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Real-time bidding: changing the way digital video ads are served

Watching Video

We are all familiar with the advert that pops up on YouTube while we are salivating over the latest viral video. The ad is either a small “lower third” style advert that pops up during playback or the equally annoying pre-video ad. But what makes those ads appear?

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Traditionally those ads were shown because of the keywords that you typed which matched the criteria in Google AdWords set by the vendor which in turn triggered the ad. The adverts were keyword driven, much the same way as traditional PPC ads on a Search Engine Results Page were driven. That, however, is changing.

Real-time Bidding (RTB) is changing the way in which ads are served and it is having a particularly large influence on digital video.

Essentially RTB differs from direct buys in that with direct buys, you are essentially buying impressions in bulk, in order to have your ads seen in a specific context (e.g., on You have the ability to filter the audience that sees your ads with targeting rules such as geography or browser type, to name a few of the basics, but you’re still ultimately targeting your ads to a specific website.

This works exceptionally well for those brand advertisers and their agencies who are especially sensitive to the placement of their adverts which means that they are willing to pay premium prices to secure the inventory.

With RTB, each impression is profiled and evaluated in a matter of milliseconds during the auction process (which is while a page loads). The beauty of it is that you can target ad viewers at a demographic, psychographic and behavioral level, but the reach of RTB enables you to do so across a wide array of sites, rather than on just one, making it possible to target audiences at scale.

So, instead of being limited to buying ads on to reach your audience, RTB allows you to buy ads on (almost) any site that “news readers” may visit. You also have the ability to take a more agile approach to campaign optimization, since each impression is being bought individually, allowing for more efficient performance and control.

Where can you get RTB?

According to eMarketer, there are already a great number of sites that offer RTB as a bidding option for advertisers — it is not a norm or standard yet, but we are rapidly approaching that place.

In a survey commissioned by SpotXchange; Forrester found that in 2012 the number of video ad impressions bought via RTB exchanges doubled year over year. It further said that the number of video impressions will top 100-billion in 2013.

Forrester projects that total spend on video ads bought via RTB will reach US$686-million this year and top US$1-billion in 2014.

It is estimated that US RTB digital display ad spending will rise a further 73% this year, after more than doubling in 2011 and nearly doubling again in 2012. In 2015, RTB spend will account for one out of four display dollars.

That means that RTB is quickly becoming the normal way in which digital advertising is served. For the man on the street; this is at least some good news as the adverts will at least be that much more relevant to your needs and wants.

Of course, whether or not you can actually afford what is being advertised (or actually want to buy it) is still up to you!

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