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The History of Real-Time Bidding

The online advertising community has evolved substantially during the past two decades. This is due in no small part to the fact that a greater number of potential buyers are now accessing the Internet on a daily basis. So, it only makes sense that some novel approaches have developed which will give any astute advertiser a leading edge. One such method revolves around bidding for advertising space in a real-time scenario. What is the history of this interesting process and what are some of the main highlights that businesses should keep in mind? These are two important questions which deserve some further attention.

A Brief History

Otherwise known as RTB, this process has been in existence since roughly 2009. It is no coincidence that this was the same year when most users had access to broadband connections (for laptops and computers) and at least 3G technology (for the emerging smartphone market). The main principle behind this bidding method was (and is) quite simple.

Like many other sites, certain advertising placements (also known as “impressions”) are listed within a bidding platform as they become available. Users will then bid on a certain placement of choice; normally those which are considered to have the best exposure or are the most relevant to the business in question. At the end, the highest bid wins. The entire swap will occur on a third-party platform that places sellers (publishers) in direct correspondence with buyers (advertisers).

Stemming from the Financial Markets

Many have observed that this interesting history is a direct reflection of many of the same processes that are used within online financial bidding platforms. In other words, a certain commodity (in this case, advertising space) is listed for a certain price at a certain time. Should the buyer present the highest bid, he or she will thereafter “own” the space. Still, there are some who may purchase a placement and then immediately place it back up for auction. In some ways, this is quite similar to spot trading.

Challenges Ahead

While real time bidding is certainly an advantageous way to promote advertising space, the smartphone market is proving to be a slight challenge. This arises from the fact that user data for the target audience is more difficult to track in comparison to static computers or laptops. So, the buyer may not be able to interpret the best placements that will target the intended audience. Additionally, a universal cookie for mobile web browsing does not currently exist. This can further confound the benefits of real-time bidding. The good news is that as mobile technology becomes an increasingly important market for advertisers, there will likely be methods developed to address such issues.

Although real-time bidding may be a relatively new concept for some, the history speaks for itself. Advertising space can sometimes be hard to come by. Using this platform could dramatically increase the chances of finding the exact placement that satisifes the needs of the online marketer.

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