Header Bidding

Under the Hood: Livingly Media’s Approach to Header Bidding

sovrnmarketing // December 9, 2015

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A Partner-Agnostic Solution

Livingly Media owns and operates four well-known online brands: their flagship lifestyle website, Livingly.com; entertainment news site, Zimbio.com; home decor and design site, Lonny.com; and fashion and beauty site, Stylebistro.com. Combined, these sites generate over 500m pageviews from more than 25M unique visitors each month.

With its size, scale, and growth plans, Livingly Media views programmatic advertising as a key part of its business plans and is quick to adopt any technology that gives it an edge. “To grow the way we want, it’s hard to use manual IOs on the scale we would require,” says Danny Khatib, Co-founder and COO at Livingly Media. “Programmatic advertising gives us what we need in terms of demand and size of advertisers.” Google has been a big partner for Livingly Media, and the publisher makes extensive use of DoubleClick For Publishers (DFP) and its Dynamic Allocation Feature.

However, while Livingly Media saw good lift from Dynamic Allocation, the publisher realized it probably wasn’t yet getting the best overall ad optimization. “While Google could see all our available inventory, other ad partners could only see a random sample of our overall audience, so they weren’t always able to find the audience they wanted,” explains Khatib.

“We wanted to be more agnostic, so that all our partners could see and bid on any impression, and we could transact with the one who offered the most value. This is why we looked at Header Bidding.”

Risk and Reward

Header Bidding, though, was not without risks for Livingly Media. “We value the visitor experience and are very conscious of our site performance. Because of where Header Bidding code sits on your site, it can impact performance. We needed partners who not only had the right type and scale of demand, but could also provide the technology and support we needed for our performance requirements,” says Khatib.

Livingly Media already used Sovrn’s ad tags, but felt there was greater potential in the relationship. “Sovrn has always been very publisher-centric,” states Khatib, “and they demonstrated that again in both their header bidding technology and the way they worked with us. We used Sovrn’s Pre-Auction API, which is very open and adheres to the OpenRTB standard. Because of our performance concerns, we have developed our own framework for Header Bidding. Compared to other partners, who offer more proprietary implementations, Sovrn offered a simple, standard approach that was easier to implement and customize to fit our framework. It was our fastest implementation of header bidding: from initial conversation through to testing, it took less than 72 hours.”

Collaboration and Support

In addition to this, Livingly Media appreciated Sovrn’s approach. “Sovrn was highly collaborative throughout the entire process. From its senior management through to account management and developers, Sovrn was very responsive and this was one of the reasons we were able to get up and optimize our implementation quickly,” enthuses Khatib.

With Sovrn’s Pre-Auction API quickly set up, the media company has seen great results with header bidding. Their Sovrn partnership has grown more than 2X in daily revenue, while discrepancies have lowered to below 5-6%, the 2nd lowest discrepancy in Living Media’s ad stack. “We’re really pleased with our decision to work with Sovrn,” says Khatib. “They helped us realize the benefits of header bidding while minimizing the work involved.”

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