How Real-Time Bidding Works

When an Internet user types the address of a web page in the address field of his or her browser and hits the Return key, advertisers are instantly alerted to the impending presence-and the momentary attention-of that user. Potential advertisers quickly find out the person’s lifestyle, Internet browsing history, and shopping habits. An auction is held for the chance to present an ad to that user on that web page at that time. The winner of the auction presents its ad.

All of this takes place in less than two-tenths of a second-less time than it takes for the web page to show up on the user’s computer screen. Everything goes on, unobtrusively, behind the scenes. Most Internet users are unaware of what’s happening, ...

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