Mediaplex Taps RealMapping for Location Targeting

Online marketing firm Mediaplex will add location-based targeting to its MOJO product, thanks to a new partnership with European technology company RealMapping.

According to terms of the deal, of which financial details were not disclosed, San Francisco-based Mediaplex will integrate RealMapping’s City service into its Mobile Java Objects technology, or MOJO.

Once that’s done, MOJO — which enables marketers to link ads and content with marketing and pricing databases to deliver personalized banners, offers, emails and wireless messages — will be able to send content to a Web surfer or mobile user based on their location.

Amsterdam-based RealMapping uses Internet Protocol targeting software, based on a database of four billion global IP addresses, to pinpoint a user’s location down to a specific city.

The deal emerges out of a prior agreement by the firms that made RealMapping a preferred vendor to Mediaplex of its earlier country-based targeting software. It’s a boon to startup RealMapping, which is seeking to boost its product’s acceptance in the U.S.

It’s also good for Mediaplex, whose main value proposition is being able to provide dynamic content to the appropriate user. For instance, MOJO can detect a returning Web surfer and deliver a banner that features a product’s discounted price, based on its current availability. That dynamically generated content will soon be able to include language- and region- specific options.

“The ability to target a specific city can be crucial to meeting the business goals of a digital advertising campaign,” said Mediaplex chief technology officer Mark Joseph. “Our partnership with RealMapping City provides Mediaplex clients with the best technology available for CRM and geo- city targeting.”

The system isn’t flawless, however. RealMapping promises only that City will work for major cities and metropolitan areas in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. However, the system should still be able to accurately determine a user’s country and probable language. And upcoming products should determine users’ connection speeds and glean more information about the company or institution from which users are connecting.

But despite the problems, RealMapping chief executive Sjoerd van Gelderen said the system should provide positive results for marketers.

“Customizing the message per the targeted demographic will make certain key information is reaching the appropriate audience and help ensure a more successful marketing campaign,” van Gelderen said.

Additionally, RealMapping says that its technology faces few privacy issues, because it doesn’t glean more information than users are already providing on the Web — since every time users visit Web sites, their IP addresses are typically logged.

The company also said it protects users because it does not link IP addresses, country or city data with users’ names or email addresses that it might have through opt-in newsletters or registrations.

It also points to the fact that most ISPs give Web surfers different IP addresses each time they log onto the Internet, which makes it still harder to link personal information with a specific IP address.

“We don’t see privacy issues here as an issue, because we can’t map it to a specific user,” van Gelderen said. “It’s the same level of privacy you have reading a local advertisement in The New York Times.

Van Gelderen added that RealMapping plans to expand its client base into territorial digital rights management, Web site statistical analysis, and fraud detection for e-commerce transactions — for instance, raising flags if a user pays with a U.S. credit card, cites a home address in another country, and orders shipping to a third country.

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