Digital advertising is more diverse and competitive than ever, thanks to advances in programmatic technology. With hundreds of billions of dollars circulating through the programmatic ecosystem, marketers need a deep understanding of real-time bidding and the RTB software that makes it all possible.
This article introduces the core RTB software categories that power the programmatic supply chain, highlighting how each contributes to the digital advertising marketplace.
Need a primer on the real-time bidding ecosystem? Check out Mobile RTB: The App Marketer's Guide to the Real-Time Bidding Ecosystem.
Jump to a section…
Understanding RTB software categories
To understand how real-time bidding tech works, one must first understand the programmatic supply chain and its participants. Delivering the right advertisement to the right potential customer within milliseconds of a request is a complex process that several partners work in tandem to fulfill. Each participant requires a specific RTB software platform that serves their needs, be they a marketer or publisher.
According to the IAB, these participants are categorized based on the following services:
Core advertising technology
Core advertising technology is a broad category for the foundational RTB software required to conduct any programmatic transaction. The most common examples are demand-side platforms (DSP), supply-side platforms (SSP), and ad-serving software.
Managed service tools
Managed service tools include any RTB software that closes technology and proficiency gaps for inventory buyers and sellers. These platforms benefit teams that prefer to outsource programmatic tasks to third parties or otherwise cannot manage programmatic inventory in-house.
Managed service tools can take many different forms depending on your position in the supply chain. Some examples include:
- Tools for interacting with an account or campaign manager
- Automated recommendations for RTB bids
- Self-serve reporting tools for optimizing campaigns and ad placements
- Other programmatic resources and support materials
Audience addressability needs
Audience addressability needs are programmatic tools that evaluate impressions based on their optimization goals. The term refers to RTB software that assists with audience targeting and segmentation, particularly data management platforms (DMPs).
Inventory verification software verifies the quality of ad inventory so that advertisers and publishers can report on qualified impressions. These tools can apply to brand safety, ad fraud, and viewability within the programmatic space.
It’s worth remembering individual participants do not always fit neatly into RTB software categories. Many solutions are customized to meet multiple needs. For example, a DSP that primarily acts as a core ad technology can also provide account management services. Alternatively, an ad network can leverage audience addressability and inventory verification in the same platform.
Understanding real-time bidding
Every time a user activates an ad placement, it triggers reactions from RTB software across the entire programmatic supply chain. Now that we understand each of the participant categories let’s take a closer look at the distinct platforms that help advertisers and publishers navigate the supply chain.
A demand-side platform (DSP) lets advertisers and other media buyers interact with the programmatic supply chain to purchase ad inventory. Ad agencies and tech companies create DSPs so they can act as intermediaries for advertisers. DSPs let marketers participate in RTB auctions and often include campaign reporting and optimization tools that help marketers enhance ad performance.
Looking for a DSP? MOLOCO’s machine learning capabilities are unrivaled throughout the industry. We provide both self-serve and managed service options to power growth at any scale. Reach out to our team for a consultation.
A supply-side platform (SSP) lets publishers and digital media owners manage and sell inventory on the supply chain. When a user triggers an ad placement, the app forwards the request to an SSP so advertisers can claim the impression. This process typically resolves through an RTB auction, but publishers can also fill inventory directly to fulfill existing advertising agreements.
An ad exchange is an online marketplace that lists programmatic inventory from SSPs and other supply partners. DSPs connect to exchanges to purchase supply through RTB auctions, typically resolved milliseconds after a request. Exchanges can also offer publishers and advertisers a channel to fill inventory directly while still operating within the supply chain.
Other RTB platforms and services
While DSPs, SSPs, and ad exchanges are enough to run a programmatic auction’s core features, other RTB software platforms can help run them at scale. These solutions can be integrated with an existing platform or offered as a third-party service.
Ad targeting identifies specific customer segments or devices within the supply chain. When an RTB auction begins, ad targeting helps brands estimate a given impression’s value, which lets the SSP assign a maximum bid value. Targeting data can be drawn from first or third-party sources and includes demographic segments, social media profiles, and purchasing histories.
Ad blocking RTB software lets advertisers block transactions that run the risk of fraud, brand safety, or low viewability. Marketers typically can adjust these settings using integrated exclusion and inclusion lists.
Ad verification makes it possible to verify exactly how ads are delivered to an app’s end-user. It can help measure viewability, engagement, brand safety, fraud indicators, and more.
Data management platform
A data management platform (DMP) is a warehouse that advertisers or publishers use to store supplemental information. The precise data stored will vary, but at a minimum, DMPs aggregate and normalize data sets for future reporting and optimization. Some DMPs also double as ad serving and publisher serving platforms that handle ad targeting and delivery.
How MOLOCO helps RTB work for you
To succeed in programmatic advertising, marketers need the right partner and the right data insights to drive ad performance. At MOLOCO, we can help with both. Our platform uses machine learning technology to grow your user base, reacquire lapsed customers, and drive ROAS with the power of data. If you want to see what a 100% transparent RTB software platform can do for you, get in touch with MOLOCO today.