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Pathmatics Blog
Technology, Facebook |


How the Third Party Cookie Crumbles

January 30 2020 by William Merchan

When Google announced on January 14th that they were ending support for third party cookies it shook the digital ad world.  The feedback was swift and pointed about how this change would put a nail into the proverbial coffin of programmatic advertising and targeting efforts--seemingly to Google's advantage.  The rationale behind removing this ability is centered on consumer privacy concerns and the growing chorus of data leaks over the past few years. 

At Pathmatics we certainly believe in a transparent open ecosystem for advertising. In fact, we believe in it so much that it's part of our vision for the company. What will this mean for the industry at large? We suspect this move to eliminate third party cookies is going to push the digital ad market to innovate. In the long term, this will benefit all participants in the digital ad market. 

How we got here 

The origins of the digital marketing intelligence market go back to the early 2000's when search engines and other research providers discovered that as they were indexing web pages, they were also gathering data on the digital ads present on those sites. 

Lycos home page ad 2002

Source: Internet Wayback Machine Lycos 2002

Fast forward a few years, and the rise of programmatic advertising drove continued innovation in the category to allow marketers, advertisers, and publishers to view and report on these ads. 

For our part, Pathmatics patented an approach to indexing ads that not only captured the site that an ad appeared on, but also captured the Ad Path. This industry-first approach enabled our partners to monitor each ad impression through the nearly infinite combination of transactions from publisher to SSP to ad networks and ad exchanges, through DSPs and trading desks, and ultimately to the advertiser. We continue to monitor and report on this data to this day (See: Progressive Insurance Ad Path).  

cProgressive Ad Path Huffington post

Source: Pathamtics Explorer Progressive Ad Path +> Huffington Post 

What this means for marketing intelligence

A primary motivation for advertisers, agencies, publishers and platforms to leverage digital marketing intelligence was to put a spotlight on the activity in programmatic to review ad quality, placements and the competitive landscape. This continued through the early 2010's, where we began to see three trends transforming the digital landscape. 

roaFirst, we saw the rise of Facebook and social advertising as a growing share of budget for all digital marketers.  Second, there were technology shifts in programmatic and targeting that disabled the ability to capture data for many platforms through a crawler based approach. Third, eyeballs and budgets were shifting away from desktop and to mobile. 

Seeing these emerging trends, Pathmatics took two actions that enabled us to stay one step ahead of the market and competition.  First, we launched an industry first mobile panel initially focused on Facebook advertising. This closed the gap on mobile and social ad coverage.  Second, we brought to market a desktop panel to shed light on programmatic platforms and pay wall sites.  Having this panel focused approach to digital marketing intelligence has setup Pathmatics for the next wave of innovations coming to the online advertising market.  As we look into the 2020's and beyond we are confident in our ability to lead the market in a cookie free world and whatever new devices and targeting approaches or platforms come our way.

About Author
William Merchan

William Merchan is a data science, marketing analytics, advertising technology and startup veteran. He currently serves as chief revenue officer at marketing intelligence company Pathmatics, where he is responsible for brand growth and awareness. Previously, William built products and grew teams at DataScience.com, MarketShare and Yahoo!. He holds a BS in Business from the University of California Berkeley and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

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