Lately the term “Header Bidding” that originated in the programmatic web world has been trending around mobile publishers. Why? It is believed to be a “game changer.” Publishers that are making the shift from the traditional waterfall to header bidding are seeing their results spike by 30-40%.
What is header bidding then? It’s a programmatic advertising technique that allows publishers to offer their ad inventory for multiple demand sources at the same time. It delivers the promise of selling every impression at the highest possible price and bypassing the waterfall inefficiencies that prioritizes one demand source over the other.
Header Bidding has already become commonplace in the desktop world, adopted by 80% of the publishers. However, the term “header” doesn’t really fit in the mobile ecosystem. Some terms like “Open Bidding” and “Advanced Bidding,” are being used, although there has yet to be a consensus of which should be made the official term for mobile publishers, if any.
This past week at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, a panel of experts came together to talk about the subject. Fyber’s VP of Supply for North America, Christy Wong-Taylor, who moderated the panel, pointed out 3 reasons why header bidding will help publishers to make more money:
1) It brings an unprecedented level of transparency, as publishers are able to know what advertisers are willing to pay
2) It offers a real time competition for every single ad impression
3) Broadens brand demand, as it opens the door for more brands to compete
Header Bidding vs. Waterfall
In the traditional Waterfall, a publisher orders the ad networks based on the highest average CPM they are expected to pay. If the network at the top of the waterfall fails to deliver an ad, then the publisher will roll the impression down the waterfall until it is sold. The problem with this technique is that there could be ad networks that are willing to pay more but they don’t see the ad request. So frustrating!
Header Bidding is a fairer and more transparent model that increases the chances to show the right ad, to the right person, at the right time. This technique allows publishers to see all of the available offers simultaneously every time they request an ad. They can then monetize their inventory more efficiently and have a better understanding on how they can deliver more quality to the brands.
Publishers throughout the industry have been calling out waterfall for being broken. More ad networks are offering Header Bidding solutions to mobile publishers claiming this technology brings more transparency to the process and boosts publishers’ ad revenue.
But it doesn’t seem like waterfall will be going away anytime soon. Instead we may see a gradual fade out, or at least some sort of hybrid model between the two methods.
Essentially, the panel focused on one thing; ad tech, like always, is changing and we have to change with it or get left behind.
But what questions should publishers ask when it comes to choosing a solution? The emphasis is on transparency in the marketplace; know what you’re bidding on. Understand who is the right provider for your company. At the end of the day, according to Brian Kealer, Director of Ad Monetization at GLU, “publishers will follow the money.”
Both sides, whether you are a publisher or an advertiser, need to feel confident that your app is being filled with relevant ads and they are being shown where they will have the best chance of being clicked.
Header Bidding solutions should also offer you information on real time bids, historic bidding and a DSP (demand side platform) marketplace.
In the end, we need to take what happened on desktop and expect it to happen on mobile, because it should. Talk about a strong ending, thanks guys!
So, who are some of the companies that offer Header Bidding?
AdMob: Google is sticking with the term “open bidding” for their solution through AdMob. Their goal is to have publishers increase revenue by using less SDKs, simplifying billing and payments, and pulling in real-time CPMs. Publishers like Ilyon are already using the solution.
AppNexus: These guys think waterfall is a thing of the past. A few years ago they came out with Pricecheck, a type of header bidding solution to combat mediation waterfalls.
Facebook Audience Network: Facebook is working with a number of partners to bring their customers an open-source header bidding solution that works for them. They have run tests after working with companies like The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, and found that header bidding increased revenue by 10-30%.
Fyber, AdColony & Tapjoy: The Fyber Group (which consists of the parent company Fyber, as well as HeyZap and Inneractive, which were both acquired by Fyber) has paired up with AdColony and Tapjoy to launch Fairbid. Dare we say dynamic trio?
IronSource: IronSource is not giving its clients a choice between a header bidding solution and a waterfall solution. By going hybrid, they can offer a programmatic mediation service for publishers to manage between SDK and non-SDK demand sources as well as programmatic and static demand sources. The platform launched at the GDC for premium partners.
MoPub: Mopub now has a version of advanced bidding in alpha testing. They believe that mobile cannot replicate the desktop header bidding model, and instead created their own, unique advanced bidding solution.
OpenX: OpenX Bidder focuses on high quality ad exchanges for desktop and mobile. Their goal is to be the leader in header bidding with the largest auction available.
Webedia: In April, Webedia will be launching a header bidding solution that will go across both web and mobile web on all of their group sites. Prior to this change, their inventory was handled through programmatic after sales exchange by mutual agreement.