Real-time bidding – how it works and how to use it

Jo Bowman

When so much of what consumers do on the internet is done in real time, it seems like it's about time for online advertising to move at a similar pace. With real-time bidding – a still-nascent method of buying display ad space online – there's a chance to move away from the wastage of bulk buys and the time-consuming efforts involved in negotiating directly with individual website publishers. Crucially, there's also the opportunity to put to work the wealth of data that marketers have on their customers and their target audience, along with everything websites know about their users.

How it works

With real-time bidding (RTB), advertisers can decide to put a specific ad in front of a specific individual web user on a given site, bid for that impression and – if they win the bid – serve the ad, all in the time it takes for a page to load on the target consumer's computer.