What is an IP address?

Glossary What is an IP address?

An Internet Protocol address, or IP address, is a series of numbers assigned to every device connected to the internet or computer network. Computers, mobile phones, and any internet-connected device, such as smart speakers, printers, connected TVs, and home alarm systems, all have an individual IP address for identification.

IP addresses are automatically generated by an algorithm of the Internet of Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and assigned to the device by an internet service provider (ISP).

What does an IP address do?

An IP address serves to identify and distinguish a single device from the billions of other online devices. Similar to the physical address of your home, an IP address acts as the digital address for internet devices, allowing them to send and receive data.

Different types of IP addresses

There are four different types of IP addresses, and their names suggest how each works.

  1. Private IP address: This is a specific IP address given to the devices in your home or business where a private network is used, allowing these devices to communicate with each other without connecting to the internet.
  2. Public IP address: As the name implies, a public IP address is visible to anyone connected to the same public network and is easily accessible by other devices on the internet.
  3. Dynamic IP address: A dynamic IP address is automatically generated and assigned via a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). These IP addresses change each time they’re connected to the web. But note that a dynamic IP address has a traceable origin IP address that can be monitored across various devices.
  4. Static IP Address: Unlike the above, static IP addresses do not change and are simply assigned by network administrators. They can only be updated manually.

What makes up an IP address?

An IP address consists of four numbers separated by periods. These numbers are typically within the range of 0 to 255 and include the network ID and host ID, which classify the specific IP/TCP network and device used to connect to the internet. The IP address also reveals geolocation, such as region, city, or postcode, but not a precise location like a home address. Today, many internet users utilize a VPN to obscure or limit IP address tracking.

Example of IP address

Does each device have a different IP address?

Yes, each device has a different IP address. In the image above, you’ll note all the devices in the same home have IP addresses beginning with the same numbers because they are on the same network. But, the additional last number in each IP address represents the device, meaning that each device has an individual IP address.

In the IP address example image above, the network ID is 184.19.243.

However, these devices are differentiated by their host IDs, the last number in the series.





What’s the difference between iPv4 and iPv6?

iPv4 was the original IP numbering structure that works on a 32-bit code, and this is gradually being replaced by IPv6. As internet-connected devices have grown exponentially since its inception, North America has run out of iPv4 addresses, needing a new IP address format: IPv6.

IPv6 addresses are in a 128-bit hexadecimal format, separated by letters, numbers, and colons. The new format provided by IPv6 is, in theory, limitless and should prevent the running out of future IP addresses. Note that the majority of global devices still use the IPv4 structure.

IPv4 address example:

IPv6 address example: 3001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1

How are IP addresses used in app marketing?

A device’s IP address provides the general location of the user, which has historically been used for app marketing campaigns. Marketers would utilize IP address targeting by which the user’s location determines the campaign they will receive. The user location affects creatives—language, messaging, etc.,—campaign cost, and potential engagement.

While the IP address does not reveal a user's exact location, some recent privacy changes in the industry have included obscuring a user’s IP address. For example, Apple’s iCloud+ Private Relay hides the user’s IP address for iCloud+ users who have toggled Private Relay on. Or, with the introduction of SKAdNework (SKAN), marketers no longer receive device IP addresses with SKAN postbacks.

Bottom line: Any marketing actions involving IP addresses must comply with data privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA. The good news? There are many more ways beyond IP marketing to deliver engaging and relevant content to your target audiences. You can learn more about these methods in our user acquisition guide.

If you’d like to see how Adjust’s mobile measurement and analytics suite helps marketers succeed in their campaigns across channels and platforms, request your demo now.

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