Although most Web browsers can return general IP information to the server so that site owners can target ads, products, etc. towards visitors, these are usually relatively general and non-specific. Melissa Data, based in California, hopes to fix that with their IP Locator Object.
Available as an API or Web service, the tool identifies user’s geographic location down to country, region, city, latitude and longitude, and even ZIP code. It does this without invading privacy, as all of this information is public when parsed.
Several uses for an object like this are possible. From simply pre-populating form data or automatically choosing languages to reducing credit card fraud or filtering hackers and spammers. All are possible using the tool.
Using the test tool on Melissa Data’s website (http://www.MelissaData.com/findIP ), however, raises questions. Namely: how is this better than what browsers can already do?
I live in Boca Raton, Florida, but my ISP is actually based in Miami. Melissa Data’s web-based tool pinpointed me as being in Miami rather than Boca Raton. I asked a friend to try it where he lives and he was mis-placed from Wyoming to Colorado.
So far, this tool is 0/2.
Most good shopping cart systems now can already do this and there are free scripts for targeting page delivery to geographic IP. Tools like ActiveTarget, IP2Location, and others have been doing this since 2007.
As an addition to the Melissa Data suite of solutions, however, it is a long-overdue app that has a good place in their lineup.
Melissa Data is a data quality solutions provider headquartered in California. They have been around since 1985, specializing in bulk mail, customer contact, and postal automation services through both stand-alone and Web-based apps. Earlier this year, Melissa Data services acquired M1 Data and Analytics, a telco data “411” service.