As with most revolutionary ‘new’ ways of doing things, real time bidding has the potential to drastically change digital marketing practices across the board, but is coming up against the age old road block: tradition. Real time bidding, or programmatic trading as it’s also known, allows advertisers to bid – in real time – for the ad space on a website for each individual user. This radical approach to digital marketing means that each individual impression is bid, bought and paid for in the time it takes for a webpage to load, vastly different to the time honoured approach of purchasing media space on specific sites for a set price. But tradition has its points, because real time bidding (RTB) still has some challenges to overcome.
While RTB can help reduce costs by cutting out much of the manual processes required for traditional online marketing, it does rely heavily on algorithms and data that may not be available across every type of device users may have at their disposal. While RTB works well online, mobile users present more of a problem due to the lack of tracking data that can be collected, resulting in demographics such as location being used instead. While online campaigns can use cookie information to provide a wealth of information about each individual user, mobile doesn’t have the same capacity and while alternative options are being explored, RTB for mobile may be a few steps behind its online counterpart for a while to come.
Context could be another tipping point for marketers, as they have no control over the context in which their ad appears, all they’ll know is that the website it’s placed on meets the algorithmic requirements for their campaign and they placed the winning bid for that individual impression. But there is a campaign for a transparency standard currently underway that would provide full disclosure to advertisers on just where their ad is appearing, and progress is being made in the area.
Another challenge is in the question of how real time is real time bidding? Using cookie data to target individuals who meet the requirements for each marketing campaign is all well and good, except for those times when you were searching for a product a week ago and now you’re getting the targeted ads, days after you’ve already bought said product.
Even more crucially, while the use of RTB has been steadily growing, and at a remarkable rate, there is still a lack of premium content available on the platform, mostly due businesses preferring the direct marketing approach of buying on a specific site for a specific number of impressions. And yes, there have been problems matching consumers with RTB content, but the lack of premium content on RTB channels has meant that, on occasion, matching consumers with any content has proved to be difficult. Without larger, wider spread campaigns and content that appeals to wider audiences, RTB can never meet its true potential. Which, for those curious, is to help marketers reach targeted, wider audiences and with far less overheads involved than site specific media buying currently offers.