Geofencing

An opportunity
& threat to event
organisers

I love the look on people’s faces when they hear about geofencing for the first time. Their eyes widen as if to say “jeez, that’s scary!” or “George Orwell’s Big Brother is real!”

Whether it scares you or not, if you’re in event marketing, you need to know about it because it presents both an opportunity AND a threat.

So what is Geofencing? Let’s bring any newbies up to speed quickly. Geofencing is sometimes referred to as Location-Based Mobile Advertising or Hyperlocal Mobile Marketing. Those of us who don’t like to utter unnecessary syllables like to call it geofencing – Rolls off the tongue a little easier, don’t you think?

In essence, geofencing creates a virtual perimeter, which uses GPS coordinates to deliver advertising to mobile devices inside it.

How does it work?

The vast majority of event attendees use location-based apps and services on their mobile devices, which transmit their precise location to 3rd parties (from Facebook and Google Search through to your Weather app – and millions of others) when you access their website or app on your mobile device.

This allows platforms with advertising capabilities to target you based on your exact location (within a five-meter radius), making geofencing possible. Advertisers can then target specific advertising to you based on your location and the time of day. Ever notice adverts for a nearby restaurant’s lunch menu start showing up late morning as your breakfast energy starts to wear off? Or conveniently receive a shopping centre’s map as you walk through the entrance?

As if that wasn’t enough, the advertising platforms used to deliver geofencing to a specific location and specific times can also retarget people for months after they were inside the geofence..

What does this have to do with event marketing?

Imagine a geofence set up around your exhibition/conference halls, the event car park or around the nearby hotels where your visitors and attendees are staying. Now imagine that 80% of people within that geofence – if they check their phones – will be delivered multiple mobile ads based about your event.

Geofence around the NEC Exhibition Halls and the specific car parks that visitors were using on select days.

Geofence specific hotels that the visitors were staying in near the NEC.

Q: Where is the opportunity?

A: Organisers can create significant revenue streams by allowing event sponsors and exhibitors to target their advertising to event attendees.

Digital Sponsorship – Add geofencing to your existing sponsorship packages – along with your traditional sponsorship offerings, e.g. in addition to signage, ads in show guides and logos on your event website and app, you can offer them the ability to target almost everyone that accesses their mobile device at and around the event.

Exhibitors – Similar to your new digital sponsorship offering, you can offer geofencing packages to exhibitors as a digital solution to help drive foot traffic to their stands, promote their freebies and parties etc.

In both cases, after the event, you could offer your Sponsors and Exhibitors the chance to retarget visitors/attendees. This could be as simple as a message from your sponsor saying ‘Thanks for attending ABC, looking forward to seeing you again next year!’

Q: That sounds great! So where is the threat?

A: Rogue geofencing

As exciting as geofencing is, there’s no way an event marketer can stop someone else from geofencing their event to advertise and remarket to their audience. This nefarious tactic is called geo-conquesting (that’s right – there’s actually an official word for the geofencing threat).

Here are a few examples of how Geo-conquesting can be used against you:

  • Event Organisers – A competing events company that attracts a similar audience to you can use geo-conquesting to target your audience to promote their own event.
  • Sponsors/Exhibitors – If your sponsors/exhibitors aren’t being offered an affordable, effective geofencing option, they can go directly to a third party to create, run and optimise their own geofencing campaign within your event.
  • Non exhibitors – Businesses that don’t want to exhibit at your event can still tap into your event audience – these non exhibitors are unaffectionately called ‘vultures’ by some organisers. In the old days, these ‘vultures’ would set up in nearby hotels and try to entice your event visitors to meet with them – now, with geofencing, they don’t even need to be nearby.

Summary

The geofencing opportunity for digital savvy event organisers is far greater than its potential threat. What’s important is that event organisers embrace this advertising technology and figure out how best to monetise its benefits.

Beyond just serving hyper targeted ads over a set period of time during the event, we’re able to remarket to people who were within the geofence for weeks, even months, after your event. This allows you to keep engagement going and make the most of your event spend.

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We’re a global team of B2B Event Marketing Specialists who pride ourselves on helping Trade Show Organisers, Exhibitors, Conference Producers and In-house Event Teams to grow your event, solve your digital marketing challenges, and maximise your return on investment

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