the default location targeting, first confirm the type of location data you want to use. For example, you may want to target LinkedIn members based on permanent locations, if you’re advertising an evergreen product or service. For a time-sensitive event or conference, targeting based on recent locations is likely to be a better choice.


LinkedIn also supports excluding geographic areas, which is helpful for fine-tuning where you want your ads to appear. For example, you can include a state or a large metro region and exclude specific areas within these selections. If you know exactly where your target market is (and isn’t) based, this setting is helpful for keeping costs in check.

Meta Ads

To run geotargeted Facebook or Instagram ads, use Meta Ads Manager to reach individual or bulk locations. Meta supports targeting consumers based on country, state, city, postal code, or DMA. Note that Meta’s geotargeting now applies to people living or recently in the location you select.


To change these settings, go to the ad set level of your campaign setup and look for the “Audience Controls” panel. Remove the default location and enter the region you want to target. Then adjust the radius from 10 to 50 miles as necessary. Typically, the setting defaults to a 25-mile radius.

Audience Controls

Any location you enter here automatically gets included in your targeting. If you want to avoid reaching target users based in this region, use the dropdown menu to select “Exclude” instead.


If you want to target more than a handful of locations, use the bulk option. Select the location type first, and then input the list of locations you want to reach.

Snapchat Ads

Like many other social media advertising platforms, Snapchat Ads Manager also allows targeting single or bulk locations. Start by going to the ad set level of the campaign and looking for the “Locations” panel. From the list, choose the country you want to target. Then click “Target Locations on Map” to get specific.

Snapchat Ads

To add a longer list of locations, click “Upload Locations in Bulk.” Choose whether to upload states, postal codes, or DMAs. Confirm whether you want to include or exclude the locations, and then input the data.


Twitter / X Ads

Using X / Twitter Ads Manager, you can apply radius targeting or input location data to reach people in specific areas. No matter which approach you choose, you’ll find the settings at the ad group level in Ads Manager.

Look for the “Demographics” panel for your ad group. By default, most X / Twitter ad campaigns are set to target the entire country where your business is based. You can remove this broad targeting and input more specific cities, states, or zip codes instead.


Alternatively, click the “Bulk Upload” link to add a long list of locations. Be sure to select the right type of location before inputting your data.


Another option is using X / Twitter radius targeting. Select “Radius Around a Location” and enter the address you want to target. Then adjust the radius between 1 and 50 miles. Note that you can add just a single radius to each ad group.

Radius Around a Location

Keep in mind that X/Twitter geotargeting relies on users’ recent location data. That means it’s helpful for targeting people in or passing through specific locations.

 5 common mistakes to avoid with your geotargeting

Now, we’ve covered five strategies that you should be implementing. Let’s look at the ones you should avoid. 

It’s essential to avoid the common pitfalls of geotargeting to make sure you don’t waste your campaign dollars.

Here are some mistakes to avoid and how to fix them.

1. Overlooking data accuracy

Mistake: Relying on outdated or inaccurate location data can result in ineffective targeting.

Have you ever taken a vacation to Cancun, Mexico, and continued to get ads for restaurants in the city weeks after you returned home? Well, that’s exactly what you want to avoid. 

Solution: Regularly update your location databases and ensure data accuracy by using reputable sources.

2. Neglecting your audience segmentation

Mistake: Failure to segment your audience based on specific locations and being too wide in your targeting can lead to generic messaging that doesn’t resonate. Focus on user experience rather than blanketing your audiences with a broad message.

Solution: Create distinct audience segments based on geographic criteria and personalize your content accordingly.

3. Having poor timing 

Mistake: Timing is crucial in geotargeting. Sending location-specific promotions at the wrong time can miss the mark. 

For example, let’s say you sell winter clothing and you have a new line to promote for the coming winter. You launch your geotargeting campaign for a region that experiences harsh, snowy winters in early September. 

At this time, your target region is still experiencing warm late summer weather. Your campaign showcases cozy coats, scarves, and gloves, but potential customers in those areas find your messages irrelevant and even off-putting.

Solution: Analyze your audience’s behavior and preferences and regional specificities such as weather events and holidays to determine the best times to deliver messages and offers.

4.  Overlooking competitive analysis

Mistake: Neglecting to analyze your competitors’ geotargeting strategies can put you at a disadvantage and lead to missed opportunities.

For example, if you’re a real estate agency operating in a competitive market, your competitors could be running successful geotargeting campaigns to capture leads in specific neighborhoods. 

You may miss out on potential leads and opportunities if you don’t monitor and analyze their strategies.

Solution: Regularly monitor your competitors’ geotargeted campaigns. Analyze their messaging, offers, and audience segments to identify areas where you can differentiate and improve your campaigns.

5. Having inadequate message localization

Mistake: Translating content without considering local dialects, idioms, or colloquialisms can lead to misunderstandings and make your messaging feel out of touch.

If you run campaigns for an international business, you will need to think about how your audiences in different regions speak. For example, if you launching a geotargeted campaign in English-speaking countries, you may think you can keep the campaign the same in each one. 

However, what is considered acceptable terminology or phrasing can vary significantly between regions such as New York, London, and Sydney.

“We can’t forget to adapt our content for different places, like Geneva and Zurich,” Seref advises. “Never forget the importance of regional and cultural differences. Ignoring these variations once cost us a 10% drop in campaign performance.”

Solution: Invest in proper content localization by engaging native speakers or localization experts who can adapt your messaging to align with the local language.

The takeaway

Geotargeting adds much-needed relevance to PPC campaigns, giving potential customers clear and compelling reasons to click and convert. As a result, campaigns that use this type of location-based marketing can boost clicks and conversions while improving return on ad spend (ROAS).

Ready to get started? Connect with our PPC experts for a free consultation and learn how geographic targeting options can benefit your business.

This article has been updated and was originally published in November 2023.

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