RTB meaning, ecosystem overview and 6 tips to improve your campaigns 

RTB meaning, ecosystem overview and 6 tips to improve your campaigns 

If you are an RTB rookie, this article would be a great one, to begin with. We will discuss the meaning of RTB, its benefits and we’ll share some tips and hacks that would come in handy.

What is RTB 

In a simplified version, the RTB (real time bidding) is an exchange where three parties meet: the advertiser who decides how much he is willing to pay for the display of ads to a particular user, sites that sell ad spots based on an auction in real time, and the user – or rather his impersonal data – which is the object of the auction. And the auction on this exchange takes place in real time: a chain of actions preceding the display of ads to a particular user occurs within a fraction of a second while loading the page site. During this time, the data about the user – the site to which he went, the information that is known about his site, perhaps – additional information from special data providers – are put up for auction, and go to the advertiser who chose them as the most relevant and offered the best price. The page is loaded – and the person sees, for example, bumper ads on his iPhone.


Anonymous user data linked to cookie includes a significant number of parameters relevant to the user (request history, social media, geography, retargeting data). This allows the user to see the most targeted ads for him.


The line between annoying advertising and useful information is very simple: the user perceives it differently as soon as she starts talking about his real needs. For example, some websites or influencers provide good ads. Or at least they find the ads are useful and their readers often click on it. This is a normal situation for thematic resources, the audience of which is gathered by a clear interest, which is well known to advertisers. And this is a killer feature of RTB advertising: participation in this system makes any resource thematic. 


As a result, it significantly increases the efficiency of advertising. In traditional media advertising, it is accepted to operate with CTR (clickability) indicators at a percentage level. RTB (real time bidding) increases clickability up to tens of percent, CTR of 15% and higher becomes a reality. 


RTB allows the advertiser to meet exactly the client that he needs. And users can see the advertisement they are interested in. At the same time, users’ privacy is not compromised, because RTB advertising operates with some virtual profiles based on data about user’s behavior on the site and the available “tail” from data about visits to other resources. You can destroy this profile by simply clearing the cookie in your browser.

RTB Ecosystem 

 The most difficult thing about RTB terminology is to learn the ecosystem. Lots of new hard-to-understand words are about to come, but we’ll explain every detail.

Let’s go through them:

  1. Demand Side Platform (DSP) is an auction for advertisers, a technology company that trades with SSP/Ad Exchange, etc. The DSP itself usually doesn’t have an interface for buying and managing advertising. There are such interfaces on products that are add-ons to the DSP, such as retargeting systems, Trading Desk, etc.
  2. Sell-Side Platform (SSP) – technological companies that trade advertising positions (advertising inventory) directly on the sites.
  3. Ad Exchanges and Ad Networks – advertising exchanges/networks, which provide a connection between sites and advertisers and allow to sell advertising to thousands of connected sites.
  4. Data Management Platform (DMP or Data Partners) – providers of user-profiles and data management systems to increase targeting accuracy.
  5. Trading Desk – A centralized advertising buying platform using the RTB ecosystem, which allows you to configure the ad-buying parameters to manage it automatically. Trading Desk is usually an add-on over DSP through which you can access the inventory available in the RTB ecosystem.
  6. DCOP – dynamic creative optimization platforms.
  7. Ad Verification & Brand Protection – post-check ads and protect brands from incorrectly created ads.
  8. Analytics – statistical tools that monitor the behavior of each user on the site.

6 tips to improve the effectiveness of the RTB advertising campaign

Recently we have seen a lot of publications that “machines have beaten a man” regarding effective and targeted media buying. We would like to present our vision of this “story” and tell you what you need to remember to dramatically improve the performance of the advertising campaign in the RTB-ecosystem and what important points to consider.

Here are some tips for RTB marketing planning an advertising campaign using automated media buying tools.

 1. Think about your target audience

In addition to manual methods of determining the target audience, one of the tools of algorithmic procurement is the ability to automatically calculate groups of intersections of interests that positively or negatively affect the results of the advertising campaign. The machines do not have full human consciousness but can process huge amounts of data.

After automated calculations, you can evaluate the results of the robot and make sure that the target audience it has calculated is correct.

The main feature of robotic calculations is non-human logic: for example, the robot may consider that the most valuable for an advertising campaign in real estate are user profiles that are interested in business topics such as cargo and legal articles, and are not interested in cartoons (ie, automatically cut off multiuser PCs – for example, a home computer, which, in addition to the target audience, can be used by their kids).

In addition to pure targeting, the marketer can see that the specific intersection of interests may be valuable, even if it is possible to capture a certain number of “non-targeted” displays and, for example, to target a weaker audience in the evenings or to entrust the auto-optimization of displays on the sites of the robot, to highlight within the right audience sites and time where the shows to this audience are most effective.

Important note: Using an automated approach requires a certain cost of testing, but it is better to spend a small amount of money on tests than to spend the entire budget on a miscalculated media plan.

2. Treat each advertising campaign as unique.

Often the objectives of a campaign are so narrow that specialized audiences are required. Remember, the right initial idea can help you run your campaign most effectively. 

To create a custom audience for the campaign, you need to select a pool of keywords and sites that may be of interest to those who care about the advertiser’s product.

By automatically configuring the display of look-alike banners, these hypotheses can be expanded, and unnecessary users whose behavioral characteristics are not similar to the standard behavior – are discarded.

Important note: The audience groups will need to be checked during the campaign. Remember that any manually generated hypothesis may not work on a real advertising campaign.

3. Set the right campaign objectives

Remember: it is not always the user who makes the decision spontaneously. And often recommends the service you see to your friends. Also, very narrow goals complicate calculations and require more expensive tests, so the primary optimization should be carried out on the activity of the user on the advertiser’s site and its interaction with the brand site, and only secondary – on the final actions such as ordering a test drive or apply for a loan.

Important note: High activity on the advertiser’s website and the very achievement of the desired target pages clearly shows from which source or audience section comes the right traffic for the advertiser.

4. “Open the eyes of a robot”

When making RTB ad purchases, it is critical to set conversion pixels on the site or pass on user activity data to the post-back site. Without the final data, the robot will be able to perform optimization only by CTR or make purchases by segments blindly, which does not guarantee optimal results for the advertiser, unlike a mass of real-time optimizations that the robot can do under your sensitive control.

Important note: If your RTB (real time bidding) contractor doesn’t ask you to install optimization codes on your site, run away from it.

5. Do not confuse RTB with contextual advertising.

When it comes to targeting based on interests, many expect media advertising to be effective in a similar way to the context ads. But the goals of media advertising are different from context ads – it generates demand.

Targeted advertising allows us to “warm-up” the interest of the user. Very often we see a significant increase in search queries about a brand or service immediately after a media advertising campaign. Also, even if there is no click and action on the site of the advertiser, do not forget about the media effect, which occurs directly during the show of millions of banners.

Often branded banners do not cause a large number of clicks, and the increase in search queries on the brand, an increase in organic traffic on the site and a greater predisposition to buy products of a particular brand after the advertising campaign.

Important note: Our experience shows that for a brand it is necessary to measure the increase in organic traffic during and after the advertising campaign.

6. The most important point: Analyze the effectiveness of the advertising campaign

To understand how effective the real time bidding advertising campaign was, you need to take into account the number of users interested in the advertiser’s site, not just clicks, to observe the increase in search queries and organic traffic, and, ideally, to conduct specific tests – for example, to launch a pilot advertising campaign in only one city and monitor the increase in sales of goods and interest in local stores to a particular product.


I hope that these few tips will help you to “sell the elephant”, improve the response to advertising campaigns and increase the efficiency of advertising spending by a factor of three to five, as I saw how the myth that purchasing efficiency can be improved x3 or x5 becomes a reality.


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