Bringing much-needed transparency to RTB
Real-time bidding (RTB) is great for scale and efficiency, but it can come with risks for brand image, as recent developments have highlighted. Columnist Alex Bornyakov discusses these risks and explores whether it is possible to increase transparency in this programmatic channel.
Controversies involving YouTube are nothing new, but when well-known brands, including Walmart and PepsiCo, start boycotting the platform, it’s clearly time to sit up and take notice.
Many brands have pulled ad campaigns from Google-owned YouTube following revelations their ads were being served alongside extremist or offensive content. Not only is poor ad placement bad for brand image, it also provides revenue for content creators; in other words, brands are unintentionally funding bigotry, racism and terrorism. The automated real-time bidding (RTB) environment YouTube uses to place ads is taking some of the blame for the situation, with advertisers now demanding increased transparency into where their ads appear.
So, is RTB worth the risk for brands, and is it possible to increase transparency in this programmatic channel?
With the negative reports around RTB and open exchanges, you might wonder why any advertiser would choose to transact via this channel. The simple answer is that RTB provides unprecedented scale and efficiency, which non-biddable environments have so far been unable to achieve. Advertisers can reach thousands of publisher websites with only a fraction of the administrative hassle and contractual obligations of direct deals. When this is added to the flexibility and precise targeting capabilities of programmatic, using an RTB-based open exchange is a very attractive prospect for brands looking to gain the maximum return on their marketing budgets.