The Basics of Basis DSP

An introduction to Real-time Bidding (RTB) fundamentals on Basis DSP.


Media buying has come a long way from traditional mass-purchasing; it has evolved from buying ads directly from publishers, to purchasing through aggregators such as ad networks, to going through real-time exchanges that act much like financial markets. The most modern form of automated or programmatic media buying (with no insertion orders or contracts) is made possible by the technology known as real-time bidding (RTB).

Real-time bidding allows the automation of the media buying process that up to now has largely been manual.This makes online advertising easier, less labor-intensive, less error-prone, and more efficient for both agencies and publishers in setting up and running a campaign. Costs are reduced, thereby improving profitability.

Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), like Basis DSP, are companies that advertisers use to create RTB campaigns. You can imagine a DSP as essentially an ad server that has been directly integrated into sources of impressions.

What is Real-Time Bidding (RTB)?

RTB (Real-Time Bidding) is an online advertising technology that enables publishers (website owners) to sell advertising inventory through an ad exchange platform on an impression-by-impression basis as each impression becomes available on a publisher’s website in real time.

RTB enables buyers (advertisers) and sellers (publishers) to dynamically adjust their bids based on changing market conditions and real-time feedback that depicts the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Typically, RTB is used in conjunction with user data, allowing for improved ad targeting and greater campaign effectiveness, which has led to the concept of "audience buying" rather than "inventory buying".

How Does the Bidding Process Work?

As the name implies, real-time bidding operates on an auction model. You set the max bid (CPM) that you will pay for a placement and win impressions at $0.01 above the next highest bidder. Here is an illustration:

If “Advertiser A” bids $2.00 CPM and “Advertiser B” bids $1.50 CPM, “Advertiser A” will win the impression at $1.51 CPM (or to put it more accurately, $0.00151 for that specific impression.)

Although you bid at a CPM rate, you are actually bidding on each individual impression (for example, $1.00 CPM = $0.001 per impression.)

How Much Do Impressions Cost?

The price of an impression in an RTB environment is very dynamic. In a real-time auction where practically every impression is sold for a different price, the answer would be another question: “The price for which impression?”

There are many factors that play into the price of each impression, but ultimately prices are dictated by supply and demand. For example, if nobody wants to buy Brazilian impressions from, then the cost might effectively work out to $0.25 CPM (hypothetically). If everybody wants to buy US impressions on during Christmas season, the effective price might end up being $10+ CPM (hypothetically).

How Does Targeting Work?

In the milliseconds before ads are served, we are given a ton of details about the user who is about to view the upcoming ad. From geographic location to browser and device information, we have access to an abundance of data that is used for targeting. Within our platform, you can specify most of this targeting data as an audience filter for your campaigns. This way, you can ensure that the right people will be viewing your ad.

In short, every impression is analyzed individually based on its characteristics and bid on accordingly if it matches an advertiser’s targeting criteria.

What's a Campaign?

A “campaign” is an advertising term that’s widely used to describe a bundle of configuration parameters for an advertising initiative. In the display advertising world, this bundle of specifics includes, but is not limited to:

  • The creative (banners)
  • A destination website when users click on the banner
  • Bid prices
  • Targeting rules (such as geography, device, time, context, demographic)

What Makes Basis Better?

Basis DSP was designed specifically with the self-serve, data-driven advertiser in mind – which means that it was designed to be both the easiest and most powerful way to buy display advertising online.

Here are the core reasons for what makes Basis great:

  • Transparency – Full data granularity on the campaign, site, placement, and creative levels. You know exactly where every dollar of your ad spend is going, down to the exact placement and banner
  • Interface – Fast and easy-to-use interface that provides a friendly experience. Totally self-serve.
  • Control – When you make changes to your campaigns, the system reacts immediately, giving you unprecedented control over your media-buying experience. Domain level media buying allows for very specific media planning, in addition to run-of-network or run-of-category.
  • Service – Our account managers are some of the most helpful people you will ever meet! Rarely will you find an advertising platform that provides the level of service we do, for customers of all sizes.
  • Flexibility – Upload your ad, or select your ad from a vault of your ads.