Real-Time Bidding Technologies: The Complete Guide

RTB platforms drive a line between irrelevant and highly-personalized digital advertising
powered by automation, precision, and messages that address real users’ needs.

Real-Time Bidding Technologies: The Complete Guide

What is Real-Time Bidding?

Real-time bidding (RTB) is a technology designed for automatic buying and selling of ad impressions to the highest bid in real time. It functions on the basis of online auctions and works according to the per-impression (CPM) payment model. The whole process is getting powered by programmatic platforms, each of which represents the interests of the media-trading participants: the supply side (SSP) and the demand side (DSP).

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How Does Real-Time Bidding Work?

RTB platform is a core component of the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Programmatic advertising ecosystem involves platforms that serve the interests of publishers and advertisers and additional tech components that support the auction and organize ad serving. As we already found out, RTB-powered programmatic platforms enable demand side to target users who strictly meet the requirements of the ad campaign, let’s see which role each component plays in this process.

How Does Real-Time Bidding Work?

The user visits a website or app connected to the RTB network. Before loading the page, the site sends the request to display the banner to the network along with collected user data (cookies, IP, geo, browser type, gadget, OS, behavioral data).


Supply-side platform (SSP) (RTB platform that helps publishers sell inventory) receives info and passes the bid request to the DSP. Via SSP publisher also defines a suitable bid floor (min. payment threshold that the publisher is willing to receive per impression). Such info is also passed in request to the DSP.


Advertisers set up campaigns on demand-side platforms (DSPs) : define suitable digital ad formats, upload ad units, configure daily budget spend, advertising frequency capping, select targeting options (age, location, OS, gender, ect., of the viewer).


The request from SSP arrives at DSP, then DSP juxtaposes campaign requirements with info contained in the request to define if the impression can be valuable to the advertiser.


If the DSP recognized the impression as valuable (according to budget, targeting, and other campaign parameters) it automatically starts to bid on it by sending the bid response to the ad exchange. The ad exchange is a place where the auction takes place.


Ad exchange receives requests from the rest of the DSPs and starts the auction. The advertiser who offered the highest bid through their DSP wins.


The ad unit of the winner is getting displayed to the user. The entire process takes less than 200 200 milliseconds while the web page is loading.

As you can see, with real-time bidding platforms publishers and advertisers can automatically bargain, trade, and control the media buying process. Real-time bidding RTB auctions are fast, efficient, and cost-effective for all participants of programmatic advertising auctions.

Is There Programmatic Without RTB?

Yes. For sure, it is easy to start confusing programmatic with real-time bidding , however, not all programmatic deals are running through RTB auctions. Programmatic can still automate the targeting and other related processes, but the buying and selling of the inventory can be done directly. In other words, advertisers purchase impressions from publishers via programmatic direct deals and don’t participate in real-time bidding RTB auctions.

Is There Programmatic Without RTB?

Real-Time Bidding Platforms

Their Functions and Benefits


RTB advertising delivers more convenient and rational ways of ad buying and selling to the demand side. Compared to the manual placements it doesn't require long negotiations regarding ad placements, pricing. As well it doesn't require manual scheduling and searching for the good-quality publishers who are willing to monetize their inventory with ads.


With programmatic advertising publishers (supply-side) can effortlessly tap into the largest pool of the world’s demand with real-time bidding platforms. They don’t have to constantly search for advertisers who can offer the highest price for inventory. Above else, with real-time bidding RTB platform publishers can control who they sell inventory to, at what price, and at what sections of the website/app.


On DSP or SSP all the necessary operations, and settings can be adjusted through a single interface. Advertisers adjust media- buying processes while publishers adjust media- selling. No need to manage several solutions at once or navigate a fragmented ad tech market. This is very convenient because both publishers and advertisers access the entire Internet space in a single platform interface.

Platforms for Advertisers

DSP. What is demand-side-platform Basically, it is a technological system designed to buy advertising space online, it works in conjunction with SSP and ad exchanges. The goal of demand-side platforms is to buy ad impressions at the lowest price and at the same time single out only those impressions that meet the requirements of the advertising campaign. It happens through real-time bidding; however, programmatic demand-side platforms (like ad networks as well) can also offer programmatic direct non-RTB deals on RTB platforms and private marketplace deals.

Programmatic advertising campaigns meanwhile can be tuned by advertisers individually through a self-serve advertising platform . Afterward, on the self-serve platform, they air the campaign, choose ad formats, navigate, analyze, and change the flow.

What does it give to advertisers?

The goal of every digital advertiser is to deliver ads that resonate with the audiences — ads that increase brand awareness and build customer loyalty. These goals could be achieved by using the best RTB platforms like SmartyAds demand-side platform (DSP). Through a highly intuitive platform interface, you can manage multiple programmatic advertising campaigns with different ad formats, gain access to local and worldwide supply partners, trade via real-time bidding or through programmatic direct deals, optimize campaigns in real-time, and track advertising campaign performance by analyzing real-time reports.

Platforms for Advertisers

Access to Global Publishers

Campaign Automation

Campaign Optimization

Real-time Analysis

What are the unique advantages of SmartyAds DSP?

RTB advertising platforms like SmartyAds DSP enable advertisers to buy ads that are highly targeted and appeal directly to the needs of the user. This proprietary real-time advertising platform delivers ads to the right audience, at the right time and place, which creates meaningful brand-customer communication and forms stronger purchasing intent.

  • Precise targeting options. Set the criteria of the advertising campaigns based on sociodemographic data and individual characteristics of your target audience: age, gender, location, language, OS, connection type, browser, device brand, and more.
  • Omnichannel reach. SmartyAds DSP is connected to the largest pool of premium publishers and mobile publishers across mediums: mobile, in-app, desktop, and CTV, which helps advertisers to reach their customers wherever they are.
  • The abundance of ad formats. A variety of digital ad formats — video ads (video advertising), display, in-app (mobile game), native, and CTV are available for advertisers at SmartyAds DSP.
  • Brand-safety. SmartyAds DSP closely collaborates with traffic safety providers and utilizes cutting-edge in-house traffic scanners in order to protect traffic from fraud.

Create Strong RTB Campaigns

Choosing Self-Serve or Managed SmartyAds DSP Options!

Platforms for Publishers

SSP. Supply-side platform helps publishers to sell advertising inventory in real-time bidding auctions utilizing the RTB real-time bidding algorithm. Just like DSP works for advertisers, SSPs (monetization platforms) help publishers to fill in ad space on an impression basis.

The purpose of supply-side platforms is to sell advertising slots on websites or in mobile apps for the most optimal price in order to guarantee higher yields for the publisher. If the publisher is eligible to sell advertising space on SSP, they simply register their inventory and obtain a commission per each ad impression they serve.

What does it give to publishers?

Supply-side — digital publishers, app developers, websites, mobile developers (mobile web), and blog owners of any size can join the RTB real-time bidding ecosystem and start ad monetization without dealing with the burdens of manual selling. Cutting-edge technology like SmartyAds SSP allows online publishers to monetize digital inventory, choose the ad formats and ad sizes that fit their audiences, manage profits by defining bid floors, and offer ad inventory to multiple demand sources simultaneously.

Platforms for Publishers

Access to Global Advertisers

Inventory Arrangement

Campaign Controls

Remnants Protection

What are the unique advantages of SmartyAds SSP?

SmartyAds media-selling RTB platform helps to sell inventory in real-time and control ad impression cost, ad format, and other details. It delivers targeted relevant ads to users and guarantees that their experience isn’t affected.

  • Strong campaign controls. With proprietary platform functions, publishers can optimize campaigns in real-time: apply creative restrictions and ad formats, define resolutions and partners to work with, and protect their yields with price floors.
  • Header-bidding. Maximize the number of partners using a header bidding wrapper. Overcome the limitations of the waterfall and obtain bids from demand partners simultaneously.
  • PMP. At SmartyAds SSP publishers can trade in real-time bidding auctions, collaborate with advertisers directly, or opt for private marketplace deals to have better control over their inventory management and partner selection.
  • Inventory performance analysis. Assess inventory performance and find out what types of creatives drive better outcomes, what inventory works best, or what partners bring in the best bids.

Magnify the Value of Your Inventory
on SmartyAds SSP!

Platforms for RTB Partners SSPs & DSPs

Ad Exchanges are platforms based on an open marketplace that enables direct media trading without intermediaries. Just like ad networks, ad exchanges often aggregate advertising inventory from publishers and make it available for purchase. Ad exchange technology accepts bids from DSP, conducts the RTB auction, and announces the winner. Unlike many ad networks, however, advertising exchanges work within the real-time bidding ecosystem supporting the functioning of the vast technology stacks.

What does it give to real-time bidding partners?

The programmatic advertising exchange (programmatic marketplace or RTB ad exchange) automates the transactions — all thanks to real-time bidding. SmartyAds marketplace is a robust online advertising marketplace that connects thousands of media buyers with premium digital publishers, mobile publishers, and app developers from around the world.

Platforms for RTB Partners SSPs & DSPs

No Middlemen

Saving Up on Commissions


Exclusive Partners

What are the unique advantages of SmartyAds Ad Exchange?

With SmartyAds you can work in close partnership with exclusive supply and premium demand partners. Find your target audiences and deliver highly targeted advertising creatives that bring better ROI.

  • Exclusive monetization conditions. By plugging into the SmartyAds Ad Exchange, publishers can finally uncover the real value of their ad inventory and sell ad spaces at competitive prices, ensuring 100 % fill rates and monetizing remnant ad inventory.
  • Targeted impressions. Set targeting by geos, sizes, connection type, etc., in order to ensure that you receive ad impressions relevant to your demand and that convert easily.
  • Best quality traffic. We attract only the best quality traffic across top-tier countries. It is safe as it is constantly being monitored by connected traffic safety providers and in-house traffic scanners.
  • All verticals and geos. SmartyAds digital advertising platform generates traffic across the broadest range of business verticals: lifestyle, gambling, fashion, news, and across top-tier country geos.

Extend Your Advertising Possibilities

With SmartyAds Ad Exchange!

Platforms for Enterprises: Own RTB Solutions

What does white label mean in business?

White label makes it possible to open your own RTB platform and join a programmatic advertising business without having to build everything from scratch. Ad tech providers simply “share” their own software with other companies in exchange for a particular monthly fee (as a rule RevShare). As an owner, you manage ad operations on it.

How does real-time bidding RTB work for white-label solutions?

With white-label technology, you can launch your own real-time bidding platform (own ad exchange, SSP, DSP, or even ad server).

What Does it Give to Platform Owners?

You save your time, money, and efforts; therefore, you can focus on what you do best — marketing and capitalizing on your own terms. SmartyAds offers white-label solutions such as SmartyAds White Label DSP and SmartyAds White Label SSP for media buyers and sellers. Our white-label solutions are custom-made, tested in a bidding RTB environment, and personally tailored to every client.

Platforms for Enterprises: Own RTB Solutions

Independence in Business



Saving Media Budgets

What are the unique advantages of SmartyAds White Label solutions?

  • Very quick installation. It takes less than one month to fully deploy the new platform and suit it to each client. This way you don’t lose time and are free to enter the market as soon as your ad tech platform is ready.
  • Experience and expertise. We’ve spent over 9 years building RTB advertising platforms for our own full-stack infrastructure and for our clients. The experience and expertise we’ve accumulated enable us to create products that suit each client’s needs.
  • Smooth operation. The proven track of successful installations for our clients proves that our white-label platforms are of the highest quality. Time-tested technology is a guarantee of bug-free operation and smooth functioning.
  • Continuous improvement. White-label platforms are continuously supported and improved by our tech team. This means that we continuously improve the technical side, add new features, and review your feedback to resolve problems and make platforms work better.

Increase Your Advertising Potential

With SmartyAds Own RTB Solutions!

To Wrap It Up

Real-time bidding platform gears in action an automatic mechanism thanks to which tons of online ad placements are being bought and sold daily in the global ad network. Real-time bidding technology unites multiple ad networks and platforms. With RTB advertising self-serve platform, advertisers improve user acquisition and publishers sell ad space without remnant ad units. SmartyAds provides multiple advertisers and publishers with access to all tech components of the programmatic advertising ecosystem that enable seamless media-buying, media-selling, and building your own independent ad tech market solutions.

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