Chances are most of us have joked around at one time or another, saying that we have so much to do that we’d love to clone ourselves. Being more than one place at once is desirable, isn’t it? That’s certainly the case when it comes to real-time bidding.

Real-time bidding, otherwise known as RTB, is a way in which advertising inventory is bought and sold on a per-impression basis via a real-time auction. If your bid wins, your ad is displayed on the publisher’s site instantaneously (i.e. in real-time).

Life before RTB

Before the advent of RTB, the online media landscape was fragmented. Advertisers had to determine reach and identify relevant target groups. Just like traditional, 20th century advertising and publicity, relationships had to be built; results took time. Bloated budgets had thousands of dollars set aside for lunch meetings with publishers; wining and dining those in power in an effort to get a leg up. Today, RTB has changed all that.

Now, with the majority of display inventory available through RTB, agencies can access ad inventory from anywhere across the globe. This has made it easier—and quicker—to seize opportunities, increase scale, and pinpoint relevant audiences. But, the RTB arena is continuing to evolve.

A strategic blend of components

While it was once commonplace to utilize one platform, now it’s more desirable to tap into multiple platforms. The differences and benefits in RTB platforms can be broken down into three criteria: data, technology, and reach.

  1. Data – Some RTB platforms offer data that is unique to just their platform. A good example of this is the Amazon Advertising Platform (APP) which lets advertisers purchase ads across a wide array of inventory sources, including Amazon.com, Zappos.com and Imdb.com (both owned and operated by Amazon). It also includes mobile inventory available on Kindle/Kindle Fire. APP offers access to unique data, much of which is especially useful to e-commerce and retail brands. Take a look at a major consumer brand. They use a combination of Amazon.com and IMDB.com data to find their target audiences. One audience is a combination of early adopters who like “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Using the same personalization engine that drives advertising on Amazon.com they can extend the reach of their campaign and pinpoint exactly the right audience.
  2. Technology – AppNexus is without a doubt the most open and customizable ad tech platform. Clients can build a full trading desk, ad network or even a custom exchange on top of their product. Let’s say you want to start your own trading desk. Do you really want to invest in infrastructure that can listen to billions of available ad impressions per day? The better option might be to build your trading desk on top of AppNexus so you can focus on developing USPs that really set you apart from your competitors.
  3. Reach – It’s easy to think of Twitter when one thinks of reach. If the popular, microblogging site decides to launch its own RTB platform (a feasible possibility given its acquisition of MoPub in late 2013), it would have a unique reach advantage. Not only does Twitter have a well-established desktop product that uses promoted tweets and targeted ads, but in 2013 revenue from its mobile presence overshadowed those of its primary website.

Imagine being able to reap the rewards of using multiple platforms, but still maintaining a centralized approach. Being able to consolidate monitoring, reporting, and analytics in one place, but optimizing your efforts via multiple platforms could be the best of both worlds. This marriage made in cyberspace could empower agencies and trading desks to better serve their clients, advertisers as well as publishers. More value, better efficiency, and improved results are up for grabs. Will you be smart enough to reach for them?