IP Targeting: Understanding This Essential Marketing Tool

Contact AccuData today to incorporate IP targeting and geofencing into your strategy.

There’s no denying that marketing is a competition– often, the biggest difference between a customer choosing your brand (or, your client’s brand) over a competitor’s is simply a strong marketing campaign. A campaign that reaches the right eyes, at the right time, with the right message.

Modern marketers have discovered the key to strong campaigns: personalization. This process is all about getting specific with which potential customers they’re contacting and how. We’ve seen this in data marketing overall, cookie-based marketing (something you’ll read more about in a bit) and more recently, IP targeting and geofencing.

IP targeting and geofencing provide a level of specificity previously unfound in marketing. Marketers are able to send the best possible advertisement, to their exact target customer, through that customer’s own tech devices.

This guide will explore the basics of IP targeting and geofencing through the following points:

If you’re aware of where your knowledge gaps lie, feel free to jump down to a specific section using the navigation above. If not, continue reading for a comprehensive exploration. Let’s get started!

Learn the basics of IP targeting.

What is IP Targeting?

IP targeting is a method of digital marketing that involves targeting consumers using their IP address and delivering online advertisements accordingly. It’s a hyper-focused effort through which you can target the exact audience for your brand based on their physical address and put your advertisements directly in their line of sight.

It’s fully based on one small line of information that each device on an internet network is equipped with– an IP address. Put simply, IP targeting campaigns send digital advertisements to devices associated with that particular IP address. Whether a laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, an IP targeting campaign allows you to send advertisements to each device that is connected to the WiFi network in mind.

These efforts can be used to target both businesses (for example, using the IP address of a business as a whole) and individual customers (for example, using the IP addresses associated with specific households).

What is an IP address in IP targeting?

What is an IP address?

An IP address, or Internet Protocol Address, is a unique numerical code that is associated with each internet-connected device on a computer network. It looks like a sequence of numbers separated by periods, and it identifies all of the devices accessing a certain network at any given time.

Without getting too in-depth, an IP address is used when your device (such as your laptop, cellphone, etc.) accesses an internet network. Your computer follows a built-in set of protocols that determine how information is sent out and routed in the right direction. When that happens, your IP address is used as an “electronic return address” ensuring the information you requested from the internet is delivered back to your device.

This is what an IP address looks like.

In marketing, an IP address is used to target consumers on a specific internet network, by sending advertisements to the IP addresses accessing that network. Your advertisement can follow the “electronic return address” to deliver the exact ad you want, to devices at the exact location you’re trying to reach. It’s basically direct mail, delivered digitally!
Understand why your business should use IP targeting.

Why should you use IP targeting?

IP targeting is one of the most targeted marketing techniques you can employ to spread the word about your (or your client’s) product or service.

Consider the following examples:

  • You’re trying to market a local event that will likely only be accessible to people in the community in which it will take place. With IP targeting, you can send ads only to those in the general location of your event– increasing the likelihood your ads will result in ticket sales and reduced spend (you’re not paying for ads to uninterested audiences).
  • You’re trying to increase foot traffic to a local business. Similarly, use IP targeting to send appealing ads through networks in that locality.
  • You’re trying to increase business within a certain demographic. Say, you’re trying to reach the college-aged demographic for your next marketing campaign. Sending your ads to IP addresses associated with college-wide WiFi is one way to do so!

More than likely, there’s a way to tie your next marketing initiative to a particular subset of IP addresses. When you do so, you’ll more effectively target consumers with your next campaign. You’ll be able to run fewer ads and experience higher engagement with the ads you run. The case for IP targeting builds itself!

Understand the basics of using IP targeting in your marketing strategy.

How do you incorporate IP targeting marketing into your strategy?

Depending on the marketing budget you’re working with, one of the best ways to incorporate IP targeting into your overall strategy is to add it to a full multichannel campaign.

For example, AccuData saw a regional bank drastically increase new client relationships using a campaign that targeted local consumers (within a two-mile radius of each branch location) by IP address, direct mail, and email. By identifying the ideal target market (in this case, homeowners within a certain age range, income, and interest in investment) and the mailing address, email address, and IP address of each person within that, the bank was able to put physical and digital ads into the hands of their exact desired audience.

In this example, the IP targeting refers to the digital ads that were served to devices of the target market. For your strategy, you can rely on IP targeting and digital ads as your main source of advertising– especially if you’re targeting a younger audience (like college students) less likely to be receptive to direct mail. Or, you can incorporate it into a larger marketing strategy as one aspect of your promotional efforts.

Learn the basics of geofencing.

What is geofencing?

Similar to IP targeting, geofencing delivers digital advertisements to tech devices within target households. However, instead of targeting those households using their IP addresses, geofencing uses property plat line and verified GPS data.

Essentially, virtual boundaries, or geofences, are drawn surrounding a designated location that you’d like to advertise within. When a phone, computer, or tablet connects to the internet while within the geofence, the device ID is captured. Then, the advertisements are shared to all devices within that location.

Here's how geofencing can fit into your marketing strategy.

How do you incorporate geofencing into your digital marketing strategy?

Geofencing technology can be applied to your marketing strategy in a variety of ways, depending on the audience you’re hoping to target. For example, you can use it to connect with:

  • Address-specific audiences. Addressable geofencing (like AccuData’s Addressable GeoFence solution) matches postal address data with verified GPS and property plat line data to identify only specific homes or businesses. This allows you to serve digital ads to all tech devices within the geofence boundary you’re targeting, pairing digital marketing with direct mail.
  • Mobile audiences. There are two different ways that you can use geofencing to target mobile audiences. First, you can use it to serve digital ads to consumers in real -time, while they’re located within your geofence boundary. Additionally, you can use it to “follow” individuals after they leave the geofence boundary, sending digital ads to those individuals who visited your target location for up to 30 days after they have left. These processes are initiated as soon as the individual begins an internet session while within the boundary. These solutions are ideal for reaching music fans attending a concert, sports fans at a big game, conference goers, and even consumers that visit competing locations.
  • Venue-specific audiences. With Venue Replay, which uses geoframing technology, you start with chosen locations (venues) and date ranges during which your target audience was present at the locations— for example, a local conference center and the dates of a major event. With this information, you can collect the individual device IDs that were on the premises during the event. Then, you can locate the IP addresses associated with those device IDs (and any other connected devices in each individual attendees’ homes), and serve digital ads to them.

Geofencing can be used independently, or to supplement your other campaign efforts. To learn more about how geofencing works, explore AccuData’s location-based targeting FAQ page.

Explore a few frequently asked questions about IP targeting.

IP Targeting and Geofencing: Frequently Asked Questions

Are IP targeting and geofencing legal?

Is IP targeting legal?

The level of specificity offered by IP targeting and geofencing also comes with some controversy. While incredibly popular among digital marketing professionals, there have been questions around where IP addresses fall in light of data protection regulations. There are questions around whether these addresses are classified as personal data, and if so, whether they should be protected as private information.

Information declared personal often has to be stored and used according to strict regulations, but IP addresses represent a grey area in the definition of personal information.

IP addresses are individual to each internet router, so they can be followed back to the owner of the internet connection. However, IP addresses need to be public, in a sense, to work– they’re created to interact with public sources (like websites), after all. This has long been debated and is stricter in other countries than the U.S. In the U.S., the general consensus is that targeting is not illegal as the information is inherently public.

That being said, it is a good idea to be mindful of regulations surrounding data targeting in more strict areas of the world, just in case.

Understand the differences between cookie targeting, IP targeting, and geofencing.

Cookie Targeting versus IP Targeting and Geofencing: Which is better?

If you’ve spent any time surfing the internet, you’ve likely encountered cookie-based targeting— if you’ve ever “accepted” cookies, you fall into this group.

Put simply, cookie targeting is when you place a piece of Javascript code on a website. When a visitor accesses the website, an anonymous code is dropped into their web browser making it “cookied.” When this visitor later leaves the website, that small bit of anonymous code alerts ad retargeting platforms to serve advertisements to that visitor corresponding to the pages they visited on the website.

At one point, cookie targeting was lauded as the powerhouse of digital marketing– but now, IP targeting and geofencing take the cake. There are a few reasons why this is true:

  • With cookie targeting, each “cookie” is attached to a webpage and not your website overall. Adding this code to a wide variety of web pages can be time and effort-intensive.
  • Often, a relatively low volume of visitors is in a cookie targeting campaign at any point. It’s fully based on who visits your site and which pages they visit– so low-traffic pages are doing nothing for this type of campaign.
  • Cookies are deleted as soon as a site visitor deletes their browser history.
  • It’s impossible to know who is accessing a web page from a particular browser. If someone that is not the owner of the device uses it to access the internet, you could end up targeting the wrong person (the device owner) with cookie-based retargeting later on.
  • Cookie targeting is susceptible to non-human visitors, such as web crawlers and click farms. This leads to wasted marketing dollars due to ad-targeting bots.

Explore the reasons why you should use IP targeting instead of cookie targeting.

There are many reasons why cookie targeting is a flawed practice, each of which IP targeting improves. The most important and timely reason, however, is that many browsers are beginning to recognize and block cookie-based ads. We’ve seen that Safari is defaulting to blocking all third-party cookies and that Google Chrome is on track to do the same within the next two years.

Think about it: with Apple products dominating the market and Google Chrome being the preferred browser for many, businesses and agencies relying on cookie-based ad retargeting are about to lose access to a huge population of potential consumers. Pivoting to IP targeting and geofencing now not only improves your ad retargeting efforts in general, but also prepares you for a future when that’s the only option.

Continue reading for a few best practices when doing so.

These are best practices for IP targeting and geofencing campaigns.

Best Practices for IP Targeting and Geofencing Campaigns

Understand your IP targeting criteria.

Clearly define your targeting criteria.Criteria are an essential component of IP targeting.

The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to holding an IP targeting or geofencing campaign, so your best bet is to begin with an examination of what you’re hoping to achieve with the campaign. Which demographics are you hoping to reach, and where do you think that demographic will be accessing the internet?

This means the literal device your target consumer uses to access the internet and the physical location where that device is located. Consider the following criteria examples:

  • Geographic location. If you’re looking to draw more local consumers, associate your campaign with specific geographic parameters.
  • Household type (apartment, home, college campus). For example, you could tie a campaign targeting college-aged students to a campus WiFi network or you could target the same campaign to households with college-aged students.
  • Specific businesses. This is helpful if you’re looking to market to employees at a specific business or consumers of a specific business that may access its public WiFi network.
  • Specific industries. Criteria targeting trade shows and conference attendees is a powerful way to market to professionals in a specific sector.
  • Consumer demographics. For example, age and gender can be great targeting criteria for some products.
  • Noted interests. This includes targeting the consumers of those with interests related to your product, such as an outdoor recreation company targeting individuals with a known interest in national parks.

These very general criteria are a great place to start. You’ll likely want to narrow down these parameters even further, or even layer a few criteria to paint a picture of your perfect consumer. For example, a campaign targeting older college-aged students could narrow by geographic location as well as household type (ex: homes rented by college students located close to campus).

Avoid over-targeting in your IP targeting strategy.

Avoid over-targeting.Choose only a few criteria for your IP targeting campaign.

While IP targeting and geofencing are lauded for their specificity, there’s always the chance your campaign can have too much of a good thing.

While we encourage narrowing down your criteria, it’s also important to avoid over-specifying to the point of exclusion. If your target criteria are too specific, you’ll cast a small net. Even if highly successful, you’ll likely have a lower conversion than you could with a wider-targeted campaign.

One good rule of thumb is to limit your targeting criteria to two or three parameters. As your campaign progresses, you can learn which targeting criteria have been most successful for your goals, and which haven’t. Then, you can adjust your strategy using different criteria going forward!

Let’s look at an example. In this campaign, AccuData’s goal was to quickly and efficiently increase banking relationships and new checking account holders for a regional bank. They did so by developing a multi-channel campaign including IP targeting with the following criteria:

  • 10,000 homeowners living within a 2-mile radius of a branch location
  • Ages 28-64
  • Household income of $75K or more
  • Interest in investing

They could have chosen other, more specific criteria to tie this campaign to, such as choosing a tighter age range or tying the campaign to gender. However, the four criteria chosen were just enough to have massive success for the campaign.

Consider A/B testing your IP targeting campaign.

A/B test your targeting efforts.Use A/B testing in your IP targeting campaign.

One common practice in marketing overall is A/B testing, and that holds true for IP targeting and geofencing.

A/B testing involves running two similar campaigns with slight variations, and examining which one has the highest success for your organization. Then, you refine your overall marketing efforts to align with the more successful campaign and launch the wide-scale effort.

In terms of address- or location-based targeting, marketers can refine their targeting criteria using A/B testing. Deploy the same campaign to two slightly different populations, each with different target parameters. We recommend making small changes to your target parameters, changing only one criterion at a time to truly isolate which aspects affect your campaign.

Tying back to our previous banking example, some A/B test criteria could be:

  • Age range of 28-47 or 48-64 versus 28-64.
  • Household income of $100K or more versus $75K or more
  • Female audience versus male audience.

When you use A/B testing, it’s important to make incremental changes to your criteria. Making huge changes to the campaign will make it difficult to understand which criteria made a difference!

Effective ad copy is just as essential as IP targeting.

Employ effective ad copy.Perfect your ad copy for your IP targeting campaign.

You could have the most effective targeting strategy possible, but if your ads themselves are less-than-stellar, the campaign isn’t going to work.

It’s easy to get caught up in the specifics of IP targeting or geofencing and discovering your brand’s perfect audience. Ensure that you’re putting just as much effort into creating the ideal advertisements for that audience as you are into discovering them.

This is another area where A/B testing is helpful, as you can create advertisements and test them on two analogous segments of your consumer base to see which are most successful. The ads with the best response are the ones you should use when sending out communications.

After you’ve put in considerable effort toward determining the best possible way to get your ads in front of your desired consumer, it would be a let-down to lose that consumer due to sub-par messaging! Being mindful in your copy creation is key to preventing that.

Work with a data team experienced in IP targeting.

Pair with a team of IP targeting and geofencing experts.AccuData can help your business with its IP targeting campaign.

IP targeting and geofencing are more advanced marketing maneuvers than many marketing professionals have likely tackled on their own. It involves the coordination of internal business data and external third-party data– which can be overwhelming for even the most experienced of marketers.

Working with a team of dedicated IP targeting and geofencing experts is one way to make sure your campaign stays on track. For example, AccuData’s services include:

  • One-to-one digital marketing for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer campaigns.
  • The match of loyalty lists and prospect lists at a 90% or greater confidence level.
  • The generation of monthly reports with detailed information regarding the number of impressions and clicks for campaign success tracking.
  • Access to the best postal and email data, targeting options, and mapping capabilities so your brand can incorporate IP targeting or geofencing into a larger multichannel strategy.

AccuData also offers three unique geofencing services, including:

  • Venue Replay: Using a similar technology, geoframing, this service allows you to target audiences who were in a specific location at a specific time.
  • Mobile GeoFence and Mobile GeoFollow: These services allow you to target supporters while they’re on the go, immediately as they access the internet while in your geofence boundaries and for up to 30 days after the fact.
  • Addressable GeoFence: This allows you to partner your direct mail campaigns with digital marketing, sending digital ads to devices at only the households on your mailing list.

When you’re working with new technology, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Bringing on a team of marketing experts is key to success in a location-based targeting effort.

To learn more, contact the AccuData Integrated Marketing team today.

IP targeting and geofencing are powerful tools in digital marketing, allowing businesses to send ad campaigns directly into their desired customer’s hands. When done correctly, these campaigns can have major success for brands looking to increase their reach– and these best practices are a great way to begin optimizing the process.

For more information on IP targeting and geofencing, explore these additional resources:

Contact AccuData today to learn about their IP targeting and geofencing services.


Written by Gabrielle Perham, MBA