No matter your industry, IP targeting helps you get your ads in front of the most promising customers and clients. Whether it’s central to your digital marketing strategy or you’ve just begun to realize its power, you know that it can mean the difference between gaining or losing a new or returning customer.
But with IP targeting’s power comes ethical and legal considerations. As a relatively new marketing strategy, it’s easy to get lost in its effectiveness and not explore some questions you should discuss with your team.
Because IP targeting makes it incredibly easy to send tailored ads to potential customers and clients based on their IP address, some business leaders, ethicists, and tech watchdogs have raised concerns about its specificity in hyper-targeting humans.
These individuals and groups raise their questions around the area of data protection and privacy, which is where IP targeting comes in. Are IP addresses considered private data and thus afforded the same protections as other personal data?
Legally speaking, your personal data, such as financial data and medical records, are stored safely and securely under extremely rigid regulations. IP addresses, meanwhile, are not subject to these regulations, and therefore are not classified as protected personal data. This means it is free to be used by marketers to connect with their customers in the United States.
In short, it’s completely legal for marketing and business purposes. If you’re looking to connect with audiences overseas, check with the laws of that country to determine if IP addresses are protected data in that country.
In many cases, businesses need to know their audience’s location to sell them goods or services—but is there a limit on exactly how specific you can go?
For example, if a potential customer is in their office, a business may send them a work-related ad based on that location. Once that customer leaves the office and returns home, the business can send that same client a slightly different ad, with different language, to match their mood at home versus when they’re at work. It’s simply another way of sending your customers the right message at the right time, using actual data instead of making an educated guess.
A related form of IP targeting is geotargeting, or sending ads to an individual when they enter a specific area. A company or organization can place a geofence around a specific point and serve up ads directly to the phone of a user who enters that location.
Imagine walking into a dog park and receiving an ad on your phone to support a local animal shelter. Or entering a stadium or arena and being sent an advertisement for the team shop.
Geotargeting works on the premise that the individuals entering that area have a vested interest in your products or services. Again, you’re simply serving relevant information to those who are likely to be receptive to your offering.
As with any type of marketing, it may take some fine-tuning to reach your ideal audience – the people who are curious and receptive to your offering. Those people who raise their hands in response to your ads want more information and can be moved through the buyer’s journey.
Know also that not everyone you target will want your messaging. Like with any other type of marketing, you will always have individuals who don’t wish to see your messaging. If you’re a non-profit sending out a direct mail solicitation, you know you’ll receive requests to be removed from your mailing list. You expect this to happen, knowing that for every unsubscribe request, you’ll likely receive 100 (or more) favorable responses.
IP targeting puts the power of direct ads in the hands of organizations across virtually all sectors. As long as you’re not using IP addresses to harass or stalk your customers, there are no legal limitations to using IP targeting in the United States.
Consumers have gotten used to seeing ads online related to their recent searches, or receiving emails from ecommerce sites based on leaving items in their shopping carts. IP targeting is simply another tool to use to connect with your audience with information relevant to them.
If you’d like to discuss how Associates International can help you ethically and effectively show your customers best-in-class ads—or discuss IP targeting’s ethical and legal implications—reach out to us today.
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