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Think BR: RTB - real time branding

Real-time bidding is a natural fit for video brand advertising, writes John Hughes, president of products, TubeMogul.

John Hughes, president of products, TubeMogul

John Hughes, president of products, TubeMogul

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RTB advertising is the new buzzword in adland, but it is generally talked of in terms of performance-based campaigns and usually in reference to display ads.

However video RTB is now a growing discipline and it’s something that clients are demanding.  According to a recent study by International Data Corporation (IDC), UK RTB growth until 2015 will outstrip the US, France and Germany, growing from just 6% in 2011 to 25% in 2015 and the video percentage of this is booming.

Despite or possibly because of this, it’s an area that attracts significant criticism. Specific criticism usually surrounds several issues that have little to do with real-time buying, but are central to any brand marketer: inventory being poor quality and the broad goals of branding and brand lift not being well-served.

This is to be expected of anything new. That real-time buying is not flawless is no secret, nor is the fact that it is a threat to entrenched players in the industry, primarily ad networks.

But these specific criticisms are flawed. Tier one inventory (which includes major broadcasters, officially-streamed music videos, sports broadcasts and major news outlets) accounts for 8,104,309 (27%) of the pre-roll streams per day in the UK. This figure is growing with private exchanges promising to open even more long-form inventory. 

Criticisms about brand lift also fall short. In its report on real-time buying, Forrester found that every marketer that leveraged real-time buying reported better results than traditional buying, "both in terms of reaching their target audience and showing measurable lift across a range of success metrics." Early research from top brand campaigns around the world also supports this finding.

What RTB suffers from is a perception problem. RTB is a method for buying which can be contrasted with the traditional method of issuing RFPs and then buying via email or phone with publishers and ad networks.

When you think of RTB in this context you see that technically any kind of inventory, from the top broadcasters in the world to niche, long-tail sites, can be plugged into RTB and indeed is. The only difference is that with RTB advertisers are in total control over every aspect of a buy.

In fact, real-time buying is a better fit for branded video advertising than display, despite the fact it took off in display first.

RTB provides complete control over context, which for many marketers is the biggest concern or worry. It allows the marketer to pick and control the exact sites their ad is running on and which audience is seeing it.

Additionally, real time bidding comes with real-time data. This allows marketers to optimise the creative for the audience and track audience and performance by the minute rather than picking from bundled site lists ahead of time and assessing performance after the fact.

Real-time bidding is the natural fit for video brand advertising as it offers more creative freedom, instant feedback and the ability to measure impact. 

It allows advertisers to have a larger degree of control over their advertising and means that they can ensure that their brand isn’t damaged by badly placed online video when they are in fact attempting to do the exact opposite.

Reflecting this reality, perceptions about real-time buying are beginning to shift. At a recent Oxford-style debate put on by the IAB UK, for instance, roughly two-thirds of audience members initially agreed with the motion that "video RTB will commoditise and devalue creativity." By the end of the debate, a majority disagreed.

John Hughes, president of products, TubeMogul

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