By Rob Friedman
Since pioneering the space in 1999, we’ve seen a number of technology companies enter the market, claiming to provide some form of IP geolocation data. However, there are vast differences between providers, both in the technologies they employ and the service models they deliver. It’s vital that marketers know what to look for in an IP geolocation technology so they can achieve the results they need.
Recent customer results analysis from Digital Element points to key criteria marketers should use when evaluating an IP geolocation provider:
1. Coverage: Most vendors claim to cover the world’s routable IP address space. However, some providers have gaps in coverage of 20 to 30 percent of the where country-only or no-response is provided.
2. Accuracy: Accuracy varies widely within the industry, and the more hyperlocal the data, the wider the difference becomes. Country-level accuracy is generally 95 to 99.99 percent for most vendors, whereas city-level accuracy can range from 40-97 percent, depending on the provider.
3. Granularity: If highly granular city or postcode level data is needed, it is important to understand that most vendors do not perform well (or at all) at this level. Most either aggregate traffic into large metropolitan areas and/or provide city-center default postcodes which may be 10 or even 100 miles away from the actual web visitor’s location.
4. Consistency: Getting geolocation data in-house is one thing. Getting it integrated into an existing application is another. Many providers aggregate self-reported data containing multiple non-standardized city responses (i.e. Cologne, Köln, Colone, Koln) which can create large implementation headaches.
5. Technology: If coverage, accuracy and granularity are important, marketers will want to select a vendor that integrates multiple methodologies to cull and verify data, including network infrastructure analysis and user-validated location feedback. Most IP geolocation vendors simply repackage publically available (free) Whois registration data, and some supplement with user-supplied data.
6. Dynamism: Dynamic IP routing can be an issue even for more sophisticated vendors, as some telcos may make more frequent reallocation of IP assignments to address load balancing issues on their networks. Marketers should ensure their provider has visibility into ISPs’ network traffic for instant notification of dynamic IP address reallocation.
7. Verification: Vendors should be able to provide proof of their data accuracy and collection methods, audited through a reliable third-party assessor. Importantly, marketers should be sure that the audit assesses not only the methods used to collect the data, but also the data itself.
8. Reputation: A company’sâ€•and its marketer’sâ€•reputation is at stake with the launch of every campaign. Before applying IP geolocation technology to online initiatives, marketers should look at vendors’ client lists and ask for tangible customer results and successes.
9. Technical Support: As with any mission-critical service, support is crucial to ensure that implementation goes smoothly, and concerns, issues and feedback are addressed in a timely manner. If geolocation data is used for customer-facing applications, then 24×7 support should be a must-have.
10. Data Breadth: Outside of IP-to-geography data, other information such as proxy type; connection type/speed; home/business user; domain name; ISP; company name and more can be impactful data sets for creating an even more meaningful user experience. Marketers should investigate other types of data that can be offered beyond geography.
For marketers, the applications of IP geolocation technology are very similar. However the results they get can vary immensely based on the reliability of the data they’re using.
About the author
Rob Friedman is executive vice president at Digital Element.