Header Bidding

Header Bidding Wrappers: Explained

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We’ve covered header bidding, the technology that enables publishers to offer their inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously, many times on this blog before. But we haven’t discussed the header bidding wrappers yet—an essential part of the process. First, let’s recap.

Header bidding allows publishers to increase their ad revenue by creating bid pressure for the ad inventory. Publishers also get better access to ad transactions data, as opposed to many other black box programmatic implementations. Of course, this is all good news. But header bidding is also known to increase page load times and ad latency if not optimally configured.

Speaking about configuration, that’s where header bidding wrappers come in. In this post, we’ll discuss what header bidding wrappers are, how they work, and their pros and cons.

What is a Header Bidding Wrapper?

A header bidding wrapper is a Javascript tag that resides on the publisher’s webpage and makes asynchronous calls to demand partners. A wrapper is essentially used to organize multiple demand partners and set the rules for running the auction.

Using a wrapper ensures that all demand partners have their bid request triggered at the same time. In addition, the wrapper enforces timeout settings, i.e., how long the browser will wait for bidders to respond. In short, wrappers streamline the implementation of header bidding.

Without a wrapper, every time a publisher makes a change to a header tag, the ads person has to manually replace the old header tag with a new one. But if you have a wrapper, that provides with you with a portal where you place that code in one time, make sure it works, and then you can work in a separate interface to change code so that you are not messing with the actual page anymore.

— Jay Friedman, COO of programmatic company Goodway Group

Basis their function, header bidding wrappers can be client-side, server-side, or a hybrid. And depending on who built it, they can be open-source, paid, self-serve, and managed.

How Do Header Bidding Wrappers Work?

As we’ve explained, wrappers exist to make header bidding implementation easier for publishers. With a wrapper, instead of adding and managing the code for each demand partner individually, a publisher can just add or drop demand partners from the wrapper as needed.

Wrappers can also contain ad tag codes for services such as tracking, analytics, and viewability that are to be run on publisher pages. Though their primary function is generating bid requests, collecting bids, and communicating them to the ad server.

Header bidding wrappers are used to organize multiple demand partners and set the rules for running the auction.

Generally speaking, these are the steps involved in how that process works:

  1. User requests the webpage
  2. Header bidding wrapper triggers bid requests to demand partners
  3. Demand partners respond with their bids
  4. Wrapper sends the collected bids to ad server (such as Google Ad Manager)
  5. Ad server makes its final decision and serves the ad

If you are familiar with tag management software, you can think about wrappers as tag management tools for managing demand sources. While using a wrapper is not mandatory for setting up header bidding, it make easy work of working with multiple demand partners and simplifies communication with the ad server.

Advantages of Header Bidding Wrappers

As vital as header bidding is for revenue optimization, setting it up can be a complicated undertaking, and yes—if not done well, it can increase latency. Header bidding wrappers were created to take care of at least a few of these challenges.

  • Optimal timeouts: Some header bidding demand partners allow you to set timeouts, while others don’t. But if you place every partner’s code into a wrapper, you can set a central timeout that will cut off bids from any partner that too slow to respond. It’s also easier to manage timeouts from one place, with a wrapper, than setting it manually with each demand partner.
  • Asynchronous code: Since wrappers support asynchronous code, all the bid requests are sent to demand partners simultaneously as soon as the webpage is requested by the user. In case of synchronous code, a tag would be fired only after the previous one has finished executing. While the auction is still limited by the slowest partner, there is queueing associated delay.
  • Demand management: Having a wrapper makes it easier to add or remove demand partners. Have a demand partner who consistently slows down the auction? Just drop them from the wrapper. It simplifies work for your ad operations team by giving them a central container to work with instead of having to manage a patchwork of code from multiple demand sources.

Disadvantages of Header Bidding Wrappers

As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to using a wrapper. Advantages that far outweigh its downsides, still, you should be aware of the downsides before you decide to get one.

  • Complex setup: It may take considerable time and effort to understand how the wrapper works, what it supports, and what it doesn’t during the initial setup. So if you’re just testing header bidding or plan to work with only one demand partner, by all means, give it a miss. However, if you’re serious and want to maximize revenue by working with multiple demand partners, setting up a wrapper is a long-term investment that will save you much more time and effort later.
  • Partner stickiness: There are multiple vendors that offer header bidding wrappers now including Prebid, Yieldbot, Index Exchange, OpenX, bRealTime, and Amazon to name a few. Once you sign up and spend the time setting up a vendor’s wrapper, leaving them at any point will mean that you will have to repeat the process all over again with the new vendor—which is something that may make you resistant to changing your wrapper even if you really need to.
  • Demand incompatibility: IAB is yet to define a standard for how wrappers should work, what data they should collect, and what they shouldn’t. This makes demand partners nervous because they have reduced control over the data and need to support third-party technology. Therefore, some demand partners may not allow you to run their code within a wrapper.

What to Look for in a Header Bidding Wrapper?

While selecting a vendor, consider your current situation. Do you have a capable ad ops team that is comfortable with setting up and managing the wrapper? If yes, you should probably opt for an open source vendor with the widest demand partner support.

On the other hand, vendors providing managed wrappers may need less inputs from in terms of setup. They may also provide value-add services such as analytics and support.

AdPushup provides managed header bidding services to web publishers. Some features that differentiate our solution from competitors include:

  • Automatic demand partner selection
  • Smart timeout management
  • Integration of native demand
  • The ability to add your own demand partners
  • Bid monitoring and discrepancy resolution
  • Multi-ad size support

Sign up for a free demo and 30-minute consultation if you’re interested.

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