Real-time bidding (RTB) refers to the means by which ad inventory is bought and sold on a per-impression basis, via programmatic instantaneous auction, similar to financial markets. With real-time bidding, advertising buyers bid on an impression and, if the bid is won, the buyer’s ad is instantly displayed on the publisher’s site. Mobile real-time bidding lets advertisers manage and optimize ads from multiple ad-networks by granting the user access to a multitude of different networks, allowing them to create and launch advertising campaigns, prioritize networks and allocate backfill percentages.
Real-time bidding is a dynamic auction process where each impression is bid for in (near) real time versus a static auction where the impressions are typically bundled in groups of 1,000.
How it works
A typical transaction begins with a user visiting a mobile website. This triggers a bid request that can include various pieces of data such as the user’s demographic information, browsing history, location, and the page being loaded. The request goes from the publisher to an ad exchange, which submits it and the accompanying data to multiple advertisers who automatically submit bids in real time to place their ads. Advertisers bid on each ad impression as it is served. The impression goes to the highest bidder and their ad is served on the mobile page. This process is repeated for every ad slot on the mobile page. Real time bidding transactions typically happen within 100 milliseconds from a user visiting a website.
The bidding happens autonomously and advertisers set maximum bids and budgets for an advertising campaign. The criteria for bidding on particular types of consumers can be very complex, taking into account everything from very detailed behavioral profiles to conversion data.
Demand side platforms
Demand side platforms (DSPs) give buyers direct RTB access to multiple sources of inventory. They typically streamline ad operations with applications that simplify workflow and reporting. DSPs are directed at advertisers. The technology that powers an ad exchange can also provide the foundation for a DSP, allowing for synergy between advertising campaigns.
The primary distinction between an ad network and a DSP is that DSPs have the technology to determine the value of an individual impression in real time (less than 100 milliseconds) based on what is known about a user’s history.
Supply side platforms
Large publishers often manage multiple advertising networks and use supply side platforms (SSPs) to manage advertising yield. Supply side platforms utilize data generated from impression-level bidding to help tailor advertising campaigns. Applications to manage ad operations are also often bundled into SSPs. SSP technology is adapted from ad exchange technology.
Difficulties in implementation
A consumer’s history is currently very difficult to determine in the mobile world. This is due to technical limitations that continue to make the type of targeting and tracking available on the desktop essentially impossible on smartphones and tablets. The lack of a universal cookie alternative for mobile web browsing also limit the growth and feasibility of programmic ad buying. Mobile real time bidding also lacks universal standards.
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