What is IP Grabbing and Is IP Grabbing Illegal?
One of the biggest reasons that digital marketing has changed the landscape of business so significantly is because of the sheer volume of critical data it can provide.
With traditional marketing approaches (especially to “cold traffic”) business owners understood that there was going to be a lot of waste as far as money, time, and resources were concerned. You had to spread your marketing message far and wide, recognizing that the majority of people that saw the marketing weren’t going to be your perfect prospects – and re-targeting ideal prospects specifically would be time-consuming and very costly.
With today’s digital marketing approaches you gain access to a tremendous amount of data – especially when it comes to online identification – that makes finding perfect prospects, marketing to them exclusively, and then re-marketing as often as you need to in order to convert them from total strangers to paying customers a whole lot easier.
IP addresses can be super useful for this kind of digital marketing approach, but a lot of people are wondering whether or not IP “grabbing” (sometimes called IP harvesting) is legal, ethical, and moral.
We dig a little deeper into that below.
What Exactly is an IP Address?
Right out of the gate, support to understand that your IP address is essentially your “digital fingerprint”, and address that has been assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Helping to connect your internet enabled device to the servers that you are pulling data and information from around the world – but also helping you to find those specific servers as well – it’s easy to think of your IP address as your online “home address” for your computer, phone, or tablet.
Each internet enabled device has its own unique IP address connected to it specifically. It allows you to find, track, and monitor how certain people (or certain IP addresses, anyway) interact with your marketing and advertising quickly and efficiently.
Navigating the Ethical and Legal World of IP Addresses
Using IP address data for business purposes is relatively new, especially when it comes to tracking and optimizing campaigns the way that our new Big Data tools make possible.
There are a couple of ethical and moral hangups to using this data to track and optimize marketing and advertising. We highlight some of the most important ones below.
Personal Data Relationship
Because IP addresses aren’t attached to individuals but are instead attached to individual internet enabled devices – meaning your phone has a different IP address when connected to the internet than your laptop, even if they are in the exact same room in your home – the way that data regulators handle these addresses are different than how they handle other pieces of personal data and information.
At the same time, because there’s so much other data connected to IP address since (data that’s readily accessible and easy to find) it isn’t hard to combine that IP address and its activity to more personally identifying data sets.
This creates a bit of a morally gray area for some people, particularly when it comes to grabbing IPs and tracking behavior online. On the one hand it isn’t technically personal data according to a lot of regulatory bodies, but on the other hand it’s really not all that hard to turn it into personal data – and that’s something you’re going to have to wrestle with on your own.
Can Businesses Legally “Grab” IP Address Data?
From a strictly legal standpoint you can put your mind at ease when it comes to grabbing or harvesting IP addresses through your digital marketing efforts.
For business to business purposes IP address grabbing, harvesting, and tracking is 100% legal across the board. Business IP addresses and the business data (such as business name, address, and contact number) is technically considered to be public information and does not fall under the umbrella of certain data regulation – allowing you to take advantage of IP tracking technology to really hone your marketing and advertising approaches.