One can argue that the stock exchange is a modern technology marvel. A system that seamlessly matches up buyers and sellers to complete transactions in real-time at agreed upon prices. At some point in our careers, I’m sure we’ve all wondered why this same rational system did not apply to sports and media. Brands are the buyers, teams and publishers are the sellers and the “stock” sold is fan engagement via various forms of inventory. It could all be very rational and non-emotional versus today’s environment of heated, drawn out negotiations and pricing that varies based on property, category and market.
Over the past 24 months, in the digital media marketplace, we’ve seen the emergence of such a “rational” system, better known as “Real-Time Bidding” (RTB), quickly emerge as a viable platform for buyers and sellers to transact, namely with online display inventory. I use the term “emergence” loosely. Today, 5 billion1 display impressions are served daily through the RTB exchanges and that will double in the next 24 months. A simplified version of how RTB transactions, called auctions, work: