Since the dawn of the Internet, advertisers have counted on search engines to bring local customers their way through searches performed using search terms containing local or geographical modifiers. Even for businesses that have more than one location in different areas, customers could be reined in by including local qualifiers in the keywords for a site, or by local targeting through nationally distributed ads. These two advertising tactics have proven to be effective, but now there is a third approach—advertisers can talk specifically to local audiences by identifying them according to their IP address, regardless of whether the searchers are using local qualifiers in their search terms.
For example, if you select a specific town for distribution of your ad, then only online visitors located in that town, or people searching specifically for items in that town, will have your ads displayed to them. Google is particularly adept at identifying the IP addresses of searchers so they can display ads targeted toward their geographical area. Companies can reach more people more efficiently through IP-targeted campaigns in specific local areas than they can using a national advertising campaign involving local qualifiers as keywords.
Every time an online visitor searches for a business, an address, or any type of local information, they may be presented with basic contact information, including map locations, at the top of the page. Google also provides access to reviews and ratings of local businesses and services. These search results are prominently displayed, even higher than the typical organic search results everyone has seen for years. Also, major search engine sites often have established partnerships with providers of local information. For instance, Ask Jeeves has partnered with Citysearch to provide online searchers with results targeted toward businesses in their local area.
The Internet reaches a global audience of billions, so putting your advertising in front of consumers in your local area has usually depended on your ability to target local areas within national advertising campaigns, or consumers including local qualifiers in their search terms. But now, with IP-targeted advertising, you can enlist the help and support of major search engines in ensuring that your ad is displayed to exactly the audience you’re trying to reach. Proxy servers and other factors should be considered when evaluating how accurate an IP address is to determining a end user’s location.