It’s 2018, a two years have passed and header bidding is still discussed and debated on a daily basis around water coolers all over the industry. Header bidding is likely the most lucrative option for publishers to maximize revenue and improve operational efficiency from from their programmatic partners when implemented and operated correctly.
If you don’t know what header bidding is I first recommend reading our header bidding guide for dummies. At a high level, header bidding creates a real-time auction in the client browser on the header of a publishers page, receiving bids via API connections from multiple demand partners. These bids are aggregated in the header, a unified auction of these demand partners are held, and the winning bid is sent to the ad server (DFP 99% of the time) in which that bid will compete with any other trafficked line items. This creates true liquidity on an impression basis.
The next iteration of header bidding will be moving the header auction from the client side, to a server to server environment. The problem with having the auction take place in the header is that when you have a lot of partners, like over 8, you are opening up a large deal of browser connections and using alot of resources which can cause latency and create all sorts of issues. Some users with slow internet connections, may be hard to bid on as the auction is dependent on the client loading up web resources.
Server side header bidding, while not the standard yet, in theory has many benefits. Moving bidders to compete within a server, opposed to the client browser, should reduce latency and if a platform is developed within the server, offer advertisers granular data which could increase the value of the publisher inventory. Time will tell how long it will take for a server to server product to be the standard for publishers who use header bidding.
Many demand partners have rapidly adopted header bidding and created their own adapters and wrapper solutions over the last year. Understanding which partners are providing value in your stack, solve issues quickly and bring unique demand to the table is very important for the long term. As the industry consolidates, some middlemen header partners may go out of business and publishers should only work with partners they trust will pay them. In many cases, publishers will choose who to work with in their header stack based on past relationships, information on the internet or word of mouth from publisher friends.
Metrics to be aware of from partners:
Where is their demand coming from?
Video Header Bidding
Publishers are always looking for the newest way to optimize the revenue they generate from video advertising and video header bidding is on the horizon. Video demand and attribution is still very fragmented and what the industry standard should be is still being debated. Video is tough to contain in a header bidding environment because load times are much longer with many different technology stacks participating in the auction. Companies that crack video header bidding and successfully sell their solution to publishers will reap in a large slice of revenue as publishers are eager for a video header bidding solution.
Some companies are actively working on video header bidding such as Cedato, Index exchange, and Playwire.