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IP Targeting Strategies to Reach Highly Specific Audiences

Justin K. Jun 17, 2019 Marketing

Most people experience IP targeting on a regular basis, whether through advertising or localization efforts.

For example, you’ve probably searched for a product on Google only to see advertisements across social media. Websites like Yelp, Netflix, and Google also know your rough location without having to ask you. These capabilities are all enabled by mapping your IP address to profiles or geographic locations.

Let’s take a look at some common IP targeting strategies that enable businesses to reach highly specific audiences.

What Is IP Targeting?

Every device or group of devices that connects to the Internet is assigned an IP address that typically refers to its geographic location. While traditional IPv4 addresses are composed of four numbers separated by decimal points, IPv6 addresses incorporate numbers and letters separated by colons, which greatly expands the supply of addresses.

Most consumer devices, such as a laptop or smartphone, are assigned a unique IP address by their internet service provider. On the other hand, many businesses use a single IP address. Devices on most corporate networks connect to an intranet that provides internet access through a single access point. This means that targeting individuals is different from targeting businesses with advertising or marketing campaigns.

While IP addresses are effective in most cases, there are some instances where they aren’t an accurate representation of an individual or business. The use of proxy servers and virtual private networks, or VPNs, can obscure IP addresses. It’s important to account for these edge cases when developing advertising and marketing campaigns.

IP Targeted Advertising

IP targeted advertising has become popular over the past several years. By associating IP addresses with individuals or businesses, advertisers can build targeted advertising campaigns with a higher return on investment than conventional advertising campaigns. The problem is that some of these practices are controversial.

Download our free checklist of IP targeting strategies that marketers can use to enhance their return on investment.

Download our free Checklist

The most popular way to associate IP addresses with individuals is through social media. When visitors use a social media service, such as Facebook, their personal information (e.g. email address and demographic information) is associated with their IP address. A very specific profile is built over time covering everything from their location to interests.

There are many different uses for this level of targeting:

  • Car dealerships may target individuals that are located nearby and potentially interested in buying a car.
  • Politicians may target individuals that have already donated or clicked on an email newsletter link.
  • Universities may target individuals that have visited their website and are located in the same geographic region.

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal caused concerns about targeting very specific IP addresses. For example, many Facebook users were surprised to learn that the company tracked their interests and enabled advertisers to target advertisements to them based on those interests — not only on Facebook but on third-party platforms.


Geo-Targeted Marketing

Geo-targeted marketing using IP addresses is a less controversial way to harness the power of localization to cater to specific audiences without being too creepy.

For example, commerce sites might change their content to cater to local audiences, such as a sports memorabilia retailer targeting its homepage content toward local sports teams depending on the visitor’s state. These approaches to geo-targeting are much less controversial than IP targeted advertising and are actually useful for the visitor.

There are several examples of this kind of targeting:

  • Changing default languages and/or currencies based on a visitor’s country.
  • Showing certain offers (e.g. free shipping) only to visitors in a location that qualifies.
  • Adding or removing products or services based on a visitor’s location.

Unlike IP targeted advertising, geo-targeted marketing is often treated as an afterthought. It’s difficult to quantify the return on investment for localization efforts without properly setting up and combing through analytics.

How to Test IP Targeting

Testing IP targeted marketing and advertising can be challenging from both a business and technological standpoint. Successful IP targeting strategies require a buy-in from stakeholders and proper processes in place for developers.

Download our free checklist of IP targeting strategies that marketers can use to enhance their return on investment.

Download our free Checklist

The first step is developing a test plan to ensure that you’re covering all of your bases. For example, you may want your localization testing to cover things like content, images, and external ad campaigns. You can audit your existing website or application to get an idea of these features or include them in your user stories when starting from scratch.

The second step is implementing a testing strategy. Manual quality assurance testing is a common starting point whereby testers connect to a proxy server and see how the website looks from a different location. However, automated testing often becomes necessary over time as the application grows in size and manual testing becomes more expensive.

The final step is incorporating localization testing and advertising verification into your existing processes. For example, developers may include localization in their user stories and marketers may connect to a proxy server to verify that a geo-targeted ad campaign is running properly.

WonderProxy makes it easy to get started with both localization testing for IP targeted marketing campaigns and verification of IP targeted advertising campaigns.

With over 250 proxy servers across 80+ countries, quality assurance personnel and marketers can easily connect and see how things look for a wide range of states and countries. Developers also benefit from integration with popular testing frameworks that make automation easier, including Selenium and the popular Sauce Labs service.

The Bottom Line

IP addresses provide a valuable way for businesses to reach highly specific audiences with targeted messages. While some forms of IP targeting have become concerning, localization remains one of the most effective ways to improve conversion rates and the user experience.

With WonderProxy, it’s easy to test IP targeting efforts across specific states and countries. The flexible API also enables you to check server status and traffic usage, making testing automation a breeze.

Sign up today to get started!

Justin K.

Justin is a technical writer and developer with over a decade of software development experience.