The differences between programmatic buying and real-time bidding

Everyone seems to have their own definition of what  programmatic advertising  really is. Is the buying done in real-time? Is the inventory guaranteed? Is the buyer bidding on impressions? The answer always depends. Programmatic simply means using technology to buy and sell digital ads, and it’s become the hottest thing in advertising since  RTB . But many buyers and sellers still use the terms, programmatic and RTB, interchangeably, which is a mistake.

Real-time bidding is a form of programmatic ad buying, a subset of sorts. RTB occurs within both private and open ad exchanges. It is when display ad inventory is bid on by agencies/advertisers and sold by publishers through an auction model in an online ad exchange. The highest bidder wins. RTB takes place one ad impression at a time, sometimes in 1/3 of a second. When RTB first hit the market, many ad tech companies realized that this technology would quickly be in demand by both buyers and sellers. As time went on and technology continued to improve, there were more ways to use tech to automate the buying and selling of media, beyond the real-time auction model.

Programmatic encompasses RTB done in open ad exchanges, but it also includesguaranteed direct buyingprivate exchange buying and preferred deals. In, we provide you with access to programmatic inventory through a variety of guaranteed direct platforms as well as private exchanges. We also share which ad tech companies offer RTB technology, so you can determine which form of programmatic buying you’d like to do.

We hope this simplified how programmatic and RTB differ. As always, if you want to learn more about programmatic advertising, watch our latest webinar here or sign into and browse available inventory from our programmatic partners.

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