In less than 100 milliseconds, Real-time bidding (RTB) initiates and completes the process to deliver a single online ad exposure via programmatic auction to the viewer.
100 milliseconds. How fast is that? In 134 milliseconds, light can travel around the Earth’s equator, and it takes 200 milliseconds for the human brain to recognize emotion in facial expressions.[i]
We explained the role of data-driven user profiles in “Stop guesstimating and get with the program” as the key to precise audience targeting in large scalable quantities for programmatic display campaigns.
Now consider that Real-time bidding is a per impression auction for those campaigns.
When someone visits a Web site – while the page is being loaded into the user’s browser window – the site publisher sends a bid request for each of the display ad slots available to one or more ad exchanges. The ad exchange submits the details for each slot to multiple advertisers who submit their bids in real time. The winners’ ads are then displayed in the banner and other slots when the page is loaded…all in less than 100 milliseconds.
RTB and User Profile data-driven targeting work in tandem to deliver ever-increasing ROI for the campaign budget over the duration of the campaign.
The criteria that created the high-value User Profile target audience can dictate whether to bid and the value of the bid. As viewers click on ads, user and campaign data are updated, and that information, in turn, improves the performance of the next ad to be bid and served.
Since multiple RTB exchanges (and there are dozens) serve bid opportunities simultaneously, data management platforms have emerged that centralize these bid calls. At the same time, the growth of centralized User Profiles of first hand, online history for millions of anonymous users – you and me – means the best campaigns can find us and show us the ads that match us ever-more precisely.
This is where size matters to our campaign outcomes. The more first hand data in the Profiles and the more RTB exchanges available in those 100 milliseconds, the better our ROI.
Access to this size is not the exclusive province of the largest advertisers and their agencies. Any business that has significant expenditures in print, broadcast, or digital should be re-balancing their mix of channels to test and include this combination of User Profiles and Real-time bidding. The more data in the profiles and the more simultaneous auctions you’re in, the better you’ll do.
Otherwise, your business could end up, “Going once! Going twice! Gone!”