What Ad Intelligence Tools Can and Can’t Do

Oct 15, 2016 1:00:00 PM

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The digital advertising industry has a serious transparency problem. Fraudulent ad traffic, or ad traffic that is from unqualified or non-human parties you didn’t pay to reach, is projected to cost $7.2 billion in 2016. Those costs continue to rise; the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) believes the cost of ad fraud will total $50 billion or more by 2025. Says one senior advertising executive interviewed by the WFA:  

“Ad fraud is one of the most important issues that we face today.”

The problem is made possible by an opaque ad-buying environment in which consumers and providers regularly have zero insight into who is actually buying or selling ad inventory. Ad intelligence tools like Pathmatics seek to solve the transparency problem. These competitive intelligence platforms show users exactly how advertising dollars are spent across desktop, mobile and video. With these insights, brands strategize, plan and buy better, while reducing fraud and improving purchase efficiency.

Unfortunately, there exist some exaggerated or inaccurate claims about what some platforms can and cannot do. This is the opposite of the transparency we believe the industry deserves. Brands need accurate, honest information about the capabilities these platforms provide, so they can guarantee this technology is a good fit for their needs.  

This post is designed to help. It breaks down concisely what these tools can and cannot do, so you can make an informed decision about whether a platform is suitable for your needs.

What Ad Intelligence Can Do

Provide Ad Spend Insights and Transparency

The best ad intelligence tools tell you exactly how much money companies spend on digital advertising across desktop, mobile and video. They also show you on which sites this money is spent and who receives it (ad networks, DSPs, etc.). Top digital tools do this by detailing an ad’s full journey from publisher to advertiser, including programmatic channels. This all occurs in near real-time.

Inform Advertising Strategy

Brands use this information to determine their digital advertising strategy and outsmart the competition. Using an competitive intelligence tool is like looking over the shoulder of a competitor: for instance, the information provided can be used to protect market position or capture a competitor’s customers.

Decrease Fraud and Eliminate Waste

These tools give you the power to ensure creatives run on contracted sites through efficient purchase channels. Using this information, brands dodge costly fraud and arbitrage.

Negotiate Better Deals

Digital intelligence tools show you how publishers sell their inventory and to which partners. Whether buying in-house or through an agency, this information can then be used to better negotiate both programmatic and direct deals. 

Evaluate Partners 

The data provided by competitive tools is impartial: it delivers an unbiased look at the top clients and publishers of potential partners. An intelligence platform will even tell you if a potential partner is working with your competitors.

What Ad Intelligence Cannot Do

Tell You the Most Effective Ads or Channels

Digital intelligence platforms can’t tell you which ads were most effective or predict what creatives will work in the future. They don’t recommend which creatives you should publish, where you should advertise or what channels provide the best ROI. Advertisers must determine ad success using their own relevant business metrics and tools like Google AdWords.

However, they can help you infer how competitor campaigns are performing based on how much the competitor invests and for how long they run certain creatives.

Determine Ad Strategy

Remember how we said using a competitive intelligence tool is like looking over your competitor’s shoulder? It is, but it’s up to you how that information is used. The only way to outsmart the competition is to use the right information—and use it in the right way. While the tool doesn’t hand the strategy to you, it can truly inform your approach with data-driven insights.

Negotiate or Buy for You

Competitive intelligence platforms do not negotiate with sellers for you or purchase ads for you. The data from an intelligence tool will help you do both better. But the actions must still be performed by you and your team or via a different tool or platform (like a DSP or SSP). 

What Else Can an Ad Intelligence Platform Do?

One thing a best-of-breed digital intelligence platform is guaranteed to do is help you outsmart the competition. To see how, sign up for a free demo of Pathmatics today. You’ll discover how to give your brand’s digital advertising a powerful and lasting competitive advantage.

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Jordan Kramer

Written by 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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