Many sites on the internet including citizen journalist sites such as Digital Journal are partially if not wholly funded by advertising. Advertising on the internet has become a very complicated business and includes many complex operations.
RTB or Real Time Bidding is one such operation. The video here should be viewed in order to get a clear idea of what all the operation involves. I personally found the video to be an excellent introduction to the subject from someone who had not the slightest idea of what it was A partial description is given by Wikipedia:
Real-time bidding (RTB) refers to the means by which ad inventory is bought and sold on a per-impression basis, via programmatic instantaneous auction, similar to financial markets. With real-time bidding, advertising buyers bid on an impression and, if the bid is won, the buyer’s ad is instantly displayed on the publisher’s site.
My simplistic view of this is that it involves auctioning off one instance of a viewer's eyeballs looking at a web page with the ad bought by RTB appearing on the page. The hope is that the ad will not only be viewed but that the viewer may actually purchase something as a result. In former times ads were often simply static images promoting some product or service. Of course those types of ads still exist all over the place even on web pages but in digital advertising there are many newer devices for advertising that involve quite different techniques.
For example sponsored content:
Sponsored content is paid text, video, or images created to promote a brand or product that is presented alongside similar media that isn't promotional. For example, a blog entry that discusses the benefits of a specific product that was paid for by product advertiser is sponsored content.For example at the bottom of this Digital Journal article you find a number of squares that contain links to sponsored content. Each item resembles the contributor report above that is a news report. The sponsored content also looks like a news report and even has a posting date and is posted by admin. One posting reports how to pay just pennies for brand new products. It is in effect an ad for bidding site Quibids. Another report is about a diet pill that is just too effective and is storming Canada. The ad is a promo for a diet pill. Such ads have links to the site that is selling what is being "reported" on.
Sponsored content is a type of native advertising:
Native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user's experience. Native ad formats match both the form and function of the user experience in which they are placed. The advertiser's intent is to make the paid advertising feel less intrusive and thus increase the likelihood users will click on it. The word "native" is used to refer to the formatting of the advertising materials to make them appear more consistent with other media in the recipient's universe.
As the appended video notes when a potential ad placer bids on an ad he or she may have different targets in mind such as viewers in a certain locality or viewers searching for certain items such as a car. Websites keep information about viewers often collected by cookies.. This information will be available to potential advertisers and may influence whether they will or not bid in RTB. The result is that you will find ads that reflect your interests at least according to the data collected. I perused sites selling used cars including eBay. Now eBay and some other sites always show me ads for cars even though I am no longer looking for a car. Next time you open a web page remember you are auctioning off the glimpse of the webpage by your eyeballs. Don't blink or go to sleep that would be cheating the advertiser.