A deep dive into the accuracy of IP geolocation databases and its impact on online advertising Articles uri icon

publication date

  • August 2023

start page

  • 4359

end page

  • 4373


  • 8


  • 22

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1536-1233

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1558-0660


  • The quest for every time more personalized Internet experience relies on the enriched contextual information about each user. Online advertising also follows this approach. Among the context information that advertising stakeholders leverage, location information is certainly one of them. However, when this information is not directly available from the end users, advertising stakeholders infer it using geolocation databases, matching IP addresses to a position on earth. The accuracy of this approach has often been questioned in the past: however, the reality check on an advertising stakeholder shows that this technique accounts for a large fraction of the served advertisements. In this paper, we revisit the work in the field, that is mostly from almost one decade ago, through the lenses of big data. More specifically, we, i) benchmark two commercial Internet geolocation databases, evaluate the quality of their information using a ground-truth database of user positions containing over 2 billion samples, ii) analyze the internals of these databases, devising a theoretical upper bound for the quality of the Internet geolocation approach, and iii) we run an empirical study that unveils the monetary impact of this technology by considering the costs associated with a real-world ad impressions dataset.


  • Computer Science
  • Information Science
  • Telecommunications


  • ip geolocation; geoip; online advertising; performance evaluation