Programmatic geotargeting: how does it work?

A good ad is worth nothing if the right person doesn’t see it. When we target programmatic ads, we think about who, what, when, where, and why. But today, we’re zeroing in on the where of programmatic advertising.

Let’s talk geotargeting.

Remember traditional advertising?

Old-school advertising basically had two geographic settings. You could either target nationally—good for big brands, bad for just about everyone else—or target “locally” via a designated market area (DMA). This sort of targeting was fine for some situations, but there were a lot of targeting needs that weren’t met by the DMA model, perhaps because their product or service wasn’t relevant throughout the DMA and needs more granular targeting.

Programmatic geotargeting includes the national and DMA targeting options, but there are numerous other ways to target. Here’s a partial list of ways we can geotarget:







Latitude & longitude

Using location data for hyper-specific targeting


Modern smartphones are built with apps that collect location data and tie it back to targetable campaigns. We can get pretty granular with this—for example, by serving ads to people within a few blocks of a retail store, right on their phones. Or a political campaign can target people in a particular state, town, or district, using general awareness ads during the campaign and switching to more specific messaging as Election Day gets closer.

A note on the targeting data: none of this is personally identifiable. Rather than tracking individual people, programmatic geotargeting uses aggregated data stripped of personal information to target whoever might be in a certain location.

So what’s the best way to use geotargeting?

The short answer is “it depends.”

The slightly longer answer is “use the type of targeting that does what you need it to do.” We’re agnostic when it comes to types of targeting; rather than favoring one tool over another, we start by understanding your business goals, your brand, and your target audience. Once we understand who you need to reach and what you need them to do, we l work backward to find the most precise targeting to maximize your ROI and strengthen your brand.

In an ultra-saturated digital world, you can’t afford to spend your advertising budget on irrelevant targets. We have the expertise to provide highly specific location targeting as part of your overall programmatic advertising strategy. If you’re ready to reach people exactly where you need them, contact us to find out how THRONE can help.

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