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Using Proxy Services to QA Ad Campaigns

As digital publishers get more active in indirect channels, they’re increasingly ‎exposed to a global ad market.  For teams used to just working within the US, this ‎means more responsibility with less visibility.  If your Ad Ops team is in the US, how ‎do they look for broken ads, monitor ad exchange content, debug discrepancies, or ‎even take screenshots of tags scheduled to run outside the US?  ‎

It can be challenging without tools because technically speaking, the ad server ‎relies on IP addresses to figure out where a user is physically located.  That means ‎in order to fool an ad server, you not only have to be able to change your IP ‎address at will, you have to change it to one you know is already identified as ‎located the specific location from which you want to test.  ‎

While not the only way, proxy servers are by far the easiest and least operationally ‎complex way for non-technical users to change their IP and keep it consistent for ‎as long as they need to test.  ‎

What is a proxy server?   

A proxy server is effectively a middleman between you and the content you want ‎to access on the Internet.  Instead of connecting directly with a website, your ‎browser forwards your requests to the proxy, and the proxy connects with the ‎website.  Then, the proxy simply forwards the website’s responses back to your ‎browser.

Now to understand why a proxy can work to change your IP address, and thereby ‎your inferred location by an ad server, you first have to understand some of the ‎basics of how browsers interact and connect with other websites. Essentially, the ‎Internet runs on a standardized communication framework called HTTP protocol, ‎which dictates browsers have to send specific fields of information on every ‎request, which are known as request headers. The request headers pass all kinds ‎of information, things like what operating system you’re on, what type of browser ‎you use, the referring site, and many other more technical pieces of information, ‎including your IP address.  ‎

Because the proxy sits between the browser and the website for requests and ‎responses, it has the ability to change any of the information it wants in the ‎headers, including the IP.  Or perhaps more accurately, the proxy determines what ‎information it changes in its own natural request header it will pass from the user.  ‎Importantly though, not all proxies operate the same way, so don’t assume that all ‎proxies will change your header information.  ‎

In fact, the header actually has standard fields that are designed for proxies to ‎identify themselves to websites, and standard fields to forward the originating ‎browser’s IP address in the request.   So if your goal is to dynamically change your ‎location through your IP, you need the right kind of proxy, one that operates as an ‎anonymous proxy, and specifically won’t pass your browser’s original IP in the ‘X-‎Forwarded-For’ header parameter.  ‎

Pick a (premium) proxy you trust

Proxies aren’t rare, even ones with a wide selection of geographic locations.  A ‎quick search on Google will turn up thousands and thousands of free proxies that ‎tell you exactly how to connect with them.  But while proxies can be useful, they ‎can also be dangerous.  Proxies read every piece of information you forward ‎through to them, including passwords, usernames, anything.   ‎

So before you leverage an anonymous proxy you found for free on Google that’s ‎located in a completely different country, ask what sort of accountability they have ‎to you or anyone.  A far simpler and safer approach is with a paid proxy.  Paid ‎proxies are far more reliable for one, but also come with direct support, and are ‎often configurable for your exact needs.  While paid is obviously more expensive ‎than free, proxy services tend to be very affordable, and certainly more ‎trustworthy.  As with anything, you tend to get what you pay for. ‎

 

GeoEdge own and operates the largest premium proxy network in the world. With ‎advanced encryption technology and protected servers, user data and actions will ‎never be exposed or shared.‎