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Header Bidding – What is it and how can we help?

Jodie Cormack - 2nd August 2017 - 0 comments

Header Bidding is one of the most important advancements in ad technology since the introduction of real-time bidding (RTB), but how much do you truly understand about the new industry innovation?

Header Bidding is a unified auction conducted by publishers outside their ad server, bids are requested from each and every demand vendor simultaneously before they decide which ad to serve. The auction happens within a few hundred milliseconds with each vendor placing their bid. Once closed, the publisher takes the highest bid which determines the winning price. Header bidding leads to a more even field, with all demand partners competing at the same level of priority. Letting multiple sources bid on the same inventory at the same time gives vendors the opportunity to make more money. Not only does revenue increase but the auction takes place in a more efficient and natural manner.

The next question to ask is what are the advantages over traditional waterfall ads? The traditional setup quite simply works as a ladder of networks with each partner having a corresponding line with each sitting at a different priority based on past records in terms of yield and fill rate.

Each partner will set a different floor price. If the first in the stack didn’t purchase the space, it will move down in a daisy chain or waterfall movement until it is sold. One of the main disadvantages surrounding this approach is it ultimately hurts both the advertisers and publishers as it offers the view that you are providing low-grade ad space which is being rejected by other partners. Publishers are also not getting the best purchasing price. For example, if an advertiser is willing to pay higher but is a lower priority in the list, it may mean that your inventory is sold at a lower yield.

In the traditional waterfall approach, if after working down the chain your space has not been sold it will return and fall back to an ad server like DFP, where AdSense can fill or the publisher can run in-house ads so space doesn’t go unfilled. Therefore, by implementing header bidding you have premium inventory that is available to all advertisers, meaning the highest bidder wins. Not only does this mean revenue increases, you are also getting a range of adverts from different ad vendors.

What is Snack Media’s offering?

At Snack Media we have taken a unique approach when providing our ad network with header bidding technology. We built on top of existing open source code – prebid.js. Publishers who have implemented header bidding onto their websites have seen a significant rise in revenue, this is ranging from 25% to 150%.

We have worked on our tags and have developed a way which provides for easy application. Not only can individuals attach them to their page themselves, we are able to manage the tags from our end. We have the ability to add new bidders and we can tweak parameters. All of these developments can be done without having to change anything on the publisher’s website, meaning our network clients are never without ads on their page and revenue keeps being generated.

As well as these we also have the ability to roll non-header bidding tags without having to add code to the site itself, this is completed through our loader script. If you are interested in joining our ad network or would like to learn more about our header bidding technology contact James Murphy at or on 07833981427.

Future of Header Bidding

As with all technology, it is developing at a rapid pace, so what does the future look like for header bidding? As previously stated our tags run on open source tech, meaning you can look into the code and see if the bidding is fair and trustworthy, but there has been a significant increase in server-side header bidding. There are both pros and cons to this technology. One of the main questions to ask is whether the emergence of server side is going against the key principles of header bidding which is to run a transparent fair auction where all bidders have equal opportunity to win the ad impression?

Server-side provides for a faster experience and removes any browser compatibility issues. The main disadvantages of this include the loss of transparency, meaning there will have to be a lot more trust in the vendor that runs the auction as you could run an unfair bidding system where you favour certain bidding partners. It also means the vendor who runs the auction has a clear advantage when it comes to functions like cookie matching, etc.

Header Bidding has significantly developed over the past couple of years. In the future with video ads becoming more in demand, there is the potential for the same type of technology to be implemented increasing ad revenue considerably.

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