Geofencing vs. Geotargeting

Out of all the confusing digital marketing jargon that gets tossed around, the conflation of geofencing and geotargeting is particularly common. Both involve targeting potential customers through paid advertisements in a specific area, but they greatly differ when it comes to their methods and purposes.


When it comes to getting certain people to see your paid ads, geofencing helps you isolate your ads to specific locations. Geofencing refers to creating digital barriers around the areas you want to place your ads. You can do this by using GPS or IP addresses of web users in your local area, making sure your ads show up where you want them to on people’s computers, laptops, phones, and tablets. The reason the term includes the word “fencing” is because you can highly control the radius in which your ads appear.

While this strategy relies solely on physical location, it can be used very strategically. For instance, if you want to gain more college students at your practice, you can geofence around your local college campus. You can also create geofenced ads near your competition that highlight the ways your practice stands out. By doing this, you can give people who may need to drive a little further to get to your practice a reason to choose you over the closer option.

Geofencing is typically relatively small in scope and is meant to reach a very specific spot on the map. While it is highly effective for increasing visibility where you want, it is also relatively involved and expensive compared to some other strategies.


Whereas geofencing uses precise targeting based on physical location alone, geotargeting reaches consumers by using location along with other factors like demographics, behaviors, and interests. So rather than isolating consumers based on location, you are isolating based on the type of consumer. Location is still a factor in geotargeting, although instead of picking a specific location and creating a designated radius, you are casting a larger net over your local target market area. For instance, instead of targeting a neighborhood, you might target an entire town or quadrant of a big city.

The benefit of geotargeting is it allows you to attract a patient who might be a be able to choose a closer orthodontist, but who also wants to choose an orthodontist with a good military discount. Or, you can specifically target young professionals who may be interested in Invisalign.

Both geofencing and geotargeting have their uses for orthodontic practices, but different types of orthodontic practices can benefit more from one or the other. The key is to pay attention to your marketing analytics along with your client history to see where it is you could benefit from growth. The type of niche market you appeal to can also have an effect on which strategy works best for your practice. If your specialty is early orthodontics, you may want to geotarget parents. If you offer affordable payment plans, you could geofence in lower-income regions. By doing some self-exploring and going through some trial and error, you will discover which strategy works best for your practice.  

Ortho Sales Engine specializes in marketing solutions for orthodontists, combines more than 20 in-house services to create customized, repeatable marketing systems, and serves as a trusted partner to doctors and their teams. To learn more or schedule a free consultation, visit