Cool Tools: IP Address Ad Buys

There are quite a few options to choose from when it comes to spending digital ad buy budgets: buying ads on social platforms (Facebook and Twitter), Google services (Youtube, Adwords, Keyword targeting), buying email lists, or third party ad buys (including IP address targeting).

Facebook’s services allow for some pretty nuanced targeting to serve each ad to segments based on interests, gender, age, location, and page likes, to name a few. This process of narrowing and filtering can narrow groups from 10 million down to 800. Google also provides nuanced demographic data to select when delivering video or keyword ads.

When geo-targeting ads on each of the above, currently in Canada, location can only be narrowed to the first three digits of a postal code (some postal code aren’t even available yet). First three digits might seem quite narrow however, they can include 10s of thousands of potential targets and when targeting political ridings they can be problematic because boundaries aren’t based on postal codes (they are based on street address). Moreover, the ads will be served to all the people surfing the net in that area — businesses, hotels, and office towers. Whether paying per-click or per-impression, an investment is made to people outside the target market.

One way around that is expanding the advertising buy to platforms other than social media and onto websites, individuals in your target area are visiting.

IP address targeting has been around for a while now and Canadian campaigners might want to consider it as a viable option for granular targeting. Digital ad firms are able to serve ads to household IP address networks. The addresses are cross referenced with a campaign or corporations data so targets can be served ads with messages that suit their demographic data.

Because the ads are served at the household level, rather than postal code, people passing through the area won’t be served up ads that aren’t for them.

IP targeted ad buys are priced slightly higher than traditional social media ad buys — however, they just might be the best option for your cause.

How does it work?

Every network on the internet is assigned a unique IP address. The address uses your geographic location, which is how Google maps can place you on a map, airline companies can guess your departure city, and streaming services know what programs to serve up.

Large scale databases of IP addresses are owned by third party ad firms. The addresses are cross-referenced with other purchased data, both public (E.g. the US voter file, or census data) and private (E.g. credit card data, subscriptions, etc). Providers are able to glean more information about the IP targets this way — all of this data belongs to the firm delivering the ads.

Your campaign provides your dataset and targets to the firm and they will match it with their IP addresses and serve ads only to the people specified.

Any segments built into your data can be served custom ads. For example, different levels of support can be served different ads.

There is a higher impression rate expected for individuals than other ad buys, at least 8-10 impressions in a two-week period or about 20 in a month are recommended. The ads need to be memorable so the impression goal is high because when surfing the internet it’s going to take a while before you even notice there is an ad there.

Where do you see the ads?

Just about anywhere on the internet.

Ads are delivered via advertising networks that arrange for the ad space to be available on sites around the web. The IP targeting contractor arranges with these networks to serve your ad to your target that visits that site. If your target visits the Toronto Star and the Food Network they might see your ad in both places. Another person, who frequents the Weather Network might see your ad there. You won’t waste impressions on people who aren’t in your targeted data set on any website.

There is some control what sites ads will or won’t be served upon — for example, inappropriate or X-rated sites are avoided to stop any conflation between your ads and the content.

Like with all good digital work, A/B testing is worked into the ad schedule on video pre-roll and banner ads. Frequent reports help you decide if the message or images need to be changed, if the landing page is suitable, and if the ask is correct. Any firm will be able to quickly swap content.

Privacy vs. Micro-targeting

At this point, your privacy concern radar may have been flagged.

It appears there’s a lot of personal data used in this process. There really is, but this is also data that individuals have agreed to give away based on the Terms and Conditions of websites, customer loyalty cards, credit cards, etc.

It is a similar process to how Facebook and Gmail serve personalized ads to users. New social networks are bought and sold for billions of dollars because knowing more about consumers online habits is almost priceless to marketers.

For many campaigners it’s an uphill battle to get digital ad buys on the budget for and privacy issues can be a valid concern groups have.

These ad buys should be thought of in a different light — as a campaigner you want to purchase ads where people are spending the majority of their time. One IP targeting firm even markets their data on TV watching to serve political ads to those who aren’t watching traditional television anymore seeing the need to reach people.

With more people spending more and more time on their digital devices your message needs to reach them there.

Is it worth it?

The very basic principle of IP address targeting is this: You provide a firm with a list of addresses — they target those computer networks.

If your campaign is looking for new ways to reach the unreachable (people without phone numbers, email addresses, televisions, or social networks) this is a great option. It’s a slightly higher price than your standard social media ad buy but the ability to target in nuanced ways is far more accurate.

Since this is quite new, it’s unknown how many IP addresses have been identified (or purchased) in Canada — however, there are enough in most major centres that IP targeting has become a plausible option for Canadian campaigns.

Of course, this should be just one part of a full-scale digital ad buy. Setting those budgets might be hard if you’re new to digital organizing — let us help you out!

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