Understanding real-time bidding for the mobile marketplace

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Jason Cianchette
Jason Cianchette

Real-time bidding (RTB) has taken a strong hold in traditional online advertising by letting advertisers buy an audience as opposed to buying available inventory only. RTB is proven to deliver stronger ROI and make ad buys more effective. As the use of mobile handsets and tablets grows in popularity, more and more marketers are turning to mobile advertising as a means by which to reach consumers that are constantly on-the-go — but marketers are of course also looking for a return on investment.

Enter RTB for mobile.

Mobile RTB helps advertisers bid on the exact impressions they want and enables publishers to gain from more competitive bids while arming themselves with analytics and management tools. Many marketers, however, have neither heard of RTB, understand how it works in the mobile space or what can be done to make it even more effective.

Average pricing models result in average placements

Lets start with a basic understanding of how RTB works. RTB gives publishers access to new sources of revenue through a competitive auction, while enabling them to retain complete control and transparency.

What does this mean? Most mobile ad buys are done on a blind basis. When you buy traffic from a large exchange, you're not typically told where your ads are placed. Placements are based on an average price and blanket placement. Additionally, if you want to target specific sites through networks, the process is rather cumbersome.
With RTB, marketers can base placements on a number of factors while also knowing exactly where the ad will be placed. This all starts with a bidding process and pricing is set based on the buyer's desire to have their ad appear in a specific place. Therefore a marketer is setting a specific price for each placement as opposed to paying one average price. This model results in more targeted placement and a more successful campaign.

The difference is in the data

In the RTB space most bidding companies focus on getting traffic solely based on conversion and click-through rate. While this works and offers marketers much better placements, there is more that can be done to increase the effectiveness of mobile RTB advertising.

When you monitor activity from impression to click-through and beyond to conversion — while also routing to call centers or tracking purchase history — you end up with a consolidated and accurate chain of data that allows you to price impressions more accurately. Why should marketers pay for advertising that doesn't provide an actual ROI or offer them important data that will help with future media buys and campaign decision making?

All marketers should know which mobile websites consumers are accessing, when the best times to reach them are, and what device they are surfing on. Having a tracking system that allows you to see who best converts for a specific offer and how to optimize your campaign based on device, carrier, site, keyword, demographic, location and more is key in the mobile RTB world and helps marketers create more effective campaigns.

RTB can be confusing, so think about this simple equation: When you bid to get the right price and the right placement and then use consolidated campaign data to optimize, campaigns are more effective and you end up with a much better return on investment.

Who could want more than that?

Jason Ciancette is president and founder of Liquid Wireless, a subsidiary of Publishers Clearing House.

Return to Direct by Design.

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