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Header bidding — love it or hate it, it’s a reality today. Some media owners favor header bidding because it opens up their inventory to additional demand sources and overcomes traditional ad server waterfalls. Others, find it to be a clunky solution that creates operational inefficiencies.

With a plethora of opinions on the topic and a variety of available solutions, it can be hard as a media owner to determine what you should do as it relates to header bidding. Today, we’ll walk you through when you should leverage parallel ad decisioning to call all your demand sources simultaneously and when it makes sense to implement header bidding.

When Parallel Ad Decisioning Makes Sense

Most media owners turn to header bidding to increase competition, drive up CPMs and maximize yield, while circumventing ad server waterfalls. If this is your primary goal, header bidding is unnecessary as long as you use an ad server with a holistic auction. At SpotX, this functionality is built in. Using SpotX as your primary ad server, you can compete all of your demand sources simultaneously, including both direct sold and programmatic campaigns. By plugging all of your demand sources directly into SpotX, we’ll automatically use our parallel ad decisioning technology to conduct a unified auction that inherently maximizes yield while limiting latency.

When Header Bidding Makes Sense

You still want to increase competition, drive up CPMs and maximize yield, but you have contractual obligations or technological limitations in place. This is when the implementation of header bidding is necessary to avoid ad server waterfalls. If you do decide header bidding is the right option for you, executing server-to-server bidding is the most efficient and effective option for competing demand sources simultaneously in video.

Media owners using SpotX as their primary ad server can implement third-party header bidders with the SpotX Header Bidding Wrapper. The results of third-party bidders’ auctions will be submitted to SpotX’s advanced ad server, which will execute a final holistic auction. By integrating third-party header bidders server side into SpotX’s programmatic infrastructure, media owners will be able to manage demand partner latency, set price floors, allocate priority tiers to campaigns, access integrated analysis and reporting tools, and honor all campaign contracts. However, we understand that you may have third-party header bidders you want to leverage that won’t allow you to integrate them directly into SpotX. If that’s the case, we’ve still got a solution for you.

Pros and Cons of Header Bidding

From a bidding economics standpoint, having more header bidding partners is beneficial as it will lead to more bids, driving bid values higher due to the increased competition. However, every additional header bidding partner you provide on-client access to poses an increased risk of increased latency and potential data leakage.

As we’ve seen, buyers have increasingly expressed an interest in leveraging their powerful data position to buy differently. Using their asymmetrical trove of data, sophisticated buyers can almost seamlessly track users across the web, buying impressions for those users wherever they are the cheapest, devaluing a media owner’s inventory. Media owners need to be smart about the header bidding partners they add, making sure they are trusted sources and that the value of the demand they bring makes the data leakage risk worth it.

As a holistic, modern ad serving platform, SpotX has options. Below, we’ve detailed the processes involved with using SpotX as your primary ad server with and without the SpotX Header Bidding Wrapper in use. So take a look and decide which solution is best for you.


If you’re interested in learning more about using SpotX as your primary ad server or our header bidding wrapper, reach out to us. For even more information on the topic of header bidding, check out our header bidding page and the rest of our blog series:


Insights from:

Lexie Pike, Product Marketing Coordinator



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