I was browsing the web, on my mobile, the other evening and reading up about coffee makers. This busy world is hectic enough and, believe me, I need the caffeine to keep up! I was scrolling through one particular review site when I noticed there were several adverts for gyms in my local area. Only a few hours earlier I’d been reading up on some bodybuilding articles, so this was rather coincidental. How did this review site come to deliver a tailored ad to my interests? It was, of course, the latest technological breakthrough known as Real Time Bidding (RTB).
Previously, digital advertisers had to play a guessing game to garner click-throughs from potential customers. A gym, for example, would pay to advertise on websites such as the sports section of the local paper. There was a good chance people visiting that section of the website would be interested in fitness. However, what about the potential customers who weren’t into sport, but were considering getting fit? RTB specifically targets these customers by tailoring adverts based on data collected on the user’s search history and demographic.
RTB commences the moment that a user visits a website. A bid request is created and contains information about the user e.g. location, browsing history and the page being visited. This request is then forwarded to an ad exchange such as the Yahoo owned Right Media or the Google owned DoubleClick. These platforms allow marketeers to bid set amounts for the right to fill that banner ad and gain a unique impression. The whole process is remarkably quick and the ad will be on the publisher’s site in front of the customer within 100 milliseconds.
100 milliseconds is a ridiculously short amount of time to carry out such a complex process. For an individual marketeer to achieve this they would require 8 arms and a pace that outstrips Usain Bolt. Luckily, help is at hand in the form of Demand Side Platforms (DSPs). These are automated pieces of software which allow advertisers to place bids and target potential customers via data mining. Acting, essentially as a stockbroker, DSPs save the advertiser a lot of time and, therefore, money in reaching new customers.
A key benefit of all this data collection is that it can be analyzed to improve advertising campaigns. Publishers are able to examine their advertising impression inventory to discover new revenue streams and untapped audiences. This process is carried out by Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) which work alongside DSPs in a fully automated procedure.
RTB, then, sounds like the answer to everyone’s problems. It’s certainly an exciting frontier, but not one which is without faults. The mobile world is a difficult place to collate user data. Consumers are becoming increasingly cautious about the data they share due to media stories such as the Edward Snowden affair. Corporations need, therefore, to be seen as protecting their customer’s data. Compounding this is the fact that a universal cookie for all the various mobile platforms does not exist. Collecting the necessary data for RTB remains a curious challenge.
RTB is revolutionising mobile marketing by allowing advertisers to gain market shares which were previously out of reach. Sure, it faces challenges, but that’s the very nature of marketing. Overcoming obstacles in marketing is nothing new and is what we all thrive upon. I believe that RTB is here to stay and will only grow as time goes by. The future effect of RTB was summed up wonderfully by Josh McFarland, CEO of TellApart, who stated:
As with the advent of online commerce, so too will RTB prove to be the backbone of all future marketing efforts. With the backdrop of holiday feasts behind us, who can argue with expanding the pie?”
I’m certainly not going to argue with a bigger slice of pie. Although it may have to wait if I join that local gym…