Header Bidding Simplified

Header Bidding 101

(Publisher talk!)

My name is Marc Joffe and this blog is about Header Bidding Simplified, and Part 10 of the Publisher Series. Striving for simple explanations to the complex and current trends, in the ever changing display advertising industry. This post is written from Vancouver, Canada, and the video will follow on my YouTube channel soon. This vLog was inspired by a colleague who sent over a WhatsUp message to the JP group about Header Bidding (HB) and the latest and greatest news. An example of Demand and Supply sides working together for your interest.

What is Header Bidding?

Header bidding is a piece of code, placed into a publisher header, that let’s demand sources bid before the ad server.

According to a recent article dated March 28, 2016 in AdOps Insider and MarketingLandMarTech Landscape: What Is Header Bidding — And Why Should Publishers Care? Header Bidding is another way to maximize a publisher’s ad space by having code in the web page (header)  that creates an auction. In the never ending quest to maximize all inventory, a pre server call to a exchange to increase a publisher’s value of their inventory. Another way of looking at it, Header Bidding is an RTB Marketplace before the ad server sets a sequential priority or  the “WaterFall.”

Some questions that you may be asking;

  • Isn’t the ad server suppose to do this already?
  • Isn’t RTB the answer to this in the first place in 2012?
  • Why is  Header Bidding even necessary?
  • Why are Pubs considering and implementing?
  • Whats all the fuss anyway? Why? why?

Good questions. From the Supply side, it’s another strategic decision to squeeze out every drop of precious inventory, while fighting the inevitable…  drop in the value of their inventory due to scale. A drop in the value of inventory that’s a result of being channeled into a buying group and commoditized. Header Bidding can result in a higher fill and maximized yield.

Google gets Priority

I’m sure you’re not surprised… In Dart for Publisher (DFP) priority (Dynamic allocation) is given to Google to outbid the final bid by $0.01 cents, and in some cases, this may not be in the best interest to maximizing your ad revenue.  And this priority is affected by the exchange bidding volumes…Google gets the chance to outbid. Very interesting.. read on!

Editor’s Note: April 13, 2016, Must read latest development! Google responds to Header Bidding with “First Look”. “Google counters header bidding with exchange bidding for Dynamic Allocation

Latest Update: March 31st, 2017. “Google Removes Its ‘Last-Look’ Auction Advantage” A year later Google reconsiders and removes its’ advantage.

Larger Ad Exchanges get Priority to Bid?

Bigger is better. Exchanges that have larger volumes of bids are given priority to bid on inventory before smaller exchanges. The higher volume of bids then the greater the opportunity to bid in the ad server RTB auction. By taking this decision out of the ad server, it’s a front loaded decision to maximize yield. It can also be considered as “hacking” the ad server, to make it more exciting.

Here’s some of the exchanges testing HBS:

For a more detailed discussion of Google’s favorable position and more on Header Bidding read “The Rise Of the Header Bidding System” on AdExchanger.

Many Different Ad Calls in Header

There’s been discussions about Header Bidding Systems adding another layer to the already load heavy webpages, and that this increase the load times considerably. Longer loading pages and users leave the site. Not good for revenue. The more ad calls the slower the page loads and 10 to 15 ad calls are maximum.

For an in depth analysis of the exact calls by provider, refer to Ad Ops Insiders “Header Bidding Implementation in the Wild” or “Header Bidding: Step-By-Step“. But Publishers have found that consolidating those calls into 1 call from a Header Bidding partner makes more sense, especially the mature and larger Publishers that were early adopters. And a new industry has pop up to accommodate. Watch the video from Andrew Casale the CEO of Index Exchange explains the origins of Header Bidding and impact on Video.

Final Thoughts Header Bidding

My sense is that a Header Bidding is really just a way to connect to an RTB marketplace…like multiple demand partners hardcoded on the page and wrapped up in 1 tag call, and then linked to the ad server. For more information on Header Bidding, see the article by OpenX “The Evolution of Header Bidding and the Rise of Containers“. In reality, the ad server technology needs to be updated to accommodate this programmatically… or else it’s just another hard coded “first look” deal. Editors Note: Google calls their new Header System “First Look”, interesting choice and maybe they read my blog post first?

What is means to you as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Pub?

“Relying on a one solution that fits all approach to yield optimization, is to lose out of ad revenue.”

Talk to your Ad Ops lead and find out how much “tweaking” is being done now to maximize yield, and the number of  “first look” ad partners.. If you’re considering more than 1 first look ad partner to maximize yield.. then you’re ready looking at something similar.

Are you ready for Header Bidding?

Consider if your team has the technical skills to implement a Header based solution, how long it will take and will it be worth it.

Now go have a look.. can you afford not to look into Header Bidding?

Digital Marketing INSIDER video blog

Need the advantage of an publisher manager, international account manager or ad partner manager? My name is Marc Joffe and I can help manage your display inventory or create new demand for your advertising space. As a Publisher Advocate that’s what I love to do. I work from Vancouver, Canada and still make a great Dutch “toastie.” @adopsonline. I vlog about display, seo and marketing. Subscribe to my new youTube channel