It’s hard to imagine that real-time content can actually live up to the hype surrounding it these days. But when it comes to the display ad market, many think that real-time bidding can do a lot to help resolve some of the inequities of buying and selling advertising online. 

With a study released today, consulting firm Forrester Research is arguing for a switch to bidding for display advertising. And at AdMeld’s Annual Partner Forum in New York, real-time bidding was looking more like a reality than a future hope for the industry.

Three months ago, AdMeld had processed more than a billion real time bids on behalf of its publisher partners. By the end of 2009, they were up 6 billion bids. The ad optimization company is convinced that real-time bids can solve some of the problems inherent in selling display advertising online. 

And there are a lot. For instance, more than 30% of marketers polled by AdMeld expect the effectiveness of display media to decrease over the next three years.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that much display advertising has been commoditized for advertisers. Because of the low rates that publishers earn on ad networks for much of their unsold inventory, many brands have turned against using them. But when the alternative to low CPMs is unsold advertising, publishers find themselves turning to ad netowrks, ad exchanges and DSPs for help.

Amiad Solomon, president & CEO of Peer39 says:

“For large publishers, whatever they can sell directly, they should.”

But due to the limitless space on the web, most publishers have trouble selling out their advertising space. And their predicament isn’t helped by venues that sell ad space for varying rates.

As Jeremy Steinberg, VP of digital sales, FOX News of FOX News, puts it:

marketplace is saying that buying online is very innefficient for
advertisers. We as publishers have to figure out a way to make that

Brian Lesser, general manager of the media innovation group at WPP:

“There are far too many companies making money off the innefficiencies of the space. Over the next two years there will be a lot of consolidation.”

But first, there has to be a better way for publishers and advertisers to communicate with each other. The promise of real-time bidding means that advertisers can choose audiences to target based on the minute criteria they care about at a given time, and publishers can have more control over their inventory.

Forrester’s Emily Riley says that “audience buying will account for an increasing share of bulk media buys.”

However, there is still a long way to go. The consensus on the TKKT panel was that while real-time reporting has greatly improved, analysis on the backend still needs work. Says Kirk McDonald, president of digital at Time Inc.:

“We need to more from better reports to actually delivering clients.”

For publishers, any tool that can get them better rates for inventory is a boon. Says Steinberg:

“At the end of the day, I just need to figure out how to sell more of my inventory — versus giving it to somebody else.”