As more advertisers (and publishers) recognize the advantages of real-time bidding, adding value is a necessity in this crowded and competitive market. Because most RTB buys are performance campaigns, the most obvious way to add value is by optimizing performance. Demand Side Platforms increase efficiency and give RTB specialists the ability to buy billions of ads. But in RTB, scale is your best friend and your worst enemy… With so much information at your disposal, where do you start? Inventory selection is the first and most important step in optimization.

So many fish in the sea

Why is inventory selection so important? Let’s take a look with a simple metaphor. Imagine you’re setting out for a relaxing day of fishing. You want to bring home a big catch that will impress your friends and feed your family. You’ve got the best fishing gear money can buy – rods, hooks, lures, bait – the works. You’ve also got a kick-ass fishing boat that can stand up to the elements and haul your catch home. Success guaranteed, right? But then you get a call from your buddies. Instead of heading out to your local lake, they want to go fishing in the Atlantic Ocean! You look at your boat and collection of equipment, and you’re suddenly feeling ill-prepared. What are the odds you’ll find the right fish in SO MUCH WATER?!

Optimize inventory to catch more fish

To continue with the fishing metaphor, a boat and top-quality gear is simply not enough to attract the right fish (your customers, of course). You need to gather data, make predictions and reach educated conclusions about where your fish like to hang out, what their preferred bait is, and how to get them to bite. That’s where inventory optimization comes in. It starts with looking for (and eliminating) objectively bad inventory. Even though no two advertisers are the same, won’t work no matter what you are selling. The secret to improving the performance of RTB campaigns is to learn from the past and utilize every data point available. In an ocean of 20 billion daily impressions, leveraging historical data will help you cut away the majority of low-value inventory by analyzing domains at scale. When you know exactly where to fish, that big ocean is far less intimidating and much more valuable. Big oceans bring bigger opportunities, but only if you figure out where to cast your net.