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Why the Digital Advertising Industry Is Flooded with Bad Data—and What to Do About It

Jun 14, 2018 10:40:12 AM

Face it, the ad industry is flooded with sub-par data. We all know it.

“The ugly truth about the data that drives marketing is that it’s often simply wrong,” says AdAge. The publication cites one instance of a Proctor & Gamble campaign that was promoted to women aged 19 to 50, when it was intended for 18-year-old men. The campaign? Welcome to Manhood.

Awkward.

The company’s CMO, Mark Pritchard, has put advertising partners on blast, telling them they lose out on P&G’s $2+ billion U.S. ad budget if they don’t offer solid data and clear transparency.

“Frankly, there’s, we believe, at least 20% to 30% of waste in the media supply chain because of lack of viewability, nontransparent contracts, nontransparent measurement of inputs, fraud, and now even your ads showing up in unsafe places,” Pritchard is quoted as saying in Fast Company.

We wish we could say we’re surprised.

Simple fact is, the digital ad space has long had a major transparency problem. Figuring out the relationships between advertisers, publishers, agencies, and all the middlemen and platforms in between may as well require a federal investigation.

And actually, determining where your ads end up and how they got there—when you can even see this information at all—is probably harder than sending a man to Mars.

It’s a crazy state of affairs. And one that Pathmatics was created specifically to fix. Way back in 2010 when we were founded, we were already aware of the problem:

The ad industry was flooded with sub-par, incomplete, or nontransparent data—and nobody knew what to do about it.

We knew there had to be a better way.

That’s why we built proprietary ad intelligence software to track ad paths across the web. The technology is called Pathsource, and it’s baked right into Pathmatics. 

At a high level, Pathsource uses machine learning to track the exact paths of every ad that thousands of brands buy in a wide array of markets.

The result?

You can see every step of the journey your ad took, from purchase to placement. (See the image below for a glimpse at what this looks like.)

Pathmatics data for Apple

Here, we looked at how Apple’s ads are showing up on mlb.com—and how they got there.

Notice, thanks to Pathsource, we can also collect tons of information about the ads themselves, such as the specific creatives that were used and what brands they promoted.

But that’s not all.

We can also zoom out to see how Apple’s advertising strategy plays out across desktop, mobile, video, and on Facebook for any time period.

Pathmatics data for Apple

It’s comprehensive ad intelligence you can’t get anywhere else in this kind of intuitive interface.

With just a few clicks, top brands use Pathmatics to see data on their brand and competitors. Some data you might pull from the platform: 

  • Impressions
  • Spend
  • Unique creatives
  • Channel breakdown (desktop, mobile, video, social)
  • Top sites a brand advertised on
  • Site spend share for any given brand
  • Site impression share for any given brand

All this amounts to the one thing the ad industry lacks:

Accurate, transparent data.

No more wondering if the data is correct. No more guessing where your ad ended up. No more worries about brand safety.

Pathmatics shows you exactly what’s going on with your ads, no questions asked.

And, it shows you what’s going on with the competition’s ads—even if they don’t want you to know.

You’ll be able to see exactly how the competition advertises. Where they advertise. How they advertise. And who they’re trying to target.

Some people call it spying on the competition. We call it getting a little more transparency into what your competition is up to. (Now, if you want to use that transparency to completely disrupt their ad strategy, we won’t stop you…)

Either way, Pathmatics was designed from the ground up to provide clear, accurate data across channels, sites, and brands, so that you can rest easy knowing exactly what your ads are up to.

Why not see for yourself what life is like in a world of ad transparency? Try out Pathmatics here.

Ken Roberts

Written by Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts has been immersed in marketing and technology for over a decade, merging creative strategies with the latest technology, to bring products together with the people who need them. With degrees in Engineering, Computer Science and an MBA, Ken’s background in product management, marketing, sales, analytics and technology lends to his ability to attack product challenges on multiple levels. Ken began his career developing software solutions for medical records before transitioning to marketing. Ken focused on building marketing departments and operating in-house agencies. Ken’s experience with digital platforms, internet based marketing, lead scoring and business intelligence, and reporting, as well as a keen market understanding, are a welcome addition to Pathmatics, only matched by a leadership philosophy that encourages high creativity and ownership from his team.

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