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Pathmatics Blog
Ad Intelligence 101 |


Ad Serving and Advertising Intelligence: How Does Pathmatics Work?

August 03 2017 by Jordan Kramer
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You deserve to know how your ad intelligence solution gathers its data.

Most companies won’t tell you what’s behind their software, and we don’t blame them. If we weren’t sure our technology could effectively serve our customers, we wouldn’t either.

However, you should feel completely confident that an ad intelligence solution works in the way you expect. We can’t speak for the other solutions out there, but we can tell you exactly how Pathmatics works. To do that, you need to understand a little bit about the ad serving process.

The Ad Serving Process and Pathmatics

When you load a page, you just see an ad. But behind the scenes we track all the hidden activities that happen to make that ad appear. 

When a web browser loads a page, it kicks off ad selection processes that get ads loaded into the page’s inventory of available impressions. Each ad impression on the page could be filled by different advertisers and be purchased through different paths. An ad could be placed via a direct buy. Or an impression could be filled by one or more real-time auctions that result in the winning ad being shown. In the end, there could be several intermediaries involved in each single ad impression. Pathmatics’ Pathsource technology tracks each participant in the ad serving process for every ad detected on every page we index.

We then combine all that data to learn about each ad’s precise path.

Pathmatics doesn’t just recognize the adtech tags loaded from a site and make assumptions about which vendors placed each individual ad. Our platform detects the specific services involved in filling each ad impression on each page. That is we identify the specific intermediaries, in order from impression to advertiser, by which each ad was included on the page. 

Each path provides valuable detail on the route by which an ad was delivered to the user. The result is a clear picture of the path an ad takes along every step of the way.

With that information, brands can do some pretty interesting (and profitable) things.

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How Does Ad Serving Impact You

Knowing the exact ad paths yields a number of novel benefits.  First, it lets Pathmatics refine the estimates of impressions and spend on ads, especially between direct buys, ad networks, and programmatic buys. This means more accurate estimates on your competitor’s or client’s spending and impression trends. 

Next, you can examine how a site is selling—which partners they use most and how much they sell direct. This can help identify which partners to use to advertise on a site most efficiently.

On the flip side, you can see how advertisers—or whole categories—are buying, which gives insights into their ad buying strategies. Advertisers can understand how their competition and category are executing their advertising. Ad sellers can identify and prioritize prospects and make informed pitches with relevant recommendations and offers.

Ad path info also lets advertisers audit partners to check which placements they are getting and through how long of a path. When there are brand-unsafe or otherwise unwanted impressions, brand buyers can identify which paths are getting them these impressions and take action.

At a glance, Pathmatics reveals:

Top advertisers across industries and channels based on spend and impression. In the screenshot below, you’ll see that ad path information allows brands to distinguish between direct and indirect impressions.

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A breakdown of ad spend for any brand. This data can be used to isolate what purchase paths your competitors, your clients or your brand are using to place ads. You might then test out using your competitor’s biggest partners (say, Google AdX) or streamline your own ad purchases.


Top creatives, advertisers and sites by category.
Ad path technology will show you where each creative is placed and the individual paths that ad took before being placed. You might use this information to mimic your competitors’ results or gain better visibility into your own placements.

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Comparison between any brands.
See exactly how two brands stack up across channels. You’ll be able to spot what strategies brands are using and opportunities to outperform them.

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Comparison between any sites running ads. Ad paths technology makes it possible to break down specifically how sites are selling ad space. You might use this information to determine how to best approach a site about advertising or to appear on a site for cheaper than the competition.

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And much more.

It’s all powered by our Pathsource technology.

Using this information, you can plan a smarter ad strategy, gain insight on your competitors and see exactly how your ads are served, so you save money by cutting out middlemen. 

The result is a level of detail other solutions can’t match, giving you full transparency into the ad spend of your brand and competitors.

Want to see for yourself?

Take a free demo.

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About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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