Are Your Geotargeted Ads Reaching the Right Audience?

Whether you have an online business or an offline store, if you don’t get the targeted audience to connect with your brand, all efforts go in vain. Just imagine, you’re running a campaign to attract traffic from India, and people from South-East Asia are engaging with your ads. This will not only attract people from outside the targeted market but also result in the wastage of your advertising budget on irrelevant results.

Imagine as a marketer what kind of a digital advertising disaster it is.

With the ever-evolving digital ecosystem, the solution to reach the right type of audience at the right time is now a reality. Geo-targeted advertising helps marketers show up at places where their ideal audience is browsing. But just like every coin has a flip side, there is a second side to this.

But before we go ahead, let’s understand the meaning of Geotargeted advertising.

What is Geotargeted Advertising?

This is a type of advertising where the location data is used to reach consumers. In geo-targeted ads, the messaging is appropriate to the location and behavior of the customer. With the help of this advertising, marketers can connect with user-appropriate content based on the information acquired from the consumers’ location.

When consumers allow the location-tracking option in the apps on their phones, geotargeting advertising will help to show ads based on their actual location. This can be a very effective advertising method for QSR businesses. They can target their ads to customers who live in proximity and encourage them to visit.

In conclusion, geo-targeted ads help advertisers plan and execute more targeted and relevant promotions, resulting in increased engagement.

Every Shiny Thing is Not a Diamond

Geotargeted ads sound like the best solution for every advertiser. It ensures to reach the targeted audience and give good engagement. What else is required?

Sadly, there is a flip side to geotargeted advertising. Below are a few stats that explain better why geotargeting is not just all good things”.

  • According to a data verification firm Location Sciences, approximately two-thirds (65%) of media spending on location-based ads goes down to waste because of misdirected targeting. Almost 29% of the media spending on geo-targeted ads resulted in delivering impressions outside the geotargeted area. Whereas 36% was wasted because of poor-quality location signals.
  • 36% of the top GPS-enabled apps were found to display location fraud.

The geo-targeted ads are less optimal because of the simple inaccuracies in the geodata. In the case of GPS, the location data is estimated based on the proximity of the public WIFI hotspots when a GPS signal is not present, or a user has not given consent to use location data. These inaccuracies can show a difference ranging between 1 km to 1,000 km.

On the other hand, IP addresses are only accurate enough to identify a user in a state, city, or neighborhood. But it may not be efficient to locate a user within a range of meters or feet. The IP addresses are often dependent on the Internet Service Providers located in a neighborhood or are dependent on the type of connection like a cable modem or cellular connection.

Fraud In Geotargeted Programmatic Ads

Ad fraud in geotargeted programmatic media buying is a huge problem that costs billions of dollars. And it is estimated to get bigger with time as the ad spend increases in the digital ecosystem, especially in the media targeting local audiences.

As compared to direct media buying, there are different levels of risk involved for marketers when using geotargeted programmatic media. In programmatic advertising, geotargeting refers to the targeting of users based on the approximation of their geolocation. This is usually analyzed by estimating their location according to the respective IP address. However, in the case of direct media buying the local media outlets put ads on the websites of local publishers. And in the case of direct media buying the audience is usually the people residing in the city, region, or designated market area.

In geotargeted programmatic ads, the fraudsters commit ad fraud by making their bots appear from different geolocations through a variety of techniques. One of the common ways to manipulate the geodata is by using proxy IP addresses to appear in specific geolocations. Further, the advertisers running ads in programmatic will be tricked into paying for ads that are shown to bot traffic pretending to be in the geographies targeted. To make the activity look real, the fraudsters also activate activities like page views, clicks, downloads, and other parameters. This makes the engagement look believable and further gives encouraging but false reports of the campaign.

Are Google Ads also targeted by fraudsters?

Some advertisers often face the issue where their ads show in areas that haven’t been selected as geo-targeted areas. Does this mean that even on Google ads geotargeted fraud can happen?

Maybe no. Just like everything, there are some exceptions.

For instance, you have a local pastry shop in Paris so your geo-targeted area in Adwords is in Paris. However, when looking at the IP list in Adwords you notice that the clicks have come from all parts of the country and sometimes even outside.

Some of the few possible reasons can be:

Case 1: Mismatch in IP Address and User Location

This is one of the common cases in geo-targeting that confuses. The IP addresses are assigned by the Internet Service Provider to analyze the user’s location. Google uses the location of the IP addresses and ISPs to decide where to show the ads.

However, Google also admits that the IP locations may not be the same as the actual location of the user.

According to research conducted by Search Engine Land, two errors manipulate the location data within Google. One is a false positive where it appears that the user is in Paris when they are not. Another is a false negative where the user might be in Paris, but according to the search engine, they are not.

Case 2: Mobile Device Problem

Another case shows that the mobile devices connected with a service provider instead of were less accurate in terms of location as compared to the devices connected with a Wifi. In some cases, the device and the actual location were approximately two thousand miles away and, in some cases, it was in different countries.

Case 3: Location-Specific Searches

Let’s say a user lives in Barcelona and planning a trip to Paris and they want to explore the best pastry shops in the city. So, they may search for terms like best pastry shops in Paris” or local pastry shops in Paris”.

In this case, a discrepancy in the IP address is prevalent as the user is searching for a location where they are not currently located.

How Mfilterit Solves Geo-Targeted Fraud?

To solve discrepancies in your Geo-targeted ad campaigns, we at Mfilterit put a pixel in your creative to analyze the IP addresses clicking on the ad. Further, we ensure that whenever a campaign is running for a specific region and we get traffic from outside that region, we mark it as Geo Fraud.


Finally, you can look back and move ahead from the days of fraudulent IP addresses clicking on your ad and draining your ad budget. Geotargeted ad fraud is one amateur-level scam that fraudsters have cracked and fed on it for the longest time.

To protect your ad spending and reach the right audience, start deep-diving into the data and analyzing unusual patterns in your campaigns to prevent geo ad fraud early. And if you are still confused about how to proceed, take the help of an ad fraud detection and prevention solution provider like Mfilterit.

Get in touch to learn more about the Geotargeted Ads.


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