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7 Tips for Location-Based Trade Show Advertising with Google Ads


How do you promote your business at a trade show? Aside from attention-grabbing booth setups, you can reach attendees via their mobile devices with highly targeted Google Ads. 

Location-based trade show advertising builds brand familiarity with an extremely relevant audience in a few ways:

  1. If you’re attending the trade show, mobile marketing can bring more visitors to your booth and raise awareness of your brand.
  2. If you’re not attending the trade show, you can still serve ads to attendees to get your name out there.

That’s right - you don’t even need to BE at a trade show to run ads at a trade show. You can reach prospects without leaving your facility! 

That said, while running trade show ads remotely seems like an easy solution, we don’t recommend playing hooky for all trade shows. Trade shows are fantastic opportunities to speak with prospects in person, create connections with prospects and vendors, and scope out competitors and industry trends. They’re basically a concentrated pool of potential customers, and they can create incredible ROI if approached correctly. Location-based advertising is a tactic that should support a comprehensive trade show marketing strategy, not replace it.

Sound good? Here are some tips for successful location-based trade show ads via Google Ads.

7 Tips for Location-Based Trade Show Advertising with Google Ads

1.  Choose your campaign type

You can run all kinds of ads via Google Ads, including search, display, and video ads. 

Display and video ads are ideal for building brand awareness, especially if your company has strong graphics and media capabilities. These ads will show to users while they’re browsing other apps and websites.

Search ads work well for clicks and conversions. Search ads show to users who are actively researching the keywords you target, which makes it more likely they’ll want to interact with your ad.

2.  Keep your target location tight

Generally, 5 miles is a safe radius to cover the trade show event center and nearby hotels and restaurants. You won’t want to spread your reach much farther than that since your relevant audience is probably not spending much time away from the event center.

3.  Set your start and end dates

It won’t do you much good to run ads while the trade show isn’t happening. I also like to set the start date for the day before the trade show to catch travelers who come in a day early.

4.  Target mobile devices

Most trade show attendees are not going to bring their desktop computers along for the ride. Targeting mobile devices only will help filter out people who live or work in the area but aren’t attending the trade show.

5.  Narrow down your demographics

It’s very, very rare that manufacturers and B2B companies want to target 18 to 24-year-olds as marketing prospects. Typically, the target audience is middle-aged or older and established in their career.

You can exclude, deprioritize, or  certain demographics in Google Ads, including age, gender, and household income.

6.  Use trade show-specific language in your ads

Your ads will catch more eyes if they speak to something prospects care about. If they’re at the trade show, the trade show is going to be highly relevant to their interests. Call it out in your headlines and descriptions, e.g.:

  • Attending [Trade Show 20XX]? Visit us at booth #XXXX for an exclusive surprise!
  • Don’t miss your chance to win [Cool Thing] at [Trade Show 20XX]!

7.  Set up retargeting for users who click on your ads

Trade show advertising doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Once attendees go home, you can use retargeting to keep your name in front of anyone who clicked on your ads. 

You won’t want to follow them around the internet forever (30 days is usually a good retargeting window) but you do want to keep them warm just in case. Retargeting is typically very cheap compared to other types of advertising, so there’s no reason NOT to do this.

How else can you make your trade shows more successful?

Location-based advertising and geofencing are only one component of a successful trade show marketing strategy. You should also consider pre-trade show promotion, lead generation, email follow ups, and more. 

Check out these resources for more information:

6 Pre-Trade Show Email Templates You Should Be Sending
6 Social Media Tips to Promote Manufacturing Trade Shows
How to Re-Engage Trade Show Leads After the Show
Trade Show Email Marketing Best Practices


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