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Targeting and Trust Series: Part Four – The Facts About Using IP Geolocation Data

We continue our “Targeting and Trust” series of blog posts, dedicated to why IP-based geolocation data is well positioned to deliver both the accurate targeting digital marketers need for improved response rates and the trust consumers crave in terms of personalized promotions in a non-intrusive manner.

The fourth installment of our five-part blog series digs into the realities of using IP geolocation. Though IP geolocation technology has been around for nearly two decades and is widely used across the globe in a variety of applications, there is still a certain aura of mystery around exactly what this technology is and what it can do. Further, many companies have had negative experiences with IP data providers whose data did not live up to expectations and have, therefore, become disillusioned with the technology’s business potential.

Below we examine the common misconceptions surrounding the use of IP geolocation data and discuss the facts to help you understand the technology’s value and its role in an increasingly location-based digital world.

Misconception: IP-based geolocation data isn’t accurate enough in my country

Many IP providers rely to a large extent on publicly available (free) registration data (i.e. Whois), which is notoriously inaccurate at a city level (less than 50 percent) or even at a country level―and has gaps in coverage upward of 20-to-30 percent where no results are returned.


Digital Element utilizes patented web-spidering technology and 20+ proprietary methods to triangulate the location, connection speed, and many other characteristics associated with an IP address. By combining this “inside-out” infrastructure analysis with “outside-in” user location feedback gleaned from a network of commercial partners, Digital Element can identify where the user actually accesses the internet down to the ISP’s end-point equipment.

Misconception: You must rely on ISPs to get IP geolocation data.

ISPs are notoriously inaccurate in keeping the location information of IP addresses updated in their registries. In fact, most either don’t report location information in the Whois registries or only report the address of their corporate headquarters.


Digital Element’s proprietary technology traces how traffic is actually routed over the Internet; how routers are connected; and the speed between routers. Then, the data-science team uses this information to triangulate where end-point equipment is located. The company’s technology does not rely solely on data-sharing relationships with ISPs.

Misconception: Because IP addresses are dynamic, it’s impossible to provide accurate geolocation information.

Since most IP addresses are dynamically allocated to some extent, this creates a problem for IP data providers that are solely reliant upon ISP/Whois registration information, as noted above.


Digital Element bases its mapping on where known pools of dynamic IPs are located. ISP dynamic re-allocations tend to be within those known pools of IP addresses, and the geographic allocation of pools actually remains fairly constant at the ISP end-point equipment level. With more than 10 trillion IP lookups per month, the company is able to pick up IP address reallocations the instant they occur.

Misconception: IP-based information is not as comprehensive as other forms of geolocation data.

Alternative, non-IP based geolocation technologies exist that may provide more granular location information―on small slices of the Internet. They often involve data-gathering techniques that rely on user-provided registration data, cookies, GPS-obtained latitude/longitude coordinates, or HTML5, etc. However, these techniques are far from comprehensive.


Digital Element’s IP Intelligence and geolocation solutions can provide a comprehensive, non-personally identifiable view of a user’s location within a 3- to 5-mile radius for virtually the entire Internet.

Misconception: Premium IP Intelligence and geolocation solutions are too expensive.

Most IP geolocation vendors simply repackage publicly available (free) Whois registration data and some supplement with user-supplied data, allowing them to offer discounted IP solutions. However, these are not reliable methods for accurate geolocation when used in isolation.


If coverage, accuracy, and granularity are important, then IP Intelligence and geolocation technology that integrates multiple methodologies, such as Digital Element’s, is the right solution for your business.

As a digital marketer, it’s important to fully understand some of the major differences between IP geolocation solutions and realize that not all IP data providers are created equal.

In Part Five, the final piece of this series, we reveal the many different ways IP geolocation can be applied to your marketing efforts.

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