Geofencing and Geotargeting: What’s the Difference, And How Can it Work for My Brand?

July 24, 2019


Geofencing and geotargeting are opportunities for marketers to reach target physicians and patients at key locations. Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, geotargeting and geofencing are distinct capabilities. With geofencing, brands can create a virtual barrier around a location using the GPS of a user’s mobile device.. Any person within the identified area can be served an ad on numerous devices such as mobile phones, tablets and desktop devices.  Where geotargeting can take this capability a step further is by serving ads only to individuals who meet certain criteria within a defined radius. Specific targeting criteria can include demographics, behaviors and interests. We can also target on an HCP level, based on NPI number or other individual identifiers, within the identified location of interest. On the patient side, we are also able to overlay DMA information, Crossix data, or other consumer demographic information to identify specific consumers within a given location, as long as there is opt-in consent for that location data, provided via additional notice regarding advertising uses of data through the publishers we are working with. With the changes above rolled out in late Q2, there are several opportunities for pharma to increase awareness within the patient community.

Geofencing and geotargeting can be a strategic fit for brands in a variety of situations. Medical conditions influenced by location, such as allergies or viruses, can be better managed with information that takes location into account. During conferences/key meetings brands can target locations as large as a city or as small as a convention hall.  The ability to choose the scale of reach allows brands to define their strategy and access their target customers. Another prime example would be targeting health specific locations (hospitals, treatment centers, pharmacies, etc.) to reach HCPs, patients, formulary decision makers and pharmacists with pertinent messaging at the point of care.  In addition to location, timing is of utmost importance as part of the strategic build of a geotargeting or geofencing campaign. Working with the previously mentioned examples, a campaign can be set live during the day(s) of a conference/key meeting or target patients at pharmacies near target list HCPs offices.

Additionally, on both the HCP and DTP side, a campaign can be broadcasted to institutions during a brand approval or during the release of new insurance/formulary updates.

This POV focuses on four examples where brands have utilized geofencing or geotargeting in different scenarios. Represented below are four different suppliers who have helped CMI/Compas build campaigns for the following use cases as well as an example of using geo-targeting to deploy specific messaging to patient populations:

  • To generate awareness (geofencing)
  • To drive target HCPs to (geofencing)
  • To increase script writing (geotargeting)
  • To capture patients at the point of care (geofencing)

Please note that there are a multitude of supplier partners who exhibit geofencing and/or geotargeting capabilities. The four programs detailed in this POV were chosen as they provided examples of different strategies.

Use Case 1: To Generate Awareness for a Launch Brand – Geofencing

Campaign Objectives: CMI/Compas partnered with a major publisher to help a brand that was preparing to launch a product for flu treatment that could only be administered in hospitals.   The brand chose to target HCPs, hospital workers and pharmacy buyers in hospital locations that were identified, by the brand team and the publisher, as high indexed flu areas.

Results: Using the publisher’s geofencing technology, the campaign generated over 3.5 million impressions at 1,388 hospital locations within the predetermined high indexed flu areas. The campaign also generated a clickthrough rate of 7.22% (255K ad clicks) and resulted in 67 PDF downloads of an order form.  By strategically targeting high indexed flu treatment centers, the brand was able to drive awareness and ultimately generate action by key targets.

Use Case 2: To Drive Target HCPs to – Geofencing

Campaign Objectives:  CMI/Compas worked with a publisher to set up a geofencing campaign for a brand who was lacking traffic to their site that they would have liked to be generating on their own. The brand team, marketing a meningitis-b vaccine, decided to surround the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Meeting in Orlando Florida from November 2 – 6, 2018.

The campaign targeted user devices within the convention hall during the conference. Users who were initially targeted within the conference venue were then retargeted and sent additional messages for up to 60 days following the event.

Results: The campaign drove 1.4MM impressions during the conference and in the 60-day retargeting period following the conference. The campaign generated 2,376 clicks to across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices resulting in a clickthrough rate of 0.17%. By targeting HCPs surrounding the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Meeting, the brand was able to gain relevant website traffic from HCPs who were interested in the branded information.

Use Case 3: To Increase Script Writing – Geotargeting

Campaign Objectives: CMI/Compas partnered with a supplier to help a brand increase script writing behaviors of low and no-see HCPs through an NPI targeted campaign using mobile banner brand messaging. Ads were served to low and no-see HCPs when they were using personal mobile devices within the proximity radius of predetermined point of care facilities. An underlying objective of this campaign was to drive low and no-see HCPs to; by driving HCPs to they would become familiar with the brand and ultimately write more scripts.

Results: The 6-month campaign targeted 1,000+ unique locations and generated 1.5MM impressions.  The campaign had a clickthrough rate of 0.22% and grew average time on site by 50%. The unique HCP visitors to the site also increased to 450 per month versus 30 per month prior to the geotargeting program launch.  Most significantly, campaign data suggests, the campaign increased scripts written by 2X during the program promotion. Time sensitive deployments based on diagnosis triggers had a positive impact on script lift as the campaign was responding within 24 hours of receiving event data.

Use Case 4: To capture patients at the point of care – Geofencing

Campaign Objectives: CMI partnered with a supplier to set up a patient campaign that focused on targeting patients at pharmacies in the vicinity of our target list physicians’ offices. In addition to target list HCP offices, they were also triggering messaging to patients that were within Urgent Care locations. To further target this buy CMI/Compas applied our patient demographic of ages of 30-54 to ensure we are reaching a patient that is more likely to convert to product. For this buy we included all ad sizes for implementation however due to the nature of the targeting the ad that triggered most frequently was the 320×50 size.

Results: Over the 4-month period, the campaign delivered over 31MM impressions. The campaign click-through averaged 0.20% which was well above our campaign average of .14%. Overall the program was able to drive more site conversion garnering 1.5x more coupon downloads than our endemic contextual targeted buys.

Using Geofencing and Geotargeting for Your Brand

As documented in these five use cases, geofencing and geotargeting campaigns provide strategic opportunities for brands to accomplish a variety of goals. Geofencing allows brands to broadly target a key area and achieve brand objectives by serving ads in a relevant time and place. It is important to note that with geofencing, a brand may reach people beyond those targeted within the campaign objectives. For example, physicians and other non-physicians may enter the geofenced area and receive the brands messaging. This may not be a huge concern for campaigns that are casting a wide net, but if hyper-targeting is of importance to the campaign, geotargeting is likely a better investment.

Geotargeting campaigns can accomplish the same objectives, but in an even more efficient manner by only targeting specific HCPs and patients based on demographics, behaviors, interests or NPI number (personal identifiers). Another point to consider is the personal management of location services on physicians’ devices. If a physician or patient turns off their location services, they would not be able to be reached with brand messaging. This would not negatively affect the overall performance of the campaign; this specific target would simply not be reached. Geotargeting is also not simply limited to specific partners or tactics. CMI/Compas can geotarget with creative if creative availability exists. Placing the geotargeting solely in CMI/Compas’ hands allows us to have complete control over what DMAs are active and gives us better insights for the overall campaign.

Through our research we have found that supplier partners offer a wide variety of campaigns that can be suitable for almost any budget or brand initiative. We are believers that provided the appropriate creative assets, geofencing or geotargeting campaigns can have a positive impact on a brands marketing effort.  Generally, required creative assets include banner ads in the sizes of 300×250, 728×90, 300×50, 320×50.  There are cases where custom assets, such as short videos, can be accepted as well. If you are interested in learning more about geofencing and geotargeting for your campaigns, please contact your CMI/Compas representative.