Google Proxy Limitation


Google limits the data that can be gathered from a user’s IP address on their devices/products. In turn, the locations of ad decisions from Google Products (Gmail, etc.) are associated with Google’s server IP Address rather than the actual IP Address of the user. This causes some Google users in the United States to be associated with Google’s server in Montréal, Canada

Due to the nature of Google’s server configuration, some United States openers get flagged as being in Canada. As a result, any advertiser campaign targeting US Only will NOT serve to these users.

Below is a more in-depth explanation of this limitation and best practices for Google targeting. 

Google Proxy Limitation

The cause of this limitation is due to how Google handles the delivery of images in emails. Google stores a cached version of the images opened in emails via Gmail clients (web browser and mobile app) and serves these images through its own servers. 

The effect is that all ad requests for emails opened in Gmail are handled through Google’s servers, or “proxied” through them. Google has 12 servers located within the United States and 1 located in Montreal

This outlying server prevents some Gmail users in the U.S. from seeing advertising campaigns targeting the U.S. only. This limitation fluctuates over time depending on which server Google chooses to serve the cached image. 

If the user is located in Canada and isn't seeing an advertising campaign targeting Canada, this could be the same issue. We have a more focused article for Canadian users here.

Recommended Best Practices

Below are the best practices for our client’s ad-ops and sales teams to prevent ad serving issues. 

  1. Global Targeting
    • If the advertising client does not mind Global targeting, toggle this option on.  
    • If your advertiser does not want to serve internationally, you can use option 1 or you would have to accept the loss of impressions using US Only targeting. 
  2. Geo-Target Canada and the United States
    • This will cover users who are in the U.S. and are identified by the Canadian server, as well as ALL users in the U.S. AND Canada. 
    • About ~2% of LiveIntent’s entire exchange are Canadian-based impressions that are not associated with this Google Proxy issue. For more specific information about your non-Google related impressions in Canada, reach out to your account team. 
  3. Separate Line Item with Google Targeting
    • Duplicate your U.S. only line item, toggle it to “Global” targeting, and target Google as a Browser. This creates a Google-specific line item to ensure that everyone on the Google server gets the campaign. 
  4. Custom Audiences
    • If you have the first-party data on the country location of your audience, we can upload a list of email hashes into our Custom Audiences tool and target those users only. If you want more information on this, please reach out to your account team. 
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