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PMG Digital Made for Humans

Location, Location, Location (Depends on How You Pinpoint It)

2 MINUTE READ | July 16, 2014

Location, Location, Location (Depends on How You Pinpoint It)

Talk to any advertising network or vendor about their mobile geotargeting capabilities, and you’d think they are an offshoot of the NSA in knowing where everyone is at any time. In reality, and unfortunately, they are more like Keystone Kops when it comes to accuracy and precision of their targeting.

There are many ways used to get a user’s location, including:

  • GPS

  • WiFi

  • Geo-search

  • Mobile IP

  • Registration data

  • Location-based content

  • Cell tower

  • Caller ID

Obviously, from the list above, you can see not all methods are equal. The truth is that different vendors have different methodologies, and it’s important you vet each of them to understand just how well they will be able to get to your desired consumer.

Today, we’ll focus on why IP address targeting, even though it falls in the middle of the continuum above, is a poor way of going about mobile geotargeting. It’s important to understand this because for most publishers, this is their “most accurate” measure, which should not be good enough for you.

Targeting by IP address is inaccurate for three primary reasons:

  1. Users connect to multiple IP servers throughout the course of a day.

  2. Between checking your email at home on your phone, and running into Starbucks to plopping yourself down at your office chair, you have probably connected to several WiFi networks that are shared by multiple users. Think about if you’re traveling, and connect to the airport WiFi, or if you attend a technical conference, and everyone’s hogging bandwidth on the too-slow network provided.

  3. IP addresses could also resolve to a carrier IP address, which is very inaccurate.

This is not to say that IP address targeting is completely useless. It’s only useless if used as the sole way of identifying location. Instead, ask if networks or publisher is able to combine that with other, better methodologies such as lat/long truncated to a zip code. Doing so will start your campaigns off on a much better foot, and require less time to learn what’s not working and allow more money to be spent on effective targeted placements.

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Now, if only the NSA offered CPA pricing…


Posted by David Gong

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