Header Bidding, Programmatic’s Flavor Du Jour

February 15, 2016 — by Amarita Bansal    

This article originally appears on MediaPost.

In the programmatic media universe, you can’t start a conversation these days without bumping into header bidding or ad blocking. Of the two, ad blocking seems to be the easier topic to discuss.

Almost everyone has an opinion on ad blocking from a personal and professional perspective. But header bidding? Not so much. The conversation invariably leads down a rabbit hole of waterfalls (definitely not the kind you discover in beautiful places), “primary growth drivers,” “monetization,” “pre-bidding” and more.

OK, here’s a working definition of header bidding. Please feel free to weigh in and tell me I’ve got it all wrong.

Header bidding, as I understand it, is basically advance bidding or “pre-bidding” on advertising inventory. It uses a programmatic process in which publishers offer up ad inventory to multiple ad exchanges at the same time, before making calls to their ad servers. The idea is that by permitting several demand sources to bid on the same inventory at the same time, publishers can significantly boost their yield and make more money.

Here’s how Sam Cox, VP of global partnerships at MediaMath — and a very smart guy — explains it:

The header gives you the ability to see 100% of publisher’s audience. With most exchange-based bidding, you only get exposure to a fraction of the publisher’s inventory.

“If someone has a header tag in place, [a little piece of code], I can see every user against every placement,” Cox said.  “The publisher is the client of the SSP. When it places the header down, every user and every placement generates an exchange call. Normally the exchange doesn’t get called until the ad servers run through all the guaranteed campaigns. The DSP only sees what wasn’t consumed.”

Read the rest of the article here.