They can be seen riding subway cars, walking down sidewalks, or sitting in cafes. They’re looking down at their phones, scanning what they missed on social media, or reading their favorite publications. They’ve become more and more common, and there are now more than 280 million of them worldwide. Of course we are talking about “mobile addicts,” or mobile users who are checking their devices over 60 times a day. They’re young and old, but they’re changing the way publishers go about placing content online. More and more, the eyes that were glued to the desktop are moving to the small screen inside a user’s pocket, and publishers have to keep up if they want to generate revenue.
The key to meeting that goal is two-fold: real-time bidding and transparency One issue that has arisen for publishers is how to track users across their favorite devices. According to Econsultancy, 60 percent of users in the UK use at least two devices daily, while 25 percent use three daily. Tracking a user’s movement across a desktop, tablet, and mobile device is a tough task, especially if the site is using cookies. Cookies do well when tracking what a user is doing on one device, but they don’t travel with the user from a tablet to a smartphone. Cookie-based targeting is only 60 percent accurate, according to Nielsen.
The advertising technology industry is now looking beyond cookie-based targeting to “people-based marketing.” This current buzzword describes the way that ad tech companies want to target individuals now—following them across devices and seeing their entire journey, from clicking on an ad on their phones to purchasing that product on their desktops, or vice versa. For this to be effective, the campaign must have accurate information about the users and know their spending habits over time, as well as a solid knowledge about the general population of online users today. Once advertisers have this information, they can provide transparency to publishers regarding who is being targeted and how it is being done.
That brings us to real-time bidding, an advertising technology that has been around since 2009, but just keeps growing. In fact, the IDC says real-time bidding, or RTB, will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate of 59 percent through 2016, reaching a global spend of $13.9 billion. RTB is a form of programmatic advertising that lets the demand-side platform bid for ad space in real time. The entire process of users opening web pages to ads placed on that page based on their histories takes a matter of milliseconds. Using this technique connects a publisher to multiple ad inventories with premium advertisers, auctioning off the spaces in a way that is individualized to each user. This results in higher prices for the publication’s advertisements, and a boost to their bottom line.
Real-time bidding helps provide a transparent environment where the publisher, advertiser, and consumer all have a clear idea of what is going on in the ad-serving process. This new technology lets advertisers target specific users over a variety of devices and get the most out of their inventory. If your publication isn’t using real-time bidding yet, you’re running the very real risk of falling behind in the mobile monetization arms race.