Embroiled in a battle over perception, IP geo-location tech finds itself looking to make huge ground in 2015 under a premium banner.
Involving the use of IP data to send location-based content to web users outside of a home region, the answer to every international enterprise’s dreams became a nightmare for some, as poor service put a damp note on the technology’s early progress in the 2000s.
Part of the preconceptions over IP geo-targeting’s inaccuracy stemmed from an influx of start-ups that were unable to successfully deliver location-specific content beyond country level. In attempt to answer their clients’ demands by delving deeper into geographical boundaries, into cities and specific territories, small firms came unstuck and their hit rates dropped.
In the news last week was bet365 for its partnership with IP geo-targeting firm Digital Element, which has insisted that things are a little different nowadays, for those that strive for quality service and data accuracy.
In partnering with Digital Element, bet365 has become the first UK bookmaker to offer localised content out to its customers in specific cities.
Details are passed through Digital Element’s own IP Intelligence system, which boasts 97% accuracy at city-level, according to its own data.
“Geo’s been around for years and years,” comments Charlie Johnson, the company’s vice president in the UK and Ireland.
“It’s been used by lots of different companies as a result. But there’s a vast chasm between the different types of providers, and accuracy becomes the big issue. So while lots of people use geo really well, a lot of people don’t believe it works well beyond the country level.”
Initially, it was the process that so many IP geo-location groups adhered to that hindered its evolution.
Johnson highlights that Britain’s ISP infrastructure does not allow someone to find an IP address easily. Budget geo-location providers will use a basic traceroute program or publicly available data which, inherently, doesn’t work.
“If we were to just try and rely on that, we couldn’t do it. So it gives you massive inaccuracies in the UK,” she claims.
“What’s happened typically is that a marketer has said: ‘Let’s do this for St David’s Day; let’s offer something in Wales.’ It all makes sense, and then they go with one of these providers that take free public information and then add a cheap traceroute. They run it, and it’s wrong.”
Word gets around
Bet365 isn’t the only company that’s taken note of IP geo-location’s resurgence. Along with international marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, ad tech providers in Sizmek and DoubleClick have baked Digital Element’s technology into their ad servers for brands looking to broadcast location-based advertorial.
Ad tech providers are what Johnson describes as the “bread and butter” of IP geo-location companies, but there is an argument that smaller firms with reach beyond their home market may also find that city-level targeting is an offer worth looking into.
In online gambling for example, there are a lot of small firms offering very specific bets in territories away from the UK and US. An ability to globetrot, virtually, across to a customer to point out that a sporting event is happening around their corner, may well come in use.
As for where geo-location is heading, a real effort is being put into educating the companies that initially tested the waters - and those that have heard their stories - that proprietary tech, ran through a professional operation, can help them get out to international audiences.
“People used a low-cost provider, realised it didn’t work and then had their fingers burnt,” Johnson adds. “And it’s never a case of just knocking on someone’s door and them believing this sounds good.
“It takes a lot of evaluation to see if the data is accurate before things go ahead. And that’s because of the past experiences that some companies have had.”