Transparency in Header Bidding Should be Yesterday’s News

Today’s Guest Post is Sponsored by PubWise.io.

PubWise is a SaaS application that manages the entire header bidding technology for any website or multiple websites. It eliminates long setup times, optimizes ongoing management, provides best in-class data analytics, and uses real-time optimizations powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Transparency in Header Bidding Should Be Yesterday’s News

Programmatic advertising is constantly evolving, but one constant are complaints that the programmatic buying process isn’t as transparent as it could be. The supply chain between a publisher and an advertiser is complex, and publishers often lose money along the way. At times, advertisers are paying $1, but publisher only receives $0.40 of it.The rest is dispersed along the supply chain to Direct Service Providers (DSPs), Exchanges, data management platforms and other intermediaries.

When header bidding entered the ad tech scene, it swung power back to publishers. Not only did it help them increase revenue, it also helped clear up some of the cloudy waters associated with the programmatic chain. Better than ever before, publishers could evaluate the performance of their partners. However, publishers still need to make sure they carefully evaluate header bidding service providers to make sure those companies are dedicated to transparency. As you weigh your header bidding options, here are some things you should look for to protect your ad revenue performance.

Header Bidding helped to clear up some of the cloudy waters associated with the programmatic chain, but publishers still need to keep transparency top of mind when evaluating a header bidding service provider partner. As you weigh your header bidding options, here are some things you should look for to protect your ad revenue performance.

Be Aware of the Black Box

Though header bidding evens the playing field and decreases the number of intermediaries needed to complete a transaction, be wary of companies whose primary role is not as a demand source for you, but who are inserting their own demand in the mix. This is also called a “biased auction.” It puts publishers at risk for losing money when competing exchanges or demand partners bid on inventory. It’s important that the header bidding solution you decide to use is demand agnostic.You want a neutral third party who will ensure that the highest bid always wins.

As a publisher, comprehensive data and analytics on your inventory give you the tools you need to adjust your advertising strategy to maximize yield. Understanding the true value and performance of your inventory is next to impossible with companies who conduct auctions within the “black box.”

Being informed about how your programmatic advertising works, who’s involved and what to look out for is important to make sure you aren’t getting less than what you’re owed.

Check out the Tech and Analytics

Header bidding technology is complex, and no two companies handle their analytics in the same way. Publishers should be aware of potential performance discrepancies between their header bidding partners data and on the page data. Though it’s nearly impossible for a header bidder to be 100% matched to another reporting system (like DFP), large discrepancies in reporting can be catastrophic for a publisher trying to make decisions from data. Things like poor API performance, poor architecture or improper techniques for high volume event handling can result in lost data. Publishers can ask header bidding providers how they handle analytics events and how they are tracked.

You’ll also want to find a header bidding partner with reporting tools that offer valuable insight — the kind that can help you evolve your online advertising strategy. It’s difficult to make decisions to improve your revenue if you can’t really see what’s going on.  

Protection of Publisher Data

Header bidding solves a lot of problems, but data security is something publishers need to keep in mind when selecting a partner.

The fact that inventory is offered to multiple exchanges at once means bidders can access data from every user who was served an impression from the auction. The problem with this is that some bidders can take the audience data and then use that insight to identify users on websites that have lower CPMs. It’s important that publishers vet who they add as demand partners with header bidding, can easily make adjustments, and can control who is involved.

Due to the complexity of getting started, header bidding solutions have access to a publisher’s website’s code, DFP setup and demand partners to get non-tech savvy operations up and running. If the solution uses a proprietary system that your developers can’t access or edit, it makes it difficult to identify issues and fix them. Partner with a provider who knows how important user privacy is to publishers and includes your dev team in the implementation process. Transparency and protection of data should be the standard, not the option.

Publishers do need to do their due diligence when selecting a header bidding partner and should be aware that not all containers are created equal–and not all of them operate in the publisher’s best interest. However, some companies understand the challenges publishers face with header bidding implementation, management, and yield optimization and seek to fill the need for fair auctions and transparent data. Taking the above points into consideration when selecting a header bidding partner will give you a better opportunity to control the success of your online advertising operations.