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Old 02-18-2006   #1
integramed
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Do we all live in Virginia?

I've been playing with adwords geo-targetting and it's not always what you might expect. I'm in NY, but my Verizon IP address space is registered in Reston, VA - so I see VA targeted ads - lots of 'em. A friend lives and works in Boston. At work he's on a NY registered IP address, so sees NY ads. At home he sees MA ads. Clearly Google is trying its best, but ultimately must use IP registration data for geo-targeting. It seems like a lot of address space is registered in VA. When we're on the Net do most of us live in VA ;-)
Does anyone know the exact rules for IP registration?
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Old 02-18-2006   #2
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Short answer: AOL is based in Virginia, and uses Virginia IP addresses. If you use AOL from Texas, you will be assigned a Virginia IP address. Google uses your IP address to figure out where you are.

Lots of people use AOL. Thus lots of people appear to be in Virginia, which explains your results.

Followup answer to your next obvious question: No you can't fix it, as far as I know. I do see that Google allows you to register certain IP's as belonging to different areas, but that would not help a surfer, only a website, and I've never tried it with a website personally (though I'd like to test it one day).

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Old 02-18-2006   #3
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AOL acts like a proxy, so anytime you use AOL it is goinng to show AOL info.

GEO location by IP is not perfect by any means, but it works for most people in the world most of the time.
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Old 02-18-2006   #4
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Sure, I realize the situation with AOL, but I'm not on AOL, I'm on a Verizon FIOS connection.
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Old 02-18-2006   #5
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I have the same problem with my Verizon FIOS IP address. When I had DSL it correctly recognized my location in Boston, but now Google thinks I'm somewhere in Maryland or thereabouts.
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Old 02-18-2006   #6
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I found my IP address and then looked it up. Sure enough, all Verizon addresses in the range: 72.64.0.0 - 72.95.255.255 are registered in Reston, VA. So that explains why I see lots of VA ads even though I'm in NY. I assumed Google used a more sophisticated geo-algorithm than simply looking at the registeration location of the IP address. Clearly, this method could fail often, yes?
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Old 02-20-2006   #7
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AOL has long been an issue with Google and IP targeting, one they've kind of dismissed as a non-issue when it's a biggie. However, it may be that given the new deal between Google and AOL we might see AOL giving Google better IP targeting informtation. AOL knows the exact address of everyone using its system, and it could find a way to pass that info to Google if it wanted. Speculation on my part that this will come, however. So far, I've seen nothing written about it.

Last edited by Nacho : 02-22-2006 at 01:30 AM. Reason: No edit needed, I hit Edit instead of Quote. Post restored to original statement.
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Old 02-20-2006   #8
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Yes, agreed, AOL is a major example, but the problem seems to extend well beyond AOL. In the course of testing local targeting for our national network of clinics I've come across several examples of folks seeing the "wrong" ads - and none of our people are on AOL - including myself. Two major "non-AOL" siutations that I've found so far:

1. Company offices around the country who are on a corporate network and therefore use IP addresses of their corporate headquarters. Google 's geo-targeting sees these employees in the state of their corporate office irrespective of their actual state. And serves ads accordingly.

2. Other ISPs who register their IP spaces out of state (Virginia of course being the major example.) Google's geo-targeting considers their users to be in the registration state. So take my example, my ISP (Verizon) has registered in VA. I'm a Verizon customer in NY, but I see VA ads.

I'm not sure what the solution to all this is. But, geo-targeting should be done with care, and should be checked carefully. I like to think of geo-targeted regions as peppered with "holes" - the holes being people you think you are reaching, but you're not because of exceptions like AOL and the examples above. Are there more holes?
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Old 02-20-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by integramed
Yes, agreed, AOL is a major example, but the problem seems to extend well beyond AOL. In the course of testing local targeting for our national network of clinics I've come across several examples of folks seeing the "wrong" ads - and none of our people are on AOL - including myself. Two major "non-AOL" siutations that I've found so far:

1. Company offices around the country who are on a corporate network and therefore use IP addresses of their corporate headquarters. Google 's geo-targeting sees these employees in the state of their corporate office irrespective of their actual state. And serves ads accordingly.

2. Other ISPs who register their IP spaces out of state (Virginia of course being the major example.) Google's geo-targeting considers their users to be in the registration state. So take my example, my ISP (Verizon) has registered in VA. I'm a Verizon customer in NY, but I see VA ads.

I'm not sure what the solution to all this is. But, geo-targeting should be done with care, and should be checked carefully. I like to think of geo-targeted regions as peppered with "holes" - the holes being people you think you are reaching, but you're not because of exceptions like AOL and the examples above. Are there more holes?
I agree it has a lot of holes.... but it does work well enough to imrpove your numbers when doing local search.... better than the addition of the location name - though that is another way that should not be ignored.
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Old 02-20-2006   #10
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Well, assuming that Google's geo-targeting works as simply as we think it does (i.e. they lookup your IP in the WHOIS and use the IP registration address as your local address), then we have a few "creative " possibilities. For example: want to target all AOL users? No problem, just run an ad in a 1 mile radius around the AOL office in VA. Perhaps we have a whole new type of targeting here ;-)
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Old 02-21-2006   #11
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AdWords Targeting

You can also target AdWords by a defined radius or latitude & longitude coordinates.

Still, as mentioned it is based on IP.

You can however create a national "local" campaign where the targeting is based on a geographical qualifier in the query i.e. "Waltham Hotels."
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Old 02-22-2006   #12
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We've implemented MaxMind to geo-target with banner advertising and other funky stuff. They have an awesome IP database that is always current. You may want to give that a shot.
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Old 02-22-2006   #13
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Thanks Nacho. I guess the only way to solve this problem is to use technology like this, which is based on "real" user entered location data. Of course, this will not solve the Google geo-location issues discussed in this thread unless Google implements this type of solution. Interestingly, I notice they list Google Analytics as a customer, but not Google AdWords. Kinda strange?
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Old 02-22-2006   #14
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I'm wondering if a Google engineer has been reading this. The geo-targeted Adwords ads I'm seeing are now for greater Boston, not someplace in Maryland/Virginia. The geo-targeting still isn't right yet because I actually live in a Boston suburb and some ads I have targeted for that suburb do not show.
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Old 02-22-2006   #15
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I'm wondering if a Google engineer has been reading this
It is a sure bet...
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Old 02-22-2006   #16
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It's possible I guess. With Google's immense engineering and financial resources you gotta believe they will provide the very best geo-location possible. That's why I was surprised to find the issues we've discussed here. But, perhaps the solution is difficult, even for Google. In my mind the real issue is all the large ISPs who have IP pools registered at one location (usually in VA) and who then dynamically allocate IPs to their users everywhere. Geo-location by IP WhoIs lookup can never work in this situation because it's not targeting end users, it's targeting ISPs! Some other solution is needed. Anyway, I'll check my situation from home tonight to see if things have improved. I live in NY but have been seeing lots of VA ads.
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Old 02-22-2006   #17
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Originally Posted by Nacho
We've implemented MaxMind to geo-target with banner advertising and other funky stuff. They have an awesome IP database that is always current. You may want to give that a shot.
We use the same thing but it is built into Atlas that also does our ad serving.
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Old 02-22-2006   #18
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Originally Posted by cline
The geo-targeting still isn't right yet because I actually live in a Boston suburb and some ads I have targeted for that suburb do not show.
Google knows this. There have been issues since inception that are not worked out. It's far from perfect.

However, they are way ahead of anybody else with their technology. And it still performs quite well.

MSN....where are you??? Anyone get their API yet? Hope you have some nice demos at SES.
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Old 02-22-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Mendez
Google knows this. There have been issues since inception that are not worked out. It's far from perfect.

However, they are way ahead of anybody else with their technology. And it still performs quite well.

MSN....where are you??? Anyone get their API yet? Hope you have some nice demos at SES.
The API is out in a very limited test and should be more available in the next couple of months.
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Old 02-23-2006   #20
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VA Clicks

Oh, so that's why my ClickTracks software reports that VA is delivering the largest number of clickthroughs....beating out NY, CA, etc...didn't make sense until now.
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