Using Geo-IP To Tailor Content Delivery

GPS imageIn last week’s webinar on holiday marketing, Jason Billingsley and I discussed the potential for online retailers to use Geo-IP targeting to serve specific content to different site visitors based on their geographic location. In this post, I’d like to recap the ideas mentioned in the webinar.

When your browser requests content from a website’s server that uses geo-ip techonolgy, it’s checked against a database to determine your country, region, city or even latitude/longitude and content is delivered based on your location. When you visit a web portal, for example, and you see your local news or weather appearing – this is geo-IP content delivery in action. This is just one example, but there are ways this can be effectively used on ecommerce websites:

Target By Country

If you have multiple websites targeted at individual countries, you can simply redirect visitors to the appropriate site when they click a link to your .com site or type it in directly into a browser.

Or you can detect when a visitor is from a different country when they land on your .com site and inform them of your nationalized site like Amazon:

Amazon for Canada

Or American Eagle:

AE screenshot

AE Canada

If you have only one e-store you may wish to show different visitors different content. For example, the US and Canada have different Thanksgiving dates. You may only offer free shipping in your home country and you don’t want to “tease” international customers. Or, you could show international customers pricing in their own currencies:

Fair Trade Coffee in UK Pounds

It’s also possible to pre-select registration and checkout forms for exceptional usability:

Preselected Location

Target By City

You can take this even further with regional or city targeting. For example, certain cities have their own celebrations:

Mardi Gras in New Orleans:

Mardi Gras

Or even sports teams:

Patriots Home Page

An electronics retailer could show New Englanders a page “cheer on your Giants with HDTV.”

Another good reason to show different content to different cities is the fact that weather and lifestyle can differ from region to region. It may be a winter wonderland in Vermont but does it really make sense to feature snowblowers on your home page to visitors from Florida?

IP Location Service Providers

If you’re interested in applying this functionality to your site, there are third-party providers for geo-IP targeting, including:

ISAPILabs Country Locator

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13 Responses to “Using Geo-IP To Tailor Content Delivery”

  1. Linda, I forgive you for saying the New Englanders would be cheering on the Giants – I hope it was joke but I understand – you just aren’t a football fan. :)

    I could have edited the post, but it was way too funny to edit out seeing how you completely handed off the football discussion during the webinar.

    I’ll add, Sitebrand [] is another more specific option for delivering marketing content with Geo-IP sensitivity.

  2. I know, I know, it’s the Green Day Giants. My Bad :P

  3. Thanks for the interesting post.
    I personally like to be able to at least change the location, the server speculates where I am.
    Recently I came across a few sites that employed automatic translation because they (rightly) thought I am in Germany. But the translation was absolutely incomprehensible to me and there was no way to tell the system, to just show the english original text.
    I don’t like to be domineered over by someone else.

  4. Great post. IP targeting is very powerful beyond PPC.

    Do you have more examples of sites that are using IP targeting? Good or bad.

    Also the complaint from Peter is so painfully valid for many sites. They only make half an attempt to offer sites in another language and make it simply awful. Another point he brings up is about the option to not switch to a different location. A Canadian colleague told me of similar issues.

  5. @ Peter – great point. It’s recommended that if one is going to offer a translated version of the website, that they work with people who can speak the native language of the country fluently to provide quality assurance. I would never trust translation software.

    I recently heard someone translate “Take me out to the ball game” – which is a classic baseball song out here in North America – into German and back to English using software. This is how it came out:

    Original: Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd…

    Translated: Execute me to the ball play, execute me to the masses!

    @ Ron,

    I will keep my eyes peeled for more geoIP examples and hopefully have enough to do a follow up post. One thing I noticed Best Buy does is take me to a home screen that has a Canadian flag and US flag with links to the Canadian English site, Canadian French, or US English or Spanish. I’m not sure if US visitors see that screen or just see US English/Spanish version?

  6. Josh says:

    Just wanted to point out another provider, Quova, which is used by one of the sites in this post.

  7. Awesome, thanks Josh, I’ll add it to the post as well.

  8. Dom says:


    I use geo targeting on my web site How can I fake my IP (other country or city) so I can check on the ad campaigns to make sure they deliver properly?


  9. Jon says:

    @ Dom,

    technically you can’t spoof your IP address, because that’s how the server knows where to send the request. You might be able to find an internet proxy in the area in question, or if you have access to the source code, manually override your IP address to the various countries for testing.

  10. kingphp says:

    if possible, please offer related php code.

  11. Jon says:

    You can use a proxy through IE/FF internet settings. Here is a page listing some public proxies around the world:

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