What is Real-Time Bidding (RTB) & It Works?

Real-time bidding has changed the face of online advertising completely. It’s a new dawn for traditional display advertising. Better, fast and precise. In a blink of an eye, it does the buying and selling of ad-impressions through real-time bidding.

RTB is basically a server to a server architecture that allows ad-spaces on websites to be purchased and sold on the basis of per-impression. It all happens expeditiously through an auction that decides who will be going to buy a specific impression. It works the same as financial markets do if a bid is won the ad will be promptly shown on the bought publisher’s website.

Ad-exchanges and Supply Side Platforms (SSP) plays the role of supporting platforms for the whole process.


It all starts when a user visits a Publisher’s website now who is a publisher? The publisher is basically the website owner which is drawing an audience and he sells ad space to advertisers who want the attention of those audiences.

Now while the user is on the website the browser will open a connection with publisher’s content server to get content for the page and with the content there comes an ad request which will be entertained by publisher’s ad server.

How Real Time Bidding Works? Eco System

How Real Time Bidding Works? Eco System

This ad server will now decide what to do now. If that ad space is not reserved for any specific advertiser fine go with it otherwise it will put the opportunity out in the open ad market for a big and better deal. The Publisher ad server will be connected to the SSP (Supply-Side Platform). This platform is used by a publisher to monetize its pre-planned ad inventory.

SSP after gathering all the logical data sends the ad request off to Ad exchange at the same time the Ad exchange will be engaging and communicating with the potential buying systems that are DSP (Demand-Side Platform) now the Ad exchange will tell all the DSPs and other networks that if you want to show ad to this specific person tell me your best price and remember this is happening in less than 10 milliseconds and buyers respond to this opportunity forthwith and the Ad exchange will then select the winning bid.

The winning DSP will send the instructions to the Ad exchange which will send those instructions back to SSP and the SSP will send the ad request to Publisher ad server and it will respond to the HTML protocol open by the user browser and tell it to go to agency ad server to get the ad this server will track the performance of the ad for the respective advertisers and allow the browser by delivering the ad to it for the relevant user now remember this all steps are happening in chunks of a minute.

What are the benefits of RTB?

  • Allow digital marketers to bid only for those impressions which directly affect and impact  their business
  • Increase more target specific marketing strategies
  • Allow digital marketers to collect real time data
  • Increase the engagement rate of new and existing customers
  • Increase the Transparency for both publishers and advertisers

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