I can hear some of you... You thought the exchanges were already "real-time" and, to an extent, that's true. At the very least, if you think of an ad exchange as an ad server, well, then the ad gets served in real-time - as soon as the page is opened by the end user. But, no no no, we're not talking about that...
For the most part, it's been a "futures" or "reserved" world to-date where buyers of online display ad media bid on publisher placements in the future. And, the advertiser must blindly trust, for example, that certain targeting parameters for any buy are implemented correctly by the selling publisher or ad network.
What RTB will enable with ad networks and exchanges is:
- The purchase of individual impressions using the "buy" side's data to analyze the impression and bid accordingly in real-time.
- The optimization of real-time bidding using real-time conversion data.
As RTB is solved through technological innovation and the gradual adoption of industry-wide standards, performance metrics could leap.
As an industry insider told us, "Demand-side optimization creates a more dynamic environment with more efficient and fewer pre-defined rulesets." Advertisers will be more willing to buy media - and bid higher for media (making happy publishers) - that they believe will likely perform well given the efficiencies created through RTB. Proprietary data from advertisers can be mapped against any potential media buying campaign to further improve performance.
Many companies are running hard to provide real-time bidding.
In recent weeks, a very limited number of ad technology companies now offer or have said they will start offering RTB. Agency/advertiser trading platforms can't wait such as Havas' Adnetik, The Media Kitchen's Varick Media and Publicis' Vivaki Nerve Center.
This is no small challenge as today's NASDAQ stock market, for example, is a model of how buyers and sellers bid in real-time on the stock of public corporations - this innovation likely cost many millions of dollars. Technology companies working on this challenge are still struggling with the intensive data calculations as bidders and impression levels increase in addition to other data parameters.
No doubt, the implementation of RTB will accelerate adoption of ad exchanges and digital media trading - the open auction of online display advertising.
And, any technology companies that can define or discover technology for RTB stand to enjoy a healthy payday.