Five things you need to know about real-time bidding

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Five things you need to know about real-time bidding

One of the key stumbling blocks of online advertising has been that buyers have only been able to assess the value and worth of their campaigns after they have placed them. This is essentially paying for advertising space while blindfolded. 

In the physical world, you wouldn’t pay for a billboard if you had absolutely no idea or control over where it was going to be put. You would be worried that it would end up under a bridge or at the far end of an industrial estate where no one would ever see it. 

However, until recently, that is what marketers have been doing with their online campaigns. Then real-time bidding came along. This allows marketers to value an impression before bidding on it in real time. 

So just what do you need to know about real-time bidding?

It’s a kind of advertising stock market

If you are still not sure what real-time bidding is, then think of it like an online stock market for display ads. Advertisers are shown what is available and when these shares (or ad spaces) become open, buyers can compete to buy them. The more popular or in demand a space, the more value it has.

stock market

The market uses real-time data to value each impression space and buyers can make adjustments to their bids as the market goes up and down. It works in a straightforward way. As an impression is loaded into the web browser of a visitor, the data about the relevant page is forwarded to the marketplace where it can be auctioned off in real time. The highest bidder then wins the space and their advert is instantly loaded onto the web page. And when they say real time, they really mean it. 

There are big benefits for advertisers 

As we discussed at the start of this article, the old way of buying online ad space was problematic. Very often, companies were investing in these impressions but seeing little or no return on investment. That’s because they often had no control over where the ads ended up, and so they could be in places far removed from the target audience.

Real-time bidding has removed this issue and allowed marketers to be much more focused about where they spend their money. But there are more reasons why it is proving to be so successful. 

The real-time feedback available on this new method allows marketers to quickly evaluate whether they are getting value for money. In the old days, this meant searching through bundles of data and trying to figure out if your money was well spent. The greatly improved response rates of real-time bidding is a real bonus. 

Online ad fraud is now much more difficult. In the past, as much as a third of all paid-for advertising space was never put in a place that could be seen by customers. They were either buried on ghost sites or underneath other pop ups. Just imagine what you could do with that third of advertising budget that has been potentially wasted.

Real-time bidding has made the whole process much more transparent and allowed advertisers to conduct a much more accurate inventory. 

You don’t need a huge budget to get started

One of the common misconceptions about real-time bidding is that you need a large budget just to get started. But that’s really not the case. 

calculator and three piles of coins

The budget you need to begin really depends on the individual marketer and their aims and requirements. Yes, you can spend big if that’s what you want, but there are also ways of doing it effectively on a budget. Perhaps it was true that at the outset of real-time bidding it was the big brands that were really able to leverage its potential, but it has evolved to be much more democratic.

Most publishers or vendors offer few barriers to entry, making real-time bidding accessible to virtually all types of advertisers. And, as mentioned above, the fact that you can focus your budget in a more accurate way and avoid up to a third of your budget being wasted, means it’s an attractive option for small and mid-sized business. 

You don’t have to use cookie data

The main innovation of real-time bidding is that every ad impression is evaluated and auctioned in milliseconds. This allows advertisers to focus on audiences, using cookie data, and not just to simply buy inventory from specific publishers.


But it is not the case that using cookies is the only way to use the real-time bidding process. There are several other tactics that don’t rely on cookie data, but rather on other metadata associated with impressions. 

Real-time bidding is the future

Whether you are new to real-time bidding or an old hand, the one thing that you really need to know about it is that is the future of online marketing. It is a programmatic form of working and almost all experts are united in saying that this is the way that we will do business in the future. 

Of course, the system that is used to make bids or adjust prices may evolve to become more complex or even more simple, but the main premise of real-time bidding looks like it is here to stay. 

So, now you have a greater understanding of the needs, working and benefits of real-time bidding. If you are a small business trying to make a big impression, then using this innovative form of ad space purchasing is the way to go. 

Just like advertising in the physical world, it’s about using your budget to most effectively target your audience and potential customers. The previous methods of online advertising have made that difficult, but with real-time bidding it is now possible to get the maximum bang for your buck.

If you would like to know more, then get in touch with a member of our team. We look forward to hearing from you.