Magazine article Marketing

Revolution: Special Report - Real-Time Bidding - A New Dawn for Display?

Magazine article Marketing

Revolution: Special Report - Real-Time Bidding - A New Dawn for Display?

Article excerpt

The days of buying banner placements in blocks of thousands or millions of impressions could be numbered. With real-time bidding, brands are targeting specific online audiences on web pages as they browse.

The quickest-growing transaction in online digital display happens three times faster than the blink of an eye. It takes only 150 milliseconds for real-time bidding (RTB) to offer up a set of eyeballs to competing advertisers, hold an auction to decide who gets the impression, and then serve the winning ad.

RTB has been around for a few years, but it is only in the past 12 months that brands and agencies have been waking up to its possibilities. Financial services brands such as Allianz have been trialling the medium, including split tests across targeting segments and placements, varied creative and landing pages, time targeting, multi-channel attribution, and varying re-targeting tactics, all of which is delivered in split seconds. These have been delivered across sites including Top Gear.

Elsewhere, mobile operator 3 claims RTB has brought a 50% drop in cost per acquisition, because it has been able to test and evaluate its creative more frequently. Broadcaster Sky, meanwhile, is looking to invest more in RTB (see box, opposite page).

Researcher IDC predicts that RTB in the US will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 66% between 2010 and 2015, by which point it would account for more than a quarter of online display spend. In a study by Econsultancy with The Rubicon Project - which provides RTB for publishers such as Trinity Mirror and The Guardian - 48% of respondents said improved performance was a benefit of RTB. Among advertisers, 42% pointed to reduced media 'wastage', better targeting and lower cost per acquisition.

Hitherto, media buying has been a relatively analogue procedure involving picking up a phone, providing details about the target audience and negotiating a price. This would hit some of the target, but there was a lot of waste. RTB has changed the process of planning and buying media by automating large parts of it, including the creative element that is served. Crucially, it allows advertisers to buy on an impression-by-impression basis. As a page loads, information about who is viewing it is passed to the publisher, who offers it to a number of brands. The beauty of RTB is that it can combine the data that a publisher has about somebody on a website with the data held by a brand This promises to give advertisers a much more targeted ad, and one that is infinitely more valuable.

Consequently, ads served through RTB come at a premium compared with the commoditised inventory that is sold off on ad networks. 'RTB has the potential to massively reduce wastage,' says Martin Kelly, managing partner of Infectious Media, an agency specialising in the medium. 'It puts the value of an ad back into the hands of the buyer as they decide what it is really worth to them.'

For advertisers, RTB promises to make it easier to buy a campaign in the fragmented online space, says Nigel Gilbert, UK country manager at real-time ad technology firm AppNexus, which Microsoft is using for its RTB service. 'Operationally, it's a problem to buy from 400 companies with all the associated invoicing, individual campaigns and tagging - there is a big opportunity within online display,' he adds. 'In social and search you are essentially dealing with Facebook and Google. Agencies like that simplicity.'

Hitting the bullseye

Although RTB seems to fall into the ambit of the data analyst, it permits a different creative message to be delivered to each impression, says Kelly. 'For a company like Groupon, we can see the location of a person and pull in local ads suited to them,' he adds.

The context of the ad is also less important. Traditionally, a credit card company, say, would target ads specifically to finance sites, but RTB allows you to 'buy the audience' and serve up an ad to prospects on various websites. …

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