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Separating myths from facts about an IP address geolocation service

IP address geolocation services has always had a certain level of mystery about them, in this blog, we discuss and separate the myths from the facts.

IP address geolocation is a service that has been around for quite a while now, and is increasingly growing in popularity among SMBs and enterprises. Still, there remains a certain aura of doubt and mystery regarding the service which overtime has lead to a myriad of commonplace myths. Due to their long-standing nature, it’s not always the easiest task to dispel these, even if you’re reasonably familiar with the mechanics of IP address-based geolocation. Fear not, however, as we’ve compiled a convenient list for you that clearly separates the myths from the facts.

Myth #1: IP address geolocation services are just not accurate enough

In truth, the precision of IP address geolocation relies on a number of factors. These range from whether users are utilising masking devices such as proxies and VPNs, to exactly what device they are using to browse the internet with. IP-based geolocation tends to rely mainly on free, publically available data which can be imprecise on a more micro level. As such, the more generic the data you’re requesting is, the more accurate it will be. That being said IP addresses are still the most reliable way to go about it (as you’ll soon see). Our IP based geolocation services have an approximate accuracy of 99% at the country level, 90% for states and 80% for cities.

Myth #2: There are other forms of targeting that are far better than IP address geolocation

Now, there certainly are a number of alternatives available, but are they in fact better? Cookies, registration data, GPS location information and HTML5 can provide the basis for several non-IP based geolocation services, but they come with their own litany of challenges. For instance, user-supplied location information hinges on user agreement - which they are more loathe to give than ever these days, and even then its accuracy is questionable. HTML5 suffers much of the same fate, except that it requires the user to opt-in with each new web session.GPS is undoubtedly accurate, but again it depends on whether the user is willing to give permission. Cookies, on the other hand, are able to store previously-entered location information but are at risk of being deleted at the user’s discretion. Moreover, cookies tend to carry around a negative stigma of being intrusive and invasive around with them, a stigma that may well trickle into your brand itself.

Myth #3: Retrieving data from IP address geolocation service relies too heavily on ISPs

ISPs generally have a range of IP addresses that they work with, and these are delegated to different users as they connect to the network. ISPs are a bit infamous when it comes to maintaining location accuracy for IP addresses stored in their registries. On top of this, close to 5% of IP addresses are reallocated on a monthly basis due to actions like router restarts. With ISPs having no real financial motive to maintain an up-to-date registry of IP address locations, it’s justifiable to say that one cannot consistently rely on ISPs with regards to geolocation. This is why our geolocation services obtain user location information through JavaScript by making a request from the visitor’s browser onto our server. And hey, since this method is used to derive an approximate location - and not an exact one - no browser permission is required!

Myth #4: IP address-based geolocation has no place in the mobile space

Many businesses believe that without an opt-in there’s no way to target mobile users. Essentially, the myth is that you need users to have location-based services (LBS) on and that you’re shut out should they decide not to hop on. Fortunately, IP address-based geolocation provides a simple solution to this, opening up the possibility to locate and target mobile users as they log in to the ever-expanding network of rate and speed-friendly WiFi networks.

Myth #5: Mobile is too transitory for IP address-based geolocation information to be valuable

Movement is an inherent aspect of mobile - it’s in the very name after all. At first glance, this may seem like an issue, but in reality, it can provide businesses with some valuable insight into their users. For example, a user who frequently jumps between airport and hotel connections can be reasonably identified as a frequent traveller. Businesses can develop a more expansive targeting strategy based on this IP geolocation data, in combination with demographic and lifestyle trends.

Myth #6: IP address geolocation service intelligence is solely about location

Location identification is important, but savvy marketers can uncover far more through IP addresses than just that. You can discern a user’s connection speed as well as type - distinguishing between WiFi networks and cellular connections, whether it’s home or business - based on which businesses can further improve their targeting by opting for even greater personalisation.

Here’s a quick look at our IP address-based geolocation software that can help your businesses up their marketing efforts right away.

24th October 2019

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Chad T. - Web & Digital Media Director

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