How an Ad is Served in Real Time Bidding (RTB)

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Serving an Ad in Real Time

The Interactive Advertising Bureau released a video that shows the process behind how an an ad is served in Real Time Bidding (RTB).

When you visit a webpage with your desktop browser, a complex process of content selection and delivery begins.Video and Mobile device’s can make the process even more complex.

Here is the breakdown of how an ad is served in RTB:

  1. A user who is browsing the internet visits a publisher web page. The publisher is the website owner and they generate content like news, information, pictures, video and more. The content draws and audience and the publisher sells their ad space to advertisers who want to sell products to that audience. When the user loads a web page a connection is opened to the publishers content served that generates the page content for the user.
  2. The content server delivers HTML to the user’s browser which creates the visual web page. At least one line of this HTML code is a Javascript or iFrame tag from an ad provider that calls back to an ad server (to manage multiple ad networks) or directly into an ad network to generate an advertisement.
  3. When the ad code is called a series of complex algorithms come into play that decide which advertisement will be shown to the end user. Some of the questions that the ad server will “figure out” in it’s decision making process: “Are there any premium buyers? What do I know about the consumer? Which advertiser is the best fit?
  4. If there is no immediate opportunity to sell the ad space directly, it may choose to sell the impression on the open exchange. This tactic, known as
    open auction pricing connects the ad server to a supply side platform, more commonly known as an SSP, which is used to monetize programmatic ad inventory by creating a real time auction by competing multiple demand sources for each impression.
  5. An SSP ties in multiple data sources, algorithms and logic determine which advertiser is willing to pay the highest price for an impression. Have I seen this consumer before? What does my data provider have to say about this this server? With all of this combined knowledge, the SSP sends the impression over to an ad exchange. Ad Exchanges are connected to demand side platforms (DSPs) who house advertisers. Ad Exchanges also are connection to many ad networks and even other exchanges.
  6. All of these demand sources compete for the impression and the highest bidder (under the right conditions) get’s to show an ad to the end user. The creative is shown to the user. This process all happens in milliseconds and is essentially the heartbeat that keeps the internet alive!

Digital Advertising Ecosystem 102 SSP

Ad Network –> SSP –> Publisher