What is Header Bidding?

Header Bidding is a type of bid management empowered by Contango’s SmartWrapper that allows publishers to offer first look and bid opportunity to multiple programmatic partners. This increases bidding competition on a per-impression basis, which can drive up the price and increase overall advertising revenue.

Without Header Bidding

SeqAuctions

With Header Bidding

AdvBidding

5 things you need to know about Header Bidding

It’s simple auction economics — the more people bidding on and competing for an item, the higher the price the item will sell for. Why wouldn’t publishers want this for their ad inventory?

They do, obviously. But they’re not getting it under the current programmatic setup.

The current programmatic auction dynamic is a “members only club,” with many would-be buyers waiting outside to bid on what’s left after the initial auction. The approach of Header Bidding aims to fix that.

In an effort to shed light on this relatively new concept, here are five things you need to know about Header Bidding.

First, just what is Header Bidding?

Header Bidding is a type of inventory bid management that allows publishers to offer first look and bid opportunity to multiple programmatic partners that is then carried through to the publishers adserver. The set up is powered by a demand partner’s javascript tag that is placed on a publisher’s page (usually in the header) which requests bids from the partner before the adserver is called. This is sometimes referred to as header tag integrations or tagless integrations. The demand partner passes their bid value (through a key value pair) into the ad tag(s) that call the adserver. A campaign with line items in the publisher’s adserver are pre-set to target to those parameters. If the demand partner’s campaign wins above all other opportunity, the partner is called to serve the ad at the price they bid to pay.

What is the key benefit?

At its root, the key benefit is Header Bidding’s core concept — it enables publishers to increase bidding competition on a per-impression basis, which can drive up the price and increase overall advertising revenue. By taking cross marketplace bids and placing them in the first auction/marketplace, all marketplaces can compete to win the impression.

What’s the main drawback?

At this early stage of Header Bidding integrations, it’s not plug and play. Since we’re talking about integrating multiple demand partners, the implementation has to be tailored to each specific partner. This type of custom coding isn’t easy, and there are no standards yet defined. Publishers who are early technology adopters shouldn’t shy away as effective functionality is achievable through proper setup. More importantly, there are concerns to address around data leakage (the browser exposes a lot about the user and the page to these buyers even if they don’t buy) and page latency. Setting up time out limits across partners so pages aren’t held up from rendering is super important to avoid hurting the user experience.

What do I need to set this up?

Header Bidding integrations usually require help from your development team to get the code added to pages as well as support from adops to set up the corresponding campaign line items in your adserver and let’s not forget a BD resource to set up the account and integration with the platforms that offer it.

So, who are some of the vendors offering it?

The concept of Header Bidding is available through integrations from a number of demand/marketplace platforms. To list a few: A9 (Amazon), Sonobi, Rubicon, IndexExchange, OpenX, AppNexus, Sovrn, Yieldbot and Criteo all offer it.

Here’s what the Header Bidding timeline looks like:

  1. Collect the Header Bids before entering the real-time auction.
  2. Those bids enter the auction along with the impression.
  3. The bids complete against bidders inside the auction.
  4. The highest bid (from bidders both inside and outside the auction) wins the impression.


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