RTB is a frequent acronym in the AdTech scene, but its meaning could be obscure to people that are new to digital marketing. To make things worse, people in the digital marketing industry also regularly use the term Programmatic Advertising and regularly interchange the two.
However RTB and Programmatic Advertising are two separate concepts, each having a specific meaning, and we will try to explain them clearly in this article.
Real Time Bidding (RTB)
Real Time Bidding, commonly abbreviated RTB, refers to a specific mechanism that is used by media buyers to purchase publishers' media inventories. With RTB, each buyer interested in purchasing a specific publisher's inventory for its ad will participate in an auction and submit a bid. The highest bidder wins the right to serve their ad in the publisher's inventory.
These auctions are hosted by Ad Exchanges, and usually are organized in real time whenever a publisher which is equipped for RTB (usually using a Supply Side Platfor, or SSP) has one of its page loaded by an internet user. During the load time of the page, the publisher's SSP send an ad request to the Ad Exchange, which organizes an auction to determine which ad will be served in response to the ad request. To that purpose, the Auction broadcasts to Demand Side Platforms (DSP), such as Ad360, which are connected to it, a bid request to invite media buyers to submit their bids.
Ad360 delivers this service to its customers by selecting the appropriate bid requests that corresponds to the Ad360 clients' campaigns and line items' requirements.
Programmatic Advertising is a broader concept that includes any form of media buying which is performed through advertising software, platforms or other form of automated ad delivery technologies.
RTB, which we've previously explained, is one form of Programmatic Advertising, but not the only one. Indeed, there are some automated ad purchase and delivery methods, which do not rely on auctions (and hence are not part of RTB), but that are considered Programmatic Advertising nonetheless: e.g. Private Deals with publishers at a fixed cost that are executed by Demand Side Platforms.
Any form of media buying performed on Ad360 will be considered to be Programmatic Advertising.