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IP Targeting: Cool or Terrifying?

Imagine you had a list of addresses. That doesn’t seem farfetched. I bet you have thousands. Direct mail is good. It’s even better when paired with targeted ads online. In the old days you needed people to actually go to your site in order to target them with ads. Not anymore.


You are now able to use your address list to find the IP address associated with each location. Every computer network has a numerical label assigned to it – its IP address. Now through a proprietary service companies are able to match IP addresses to physical addresses with a 60 percent success rate. Direct Mail mail can have a 5.1 percent success rate. That can be even higher when paired with targeted online ads. The ads are targeted only to those on the mailing list, so companies are able to build a true one-to-one relationship.

If that’s not minority report enough for you just wait…

Matching an IP address to a physical address is nice. What about all potential customers whose addresses you don’t have? You can’t leave all that money

on the table. The good news is that it is possible to reverse this process as well. You can create a virtual perimeter around a location such as a stadium, conference, or grocery store. When users visit a website or use an app inside that perimeter their device ID is captured. Then when they return home and connect to their home IP address you can look up their physical address. You are even able to capture device IDs going back six months. The is a great way to find both IP and physical addresses of potential customers.

This is the classic case of just because you can does that mean you should? It all comes down to how much do you respect your customers’ privacy. Presumably you came by all the physical addresses honestly, so serving them online ads really is no different. The ethical questions arise when you are finding addresses simply because someone went online in a certain place. Those people have not opted in at all. Even if they were at your store they still may not want to be contacted by you.

Even though it might take more work it is better to get customers to opt in to communications form you than it is to gather their info surreptitiously.

Sean is a web specialist. He runs the email marketing program, helps in website design, manages social media accounts, and uploads weekly ads. In 2017, Sean started Grocer Podcast, a month show that intends to be another way to get information to retailers. Prior to joining AWG, Sean spent three years as a high school teacher. Sean is an avid cook, sports fan and Kansas Citian.