Aug 2 2016
Basis Technologies

What is Header Bidding & Why Should You Care?


Header bidding is the talk “du jour” in the world of ad tech, but many still don’t have a good sense for why it exists or what it is intended to accomplish.

So, let’s clear it up: What is header bidding?

Header bidding enables advertisers to compete for publishers’ reserved and unreserved inventory via an auction that takes place outside of the ad server.

Traditionally, publishers have managed their ad prioritization via their ad server, most often Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP). Through this method – often known as a waterfall – when a web page is loading and the ad slot is up for sale, the ad server plugs into advertising partners to sell the impression.

In this waterfall, advertisers requiring guarantees on placement and timing are booked as reserved impressions in the ad server and receive priority delivery over unreserved impressions. One thing to note: Driving publisher yield is not a consideration for reserved impressions; meeting IO impression goals is the primary focus of the ad server.

For unreserved impressions, other factors such as yield, CPMs and fill rates are considered for delivery prioritization. If the preferred partners’ campaigns are on schedule to deliver, then the unreserved impressions have a chance to compete.

With the growth in programmatic over the past several years, the number of sell-side platforms (SSPs) and exchanges exploded, but they were still relegated to compete for unreserved impressions only. Publishers wanted to change this, and wanted to give all demand partners the ability to compete for reserved impressions as long as two conditions were met:

  1. Publishers’ reserved inventory was on or ahead of schedule to deliver.
  2. The demand partner could win the impression if yield from that demand partner was higher than what they would receive by serving another reserved impression.

The solution: Header bidding.

By definition, header bidding is when publishers place a piece of code into their page headers to allow preferred demand sources to submit bids at the same time an ad server is considering the ads that were bought directly.

But with a lot of code running in the background, page load times can be greatly affected. To accomplish the same function – and limit the issue of slow page loads – many are beginning to consider server-to-server options.

The Centro Brand Exchange, our invite-only ad marketplace, is entering this space and is now available as a header bidding demand partner. Publishers can integrate our demand sources via their preferred wrapper solutions (a wrapper is the software used to manage the header bidder partners). Our goal as a header bidding partner is to be agnostic to whatever the preferred publisher solution is.

Adding Centro Brand Exchange as a header bidding partner means access to brand-safe advertisers who may be willing to pay higher CPMs. This is another way Centro drives high-quality advertisers to publishers.

To learn even more about Centro Brand Exchange or get started, click here.