Just a decade ago there were less than three billion subscriptions to mobile-cellular telecommunications services. Today, there are more mobile devices than people on the planet. According to Kevin Kimberlin, Chairman of Spencer Trask & Co., “No other technology has impacted us like the mobile phone. It’s the fastest growing man-made phenomenon ever — from zero to 7.2 billion in three decades.”

Because mobile devices have become a daily part of our lives, marketers have had to rapidly adapt their strategies in order to reach the mobile users. One of the most effective approaches has been using proximity marketing to send content and notifications to mobile customers. In it’s simplest explanation, this is accomplished by using cellular technology to send messages to consumers who are in proximity to a business.

For example, a department store could send out coupons to customers who have just applied for a store card or enrolled in a loyalty program. Hotels could inform guests about events or promotions. Restaurants could send customers the daily menu as they approach the business. The possibilities are essentially endless for marketers.

Typically, these proximity marketing has been accomplished using the following techniques:

  • Geo-Aware Ads: Ads that are based on real-time location.
  • Geo-Fencing: Ads sent based around a certain location.
  • Geo-Conquesting: This is similar to geo-fencing, except that it also sets a perimeter around your competitor’s.

Without knowing it, brands like Macy’s, Starbucks, Apple, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, and Protector Gamble have all adapted Proximity Marketing “to close the last gap between the customer and the register.”

If you want to tap into the generate higher ROI with proximity marketing, here the best ways to utilize the technology and strengthen the relationship with your customers.

AdWords Location Targeting

While companies like Facebook and Twitter have been embracing geotargeting for advertising purposes, Google’s AdWords has proven to be the leader of the pack for basic proximity targeting purposes.

When getting started, you’ll target a larger area, such as the entire US and Canada – which are the default location. However, you can select specific locations to target by either county, city, region, or postal code. You can even exclude certain areas. For example, if you wanted to target only customers in the continental US, it’s possible to exclude residents in Alaska and Hawaii from receiving your ads.

Before we move on, here’s a couple of reminders for setting up your campaign.

  • Reach is the amount of people who could potentially spot your ads in a determined area.

There are also three choices you can select on for each location:

  • Add will place a location to your list of targeted locations.
  • Exclude will avoid ads from appearing in a specified ads.
  • Nearby this is a list of nearby regions that you may want to add as well.

Adwords Advanced Search Options

After you’ve gotten the basics out of the way, AdWords gives you the more advanced options like radius targeting, location groups, and using bulk locations.

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Let’s say that you’re a business owner in the Philly area. When you enter “Philadelphia”, you’ll be presented with a number of different pre-determined options for you to either add or exclude. AdWords will also let you search for nearby areas.

If you use the radius targeting option, you’ll be able to select how many miles around a specific location to target. Again, you’ll also have the chance to add, exclude, or search nearby locations.

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If you dive into the location groups you’ll have access to more regional targeting options, such as places of interest, demographics, and any information regarding prior saved location groups.

Finally, under the bulk locations option, you can easily and quickly target a large number of specific zip codes. If you have zip codes from a previous campaign, for example, you can add them at once as well. AdWords allows you to type or paste up to 1,000 locations at a time to add, exclude, or remove them in bulk.

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AdWords Best Practices

You can go into ‘Settings’ and view information like clicks, impressions, average cost-per-click (CPC), and average position to determine how your campaign is working. If the campaign isn’t working, it may be because you haven’t:

  • Targeted the locations where your customers are.
  • Excluded locations that don’t include customers.
  • Examined regional interests.
  • Included regional terms in your keywords list.
  • Enable location extensions and call extensions in your local ads.

Step Up Your Game With Proximity for Mobile

As mentioned earlier, we’re currently in the mobile revolution. And, there’s no signs of it slowing it down. In fact, Statista, expects that by 2017 “more than 90 percent of internet users will access online content through their phones.” Even more interesting is that research shared in Business Insider discovered that spending on mobile advertising will top $42 billion by 2018. If you want to stay competitive, it’s time to start reaching your mobile customers. And, that means doing more than embarking on an AdWords geotargeting campaign.

Since 2012, Meteora has proven to be a leader in proximity marketing thanks to it’s state-of-the-art retargeting platform. This revolutionary platform places ads of specific products on the websites, as well as social channels, that are visited by your audience. Meteora recently expanded the features of its advertising platform to include advanced targeting options to include:

  • Keyword allows you to select 10 keywords that are relevant to your business in order to increase visibility.
  • Category lets you choose content categories that are relevant to your industry. Meteora matches this with thousands of websites that your customers have visited.
  • Geo Targeting gives you the chance to reach audience members in a specific city or region, which is similar to AdWords.

Another unique feature that Meteora offers is the opportunity to create mobile ads by simply logging into your account and visiting “Advertiser Controls” under the “Ads” page. After you locate the “Create Ads” blue drop-down menu, select “Upload Banners,” and choose your preferred mobile banner sizes.

Finally, you can also target your audience by where they’ve been within the last week. For example, you could check to see if a potential customer was recently at a competitor’s place of business. You’ll then make a call-to-action in order to convince them to visit your business. If that wasn’t enough, you can even target customers by weather forecasts.

What’s the Deal with Beacons and Sensors?

Whether it’s AdWords or Meteora, proximity and geo ad targeting would be almost impossible without the use of beacons and sensors. But, what exactly are beacons and sensors. And, what are the differences between the two.


A beacon is simply a Bluetooth concept that allows devices to broadcast or receive data to other devices like smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) . In a way, beacons are kind of like using GPS. However, the actions are more precise.

While this technology has been around for the last decade, it was invented in 2006 by Nokia under the name Wibree, Apple’s iBeacon in 2013 created an endless amount of possibilities.

Here’s how BLE works; it’s a one-way communication that allows ads to be broadcast via radio waves. These messages are then sent to mobile devices where the recipient will receive an specified action, such as a push notification.

BLE messages typically contain the following information:

  • UUID: This is a 16 byte string that is used to differentiate large groups of related beacons.
  • Major: This is a 2 byte string where smaller subsets of beacons are distinguished between the larger group.
  • Minor: This is another 2 byte string that will identify individual beacons.
  • Tx Power: This will determine proximity from the specified beacon.

Here’s an example of how a beacon can be used at a brick and mortar location. The apps included on the mobile device will listen for nearby beacons. Whenever the app spots a beacon, it will communicate with the data information (UUID, Major, Minor, TX Power) to the server. With this information, marketers could welcome customers to the store with a push notification, send them special offers, coupons, or a reminder to join their loyalty program.

One of the leaders in digital location management that is employing beacon technology is Yext. The company launched Xone in the fall of 2015 to assist local businesses attract and engage with customers by sharing information like wifi passwords, contact information, and sales promotions through the use of beacons. After customers download the app stores, restaurants, hotels, and financial institutions can not only send real-time information, customers can also store this information, such as a coupon, in a mobile wallet.

Xone is incredibly easy to install, as well. Just peel off a sticker and place it anywhere in the store, like a counter or wall. Bluetooth transmitters take care of the rest by transmitting customizable content to consumers smartphones within a specific radius.


Microsoft defines sensors as “hardware components that can provide your computer with information about your computer’s location, surroundings, and more.” The most popular example of sensors is the Internet of Things which uses sensors to enhance your life. For example, sensors are used to monitor and register changes in everything from temperature, pressure, light, sound, and motion on everyday household appliances when you’re at work or on vacation.

Right now, there two types of sensors. There are those that have already been built into a computer and sensors that have been connected to a computer through a wired or wireless connection.

For marketing purposes, sensors could be used to identify data about your products, such as how they’re being used or sharing the location of a GPS signal.