Programmatic buying and RTB what is the difference?


Programmatic buying and RTB are two closely related but not equivalent concepts . In the same way that all sparrows are birds but not all birds are sparrows, Real-Time Bidding is part of programmatic buying, but not all programmatic buying is Real-Time Bidding. Here we explain in detail what differentiates these two closely knit concepts.

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Index of contents

Programmatic buying: a brief definition

Programmatic buying is the use of algorithm-based technology to buy media and advertising space online. Thanks to the different tools used in this area, it is possible to specify the profile of the audience to which we want to direct the ads through segmentation. This allows you to create higher quality leads , with a greater probability of making conversions. 

If you want to go deeper to understand how this advertising buying model works, in our article What is programmatic buying? Everything you need to know you will find all the information.

Programmatic buying and RTB what is the difference?  - Programmatic Advertising Tools 3

How are programmatic buying and RTB related?

RTB is a programmatic buying method . It is part of the process, but it is not all inclusive. This buying model is based on real-time bids on display ad impressions for a given ad space. This happens in a few milliseconds and is possible thanks to Big Data , which allows you to select relevant spaces and audiences .

The RTB works by following this process: 

  1. Cookies collect user data when entering a website.
  2. With this information, a visitor profile is created .
  3. Advertisers and companies interested in that profile receive an offer that they can bid on .
  4. Through DSPs , advertisers set purchase parameters for their campaigns, bid according to the data they have analyzed, and monitor campaign performance.
  5. The meeting between supply and demand occurs in the Ad Exchange.
  6. Sellers and buyers carry out the transaction in real time .
  7. After receiving offers, publishers will select the offer that suits them best.
  8. The ad is placed on the web page with the highest bid and the advertiser is informed of its publication.

Making use of Big Data, Real-Time Bidding is beneficial for all participants in the process . The media can sell the advertising space they have available at the best price, while advertisers find the best place to advertise, also at the best possible price.

By choosing where and when the ad is shown, advertisers ensure a receptive audience , with a high probability of conversion. In addition, they can personalize their message for different audiences, thereby achieving better user service . Users, in turn, receive advertising based on their interests, which contributes to a better online experience .

As we have seen, Real-Time Bidding does not encompass all aspects of programmatic buying. It is simply one of many systems with which such advertising transactions can be carried out. A part of the whole . But an important part, without a doubt.

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