The Basics of SiteScout RTB

An introduction to Real-time Bidding (RTB) fundamentals on the SiteScout RTB

  • Introduction
  • What is Real-Time Bidding (RTB)?
  • How Does The Bidding Process Work?
  • How Much Does Traffic Cost?
  • How Does Targeting Work?
  • What’s a Campaign?
  • What Makes SiteScout RTB Better?


Media buying has come a long way from traditional mass-purchasing; it has evolved from buying ads directly from publishers, to purchasing through aggregators such as ad networks, to going through real-time exchanges that act much like financial markets. The most modern form of automated or programmatic media buying (i.e., no insertion orders or contracts) is made possible by the technology known as real-time bidding (RTB).

RTB allows the automation of the media buying process that up to now has largely been manual.This makes online advertising easier, less labour-intensive, less error-prone, and more efficient for both agencies and publishers in setting up and running a campaign. Costs are reduced, thereby improving profitability.

Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), like the SiteScout RTB, are companies that advertisers use to create RTB campaigns. You can imagine a DSP as essentially an ad server that has been directly integrated into traffic sources.

What is Real-Time Bidding (RTB)?

RTB (Real-Time Bidding) is an online advertising technology that enables publishers (website owners) to sell advertising inventory through an ad exchange platform on an impression-by-impression basis as each impression becomes available on a publisher’s website (i.e., in real time).

RTB enables buyers (advertisers) and sellers (publishers) to dynamically adjust their bids based on changing market conditions and real-time feedback that depicts the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Typically, RTB is used in conjunction with user data allowing for improved ad targeting and greater campaign effectiveness, which has led to the concept of “audience buying” rather than “inventory buying“.

How Does The Bidding Process Work?

As the name implies, RTB operates on an auction model. You set the max bid (CPM) that you will pay for a placement and win impressions at $0.01 above the next highest bidder. Here is an illustration:

If “Advertiser A” bids $2.00 CPM and “Advertiser B” bids $1.50 CPM, “Advertiser A” will win the impression at $1.51 CPM (Or to put it more accurately, $0.00101 for that specific impression.)

Although you bid at a CPM rate, you are actually bidding on each individual impression (i.e. $1.00 CPM = $0.001 per impression.)

How Much Does Traffic Cost?

The price of traffic in a RTB environment is very dynamic. In a real-time auction where practically every impression is sold for a different price, the answer would be another question: “The price for which impression?”

There are many factors that play into the price of each impression, but ultimately prices are dictated by supply and demand. For example, if nobody wants to buy Brazilian traffic from, then the cost might effectively work out to $0.25 CPM (hypothetically). If everybody wants to buy US traffic on during Christmas season, the effective price of traffic might end up being $10+ CPM (hypothetically).

How Does Targeting Work?

In the milliseconds before ads are served, we are given a ton of details about the user who is about to view the upcoming ad. From geographic location to browser and device information, we have access to an abundance of data that is used for targeting. Within our platform, you can specify most of this targeting data as an audience filter for your campaigns. This way you can ensure the right people will be viewing your ad.

In short, every impression is analyzed individually based on its characteristics and bid on accordingly if it matches an advertiser’s targeting criteria.

What’s a Campaign?

A “campaign” is an advertising term that’s widely used to describe a bundle of configuration parameters for an advertising initiative. In the display advertising world, this bundle of specifics includes, but is not limited to:

  • The creative (banners)
  • A destination website when users click on the banner
  • Bid prices
  • Targeting rules (geography, device, time, context, demographic, etc.)

What Makes SiteScout Better

SiteScout RTB was designed specifically with the self-serve, data-driven advertiser in mind – which means that it was designed to be both the easiest and most powerful way to buy display advertising online.

Here are the core reasons for what makes SiteScout great:

  • Transparency – Full data granularity on the campaign, domain, placement, and creative levels. You know exactly where every dollar of your ad spend is going, down to the exact placement and banner.
  • Interface – Fast and easy-to-use interface that provide a friendly experience. Totally self-serve.
  • Control – When you make changes to your campaigns, the system reacts immediately, giving you unprecedented control over your media buying experience. Domain level media buying allows for very specific media planning, in addition to run-of-network or run-of-category.
  • Service – Our account managers are some of the most helpful people you will ever meet! Rarely will you find an advertising platform that provides the level of service we do, for customers of all sizes.
  • Flexibility Upload your ad, or select your ad from a vault of your ads.