Geo-targetting web advertising


Last week we had a number of marketing agencies pitching for an exciting project, targetting people that live or work in Medway.

The demographic groups we’re trying to reach mean that using the web is vital as part of the overall marketing mix.

One of the topics that came up for discussion was targetting web advertising by location – and how accurate it is for targetting people in a specific city location.

The first way this can be done is by using IP addresses – looking at the city where an individual’s IP is registered. The assumption here, and it’s a big one, is that your ISP is based in the same town as where you live.

I can’t find any data on this, but my gut feeling is that this isn’t especially accurate. My ISP is based in London, but I’m actually based around 70 miles to the west.

How does this technique work for you? Check out your IP address here, and then look up the city it’s registered in using the IPInfo tool at

The second way that web advertisers offer geo-targetting is through the use of registered user information. This only works for sites where registration is needed – the data you input when you register is used to more accurately show geographically relevant adverts.

This is good because it’s inherently more accurate than IP targetting, but the limitation is that it only works for sites that require users to register.

You could target a specific location by buying advertising on a site where the content targets a specific area – for example a local newspaper site – but the nature of the web means the traffic coming into such a local site isn’t guaranteed to be local.

So, I guess if you need to target a geographical area using web advertising, don’t assume the targetting is foolproof. If anyone can find any hard stats on how accurate it can be (and I’m guessing the answer is “it depends”), I’d be keen to be pointed in the right direction.

It’s worth remembering that advertising isn’t the only way to target people in a specific area on the web. Social media presents a myriad of opportunities for other ways to approach people locally using locally targetted content – so if web advertising doesn’t do the job, take a look at using social media.