I Would Bet on RTB

Having lost a large portion of the 20 pounds I’ve ever gambled in my life playing online poker, I was going to meet Adam from PKR to see if I could have it back!

Of course this is not true, Adam works in RTB (Real Time Bidding) at PKR.com which is one of the most innovate brand-side companies in the digital market. Much of the reason for this is that they are a purely e-commerce brand, born and bred in the digital world.


In a nutshell (here we go!), RTB is the continuous (real-time) process of buying display advertising through an auction-based (bidding) platform. This is then broken down into two approaches: Prospecting and Retargeting.

‘Prospecting’ is the acquisition of new customers and using targeting features of the bidder (e.g. country, day of the week and time of day) to hit relevant audiences at scale. The second approach is ‘retargeting’, which starts by dropping a cookie onto a user when they visit PKR’s website and this then allows PKR to track that user.  With a cookied user PKR can target them with relevant display ads as they visit different websites.

More innovation comes from PKR’s structure which enables them to deal with ‘back-end optimisation’. They are something of hybrid of brand and agency: a brand with all the front-end technology on site. This means they are able to link their conversion data (people who bet money on the site) with their front-end data (their RTB campaigns). The normal agency/client relationship cannot do this as effectively due to data overlap, technical incompatibility and brands – understandably – being protective of their data. On the other side, this can leave agencies restricted by only optimising on front-end performance.

Marketing channels do not run in isolation from each other and being able to access all channels is the first step in understanding what’s really going on. People often have to make a choice between brand or agency (read about that here) but perhaps this will be a thing of the past.

All in all this lunch was pretty fascinating because, due to the high level of specific user targeting and therefore efficiency, it’s clear RTB is the future of marketing.

I ended up buying Adam lunch so that’s another 20 quid I’ve lost to online poker, although this time it was far more interesting, not to mention delicious.