Header Bidding

Gavin Dunaway Talks Header Bidding

sovrnmarketing // April 1, 2017

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We recently hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) event in Sovrn Community with Gavin Dunaway, Editorial Director at AdMonsters. It was an amazing Q&A session with community members on a wide range of topics. Of the many topics covered, header bidding was by far the most popular. So, we’ve compiled a list of all the header bidding questions and answers. Enjoy!

What is the best advice for small scale publishers to get most out of CPM? Increasing fills/CPM rates?

GD: My first thought is to investigate header bidding if you haven’t already. By enabling your demand sources to see all of your inventory (and associated data), advertisers will be able to better evaluate the CPMs they are willing to pay. (You can use this data on the direct sales side too.) If you don’t have a lot of support staff to manage a boatload header bidding partners, investigate wrappers, particularly those with more managed services. If you’re concerned about latency, check out some of the header-based server-to-server connections rolling out.

Beyond that, take a deep dive into your reporting—tools like STAQ and Ad-Juster can be handy or look into a consultant. Re-prioritize demand sources based on bid rate and amount. Experiment—change things up for a week, give higher priority to one or two demand partners and see if they perform.

Is header bidding only useful for publishers using DFP?

GD: Oh no! Header integrations are useful with every ad server. It’s just that other ad servers may enable server-to-server connections within the ad server, which would cut down on latency and take weight off the browser.

How would you determine the floor price for a header bidding ad unit?

GD: I think very much the same way you would in the ad server. The header should give you some room to experiment—bump up your floor and see what it does to bid rate. Also pay careful attention to prices coming in adjust (hopefully upward) accordingly. It’s best to think of the header as an extension of your demand partner’s spot in the ad server—you’ve just got a lot more flexibility.

What role do you think video will play in header bidding? A detractor? A growth vector?

GD: Index Exchange and a few others have implemented header bidding for video—it’s an interesting setup, not very intuitive, but it seems to be working. I see header bidding in video working the same as in display—allowing other demand sources to correctly evaluate video in real time. I hope it boosts programmatic video selling (it could be a real boon for private marketplaces and real-time guaranteed) and inserts better inventory into the programmatic marketplaces. Yep, the open video marketplace is rife with bots and other bad news.
I imagine header bidding could be a great help to small providers of video content really trying to prove the value of their inventory.

A trend for this year seems to be moving header auction frameworks server side. While the performance and other benefits seem straightforward enough, does this move signal the end of client-side code entirely? Is there still value in having code on page?

GD: No, I don’t think so. A header-based server-to-server connection pretty much moves the auction from the browser to the tech provider’s server. You’ll still have code on the site, just the hard labor won’t be going on there. Because header partners only trust each other so much, most will want to set up their own S2S connections rather than work in the wrapper environment like header bidding. Also, thanks to single-request bid architecture, “traditional” header bidding is speeding up and using a lot less browser power. Some partners will find this the better way to operate.

Community Member: We are actually testing it out right now and are excited about the opportunity. From what I’ve read on server-to-server, there are a few drawbacks. One drawback we’ve started to see and read is that when you participate in serve-to-server bidding you the publisher, ad network, etc. loose control of the data and the full ability to see bid landscapes and adjust to improve ad bid performance. By doing server-to-server you also have to trust the numbers the servers tell you are real with no current accountability for commissions taken or impression priority given.

GD: I’ve heard that. Also from my friend Ben Kneen, AKA Ad Ops Insider:
Server-to-server “should improve latency concerns, but it may have a greater detrimental impact on yield than most expect due to worse cookie matching. “What’s your match rate” is going to be the 2017 version of “What’s your recommended timeout” for pubs looking at header bidding tech I think and they’ll have to weigh improved speed over decreased yield.

Thanks again to Gavin for joining us for the AMA! If you’re interested in the other topics that were covered, you can find them in the Sovrn Community.

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