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Header bidding is a key tool for ensuring that publishers get the highest CPMs possible. In fact, U.K. publisher Trinity Mirror has seen a 17% increase across programmatic revenues since using header bidding. And Business Insider U.K. has even reported a 20%-30% increase in yields in some cases.

If you’re a publisher, header bidding is a tool you should be using and if you’re already using it, optimizing. Today, I want to share a few tips with you for maximizing your header bidding strategy.

Tip #1: Work with the ideal number of header bidding partners

This depends on your specific site, but in general, I recommend working with as many as 4-8 bid partners in order to ensure optimal CPM rates. Some industry experts recommend working with even more.

For example, AJ Okereke, the head of revenue technology at Graphiq, advises publishers to work with as many quality bid partners as possible, recommending 10 or even more.

In fact, Okereke comments on his own experience in the industry:

Every publisher is different in size and content type but I’ve learned, anecdotally, of many publishers (that increased their number of bid partners) seeing revenue gains of 30% to more than 50%.

However, I believe in playing it safe. Too many partners could increase site latency and result in poor UX. Julian Childs, managing director of Business Insider U.K. has said:

Integrating multiple partners creates more work, more resource and more latency, so it is worse for the user experience. As ever, publishers will be trying to balance good user experience versus increasing revenue.

To strike the proper balance, again, I recommend working with 4-8 bid partners.

Furthermore, to avoid site latency, ensure efficiency and increase CPM rates, it’s important to not only work with the ideal number of bidders, but to work with the RIGHT bid partners. This brings me to my next tip.

Tip #2: Track your bid partners and drop the bad ones

It’s important to constantly monitor your bid partners and drop the bad ones. Don’t just add a bid partner and wait to see what happens. Instead, I recommend A/B testing especially when you begin working with a new bid partner. By consistently monitoring the data you can decide if the partnership is working out.

Get rid of partners that don’t respond or rarely respond to your bids. Moreover, I recommend only keeping bid partners that are bidding on your inventory frequently and with high bids. If a bidder is frequently winning bids, they are probably worth keeping. Get rid of the ones that aren’t.

Tip #3: Always take site latency into consideration

Header bidding generally has better loading times than waterfalling, however, if you don’t optimize your header bidding strategy, you may see decreased loading times. This could mean a worse user experience on your site and an increased risk of users downloading ad blockers.

The best ways to prevent site latency is by only working with the best partners and dropping bad partners when needed. Moreover, you can help prevent site latency by making an effort to only work with premium brands, which tend to have less issues with latency.

Again, when building a header bidding strategy, it’s crucial that you find the right balance between increasing CPMs and providing a great user experience. If header bidding is causing significant site latency, perhaps you should reevaluate your bid partners and your overall header bidding strategy.

Further, when it comes to site latency, publishers should make sure they are using the right ad formats. Two ad formats I would encourage publishers to consider are content recommendation and In-Image advertising. Both ad formats provide quick loading times and a positive user experience.


Tip #4: Collect data and use it to inform your decisions

It’s crucial to always collect all of the relevant data in a database. In particular, collect data on bidding requests, response times, and track if bidders respond within or not within the timeout. When tracking latency data make sure to differentiate between mobile and desktop.

Olga Levin, Senior Business Development Manager at Imonomy, has implemented header bidding for numerous partners. When it comes to data, she recommends tracking, “discrepancies, response rate, won-rate, and time-out percentage to make sure you’re maximizing your ROI.”

Further, Amit Alon, CEO of Imonomy, offers his advice to publishers using header bidding:

Optimizing and monitoring demand partners is a key factor for success with header bidding. The ability to collect, handle, and optimize bid data to extract the right insights enables us to provide our publishers with the maximum results from their traffic.

An important point I want to reiterate: When it comes to header bidding, don’t take anything for granted. Header bidding is constantly changing and transforming and therefore you need to be constantly monitoring your data, adapting, and optimizing the process.

The future of header bidding

It will be interesting to see how header bidding will affect publishers and influence the industry generally. Jay Stevens, CRO of Adform, sums up the benefits and risks well: “Header bidding is interesting in that it opens up the entire inventory stack to buyers so that every buyer has the opportunity to see every impression from a user session on a particular publisher site.

However, it does create a tremendous amount of additional infrastructure challenges and potential latency issues. It also migrates the ecosystem to a first-price auction as publishers are using this largely as a short-term revenue gain. It’s questionable what the long-term value will be.”

For now, header bidding is a key tool publishers should be using to maximize their revenues. Nevertheless, publishers should be aware that the technology has its weaknesses and perhaps, an uncertain future. As a result, I believe that a strong programmatic strategy should include multiple optimization tools, with header bidding playing a central role among them.

This is a guest contribution by Zev Newman, Content Marketing Specialist at Imonomy, a leading In-Image platform. Zev is passionate about writing, data analysis, and marketing strategy. He can be contacted via email at