Industry Insights

Unboxed: What’s in a Bid Request?

How exactly does your ad even appear on a website?

The Programmatic/RTB Supply Chain

Everyone knows both ends of the chain in programmatic advertising: a publisher sells ad space and an advertiser has a creative that they would like to show to relevant users. What exactly happens in between?

Right there, where the buyers and sellers finally connect, is what is commonly known as a “bid request” The bid request comes in at the point of the RTB auction, which happens between the DSP and SSP (right in the middle of the RTB supply chain). The RTB supply chain, in programmatic advertising, is typically used to refer to an open system where the buy side and sell side are independent entities (in contrast with walled gardens and ad networks that combine both sides).

RTB Supply Chain
Source: Jounce Media’s Little Black Book of Real Time Bidding

When an RTB auction happens, the ad exchange sends a bid request to numerous eligible advertisers where advertisers (via DSPs), judge if the bid request is a match, based on their own targeting criteria. Advertisers will then respond to the bid to the SSP via a bid request where the price for the impression isindicated. The winning bid, by bid price, will then be awarded the impression where the advertiser’screative is called to serve. This process is critical in allowing programmatic advertising to work.

Source: Jounce Media’s Little Black Book of Real Time Bidding

To explain it simply…

A bid request is essentially a Request for Quote in business speak, containing the details and information that advertisers need to bid! While this appears as a piece of code (or a script), the syntax, by OpenRTB standards, makes it legible.

Source: Developer Tools on Google Authorized Buyers

Wait… What is OpenRTB?

The Real-Time Bidding (RTB) Project, formerly known as the OpenRTB Consortium, assembled technology leaders from both the Supply and Demand sides in November 2010 to develop a new API specification for companies interested in an open protocol for the automated trading of digital media across a broader range of platforms, devices, and advertising solutions. These standards provide the protocol for real-time bidding transactions and include standardized and consistent ways to deliver necessary information about the ad impression; for example the publisher information, the creative standards and sizes of the unit, the fraud mitigation signals that have been applied and other additional information that buyers require to make a bidding decision.

Ok… What is OpenRTB in Human Speak?

It is essentially a global project to standardise tracking and passback parameters across players in the advertising industry to ensure the same definition of what is included in the bid request.

The next time someone asks you about “bid requests” or “OpenRTB”, you’ll know exactly what they are talking about. 😉

To understand it straight from the source, do check out Jounce Media’s Little Black Book of Real Time Bidding.


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