Header Bidding Grows in Importance

Header bidding is taking over advertising. Scarcely two months ago, when we attended the IAB Annual Leadership Summit, header bidding was discussed in the Town Hall on programmatic, but it was just a small part of the agenda. Ah, but that was in January and now we are in March, and at IAB’s Programmatic Marketplace Conference, all the buzz was  about header bidding. The tool isn’t new; Digiday wrote about it last summer:

“Header bidding, also known as advance bidding or pre-bidding, is an advanced programmatic technique wherein publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers (mostly DoubleClick for Publishers). The idea is that by letting multiple demand sources bid on the same inventory at the same time, publishers increase their yield and make more money.”

In other words, it a pre-look at a publisher’s inventory, so that inventory can be bought as premium and not just as remnant.

Nearly 70% of publishers now use header bidding technology, according to Tom Shields, SVP of publisher strategy at AppNexus. Yet all header bidding implementations aren’t alike.  Like all new technologies, this one, too, is not without its pitfalls. It requires somewhat complicated technical implementation, lest it cause latency. This would be especially true on the mobile web, where publishers are racing to speed up their pages through technologies such as Instant Articles and Google AMP. To make up for this, many header code providers are creating header wrappers that cut back on operational hurdles when publishers use multiple header providers and offer timeout settings to ease latency problems.

We began supporting it as soon as our publishers and brands requested it — actually at the end of last year. You can understand why brands wanted it:  On the buy side, advertisers are given the opportunity to bid on all available inventory and not just remnant inventory like in a waterfall system.

And for publishers struggling to monetize as much of their inventory as possible without declaring it remnant,  header bidding offers a means to optimize yield, cut down on passbacks, increase transparency of inventory value, and eliminate Google’s favoritism for its own ad exchange, AdX.

So it’s a gift for programmatic, giving advertisers better return on investment and publishers increased revenue.

As a platform provider, we already know how to solve these problems and implement header bidding so it’s a smoother experience for everyone.