I’m guessing this isn’t the first article or panel you’ve seen with the words “header bidding” in the title. That’s because “header bidding” is the new “programmatic tv” and this year’s ad tech buzzword. Although it’s been a hot, wildly covered topic in 2017, there still seems to be a lack of clarity around what it is, specifically for video, and what it allows media owners to achieve. So let’s dive a little deeper.
What is header bidding?
To understand how it works, it is key to first understand what a header is. Most web pages contain a header, an HTML element that serves as a container for introductory content. This is the first of several instructions to the browser on how to render the page. This piece of code is invisible to the end user and looks something like this:
<head>everything is stuffed in here</head>
Now that we’ve covered what a header is, here’s our definition of header bidding according to our resident header bidding expert, Senior Director of Product, Kevin Hunt:
Who uses it?
Headers are often used to load introductory content, which is usually what is first to load on the page. That’s why header bidding has historically been primarily used in display advertising. Advertisers want to insert themselves in the header so they have the opportunity to be the first thing to load onto the page. Since access to the code of the site is required, header bidding is most applicable to owned and operated media owners leveraging DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) as their ad server.
What are the benefits?
By inserting multiple programmatic demand sources into the ad server’s waterfall, these demand sources are able to compete on price in real time. This allows media owners to maximize yield with the most valuable ad, regardless of waterfall position. This also forces Google’s AdX to compete with a real-time injected ad. Additionally, header bidding allows for the collection of user and site data resulting in consolidated revenue reporting in DFP.
What are some things you should consider before implementing?
Like most technologies in the ad tech industry, there are pros and cons, and header bidding is no exception. Header bidding is a more complex integration than a traditional tag based integration. A publisher will require additional development work for this implementation. That’s because header bidding will require additional code-on-page, especially with multiple partners and media types.
Here’s how it works
With everything above in mind, here’s a diagram of how the mechanics of it all work.
- Page loads, player loads, the header bidder partner’s (HBP) code loads and fires the opportunity to the HBP’s server.
- HBP sends the opportunity to its demand partners.
- Upon receiving responses, HBP conducts a server side auction, selects a winner and sends the winning ad back to the page.
- HBP code on page modifies the MVT with KVPs that instruct DFP on which line item to trigger
- DFP sends the corresponding line item to the player, which plays the ad. Line items have been pre-entered in DFP by hand, API or script.
Ready to learn more? Check out more of our header bidding resources:
- How Header Bidding Works in Video v. Display
- Server-Side Header Bidding vs. Client-Side Header Bidding
- What is a Header Bidding Wrapper and How Does it Work?
- SpotX Launches New Tools to Integrate Third-Party & Proprietary Header Bidding Solutions
- Compete Demand Holistically with SpotX
- Everything you need to know about video header bidding
Lexie Pike, Product Marketing Associate