The benefits of targeted ad buying in real-time have piqued the interests of advertisers and publishers. As online advertising shifts to more automation and programmatic processes, misconceptions inevitably rise. This is particularly so for real-time bidding (RTB).

There is certainly a growing trend towards programmatic ad buying. eMarketer reports that four of every five US digital display spending is on programmatic advertising totaling to $32.56 billion or 78% this year. This is expected to grow up to 84% in 2019. RTB currently contributes 44% to the programmatic share.

As the RTB industry expands, specific vendor approaches have built false ideas around this platform. What may be a mere special case has become a (hasty) generalization for some investors. We don’t want these misrepresentations of RTB to fuel hesitations, so we summed up the five common myths about RTB and busted it with facts.

Myth 1: You don’t know where your ads are showing up

Some myths in RTB may be attributed to certain RTB vendors. One of them is the misconception that advertisers don’t know where their ad creatives are showing up. This is a priority concern because it can affect brand safety. However, the lack of transparency in this area is only applicable to certain Demand-Side Platforms (DSP),  which is the platform advertisers use to automate ad buying, and not the whole system.

Fact: RTB is one of the most transparent forms of online advertising.

The DSPs required for RTB have various reporting tools. The best ones are equipped with multiple levels of granularity that covers the campaign, domain, placement, and creative data. It should be noted, however, that the data DSPs can deliver is only based on what is made available by the publishers. There are certainly exceptions, but most of the RTB technology available provide better granularity of data than traditional online advertising models.

Myth 2: RTB needs cookie data to work

RTB puts up individual impressions for auction, which certainly requires cookie data in order to gather website, page, and user data. It is this targeted feature of RTB that has won the favor of advertisers, contrary to purchasing bulks of inventory before. But while cookie data is vital to the nature of RTB, it is not its prerequisite.

Fact: Using cookies for targeted advertising is only one of the approaches to RTB. It doesn’t always have to be cookies that deliver user data to the RTB ecosystem.

Matt Young from Media Post saysthat non-personally identifiable data can be used in place of cookies. This includes the internet protocol (IP) address, user agent, and user/device ID. Publisher first-party data can readily replace cookie data in the latter’s absence. Targeting specific publishers helps target specific audiences at scale because there are publisher-specific audience affinities. As a matter of fact, 18% of all RTB impressions sold via Index Platform in 2012 are cookieless. So RTB can certainly adapt should the need for higher user privacy endanger the existence of cookies.

Myth 3: Only low-quality and unsold inventory is on RTB

Programmatic advertising did start out with unsold inventory so publishers can maximize their impression sales; however, the automation of the buying process has raked in more investors, and this means better inventory.

Fact: Major and majority of publishers are now bringing their impressions on the RTB ecosystem, including the “premium” ones.

Additionally, DSPs and Supply-Side Platforms (SSP or platform publishers use to automate ad selling) get rid of low-quality inventory to maintain standards within the RTB. With more publishers sending out inventory on the RTB and measurement systems securing quality impressions, there’s no worry about the inventory quality you’ll bid on the RTB.

Myth 4: You need a big capital to join RTB

The RTB started out with high demands from its early implementers considering the costs of the technology and campaigns. Historically, advertisers were required to buy a certain number of placements and page views.

Fact: But all that has changed now. Technology continues to evolve and so has (the costs of) RTB. Now that fully automated platforms are put in place, budget limits have gotten lower for those interested investors.

RTB companies have now opened up the market to welcome more publishers and advertisers, making the platform more accessible at lower costs. Additionally, RTB spending is becoming more predefined so that advertisers only pay for results.

Myth 5: Everything will be RTB in the future

Certainly, RTB has made online advertising easier. It is now more efficient with instant results. Publishers sell their impressions at the optimal price and advertisers purchase the most profitable ad spaces. But RTB won’t be the face of the entire online advertising industry.

Fact: Programmatic advertising will be.

The myth is possibly caused by confusing RTB with programmatic advertising. As we mentioned earlier, RTB contributes to the programmatic share, which basically means it’s a kind of programmatic advertising. While RTB may largely reinvent mobile advertising, it is programmatic advertising in general that is projected to be the future of online advertising.