Header bidding as a solution has been a game-changer for publishers and for the ad tech industry. As opposed to the previously used waterfall method, header bidding allows publishers to conduct real-time auctions efficiently.
According to Kevel’s HBIX 2021 tracker, about 65.9% of publishers are using header bidding in the U.S. alone at the present time. Clearly, the advantages of this technology have led to its widespread adoption in the ad tech industry.
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The question now arises, how can publishers, for whom header bidding is something new, identify what kind of services they need? Since the effective implementation of header bidding largely depends on the header bidding partner, we talked to a professional about the same.
To get more insights on this, we collaborated with Abhinav Choudhri, the Director of Ad Operations at AdPushup. He shared some important aspects that need to be considered while choosing a header bidding partner.
Here are some of the factors that we talked about:
Header Bidding Wrappers
“There are some partners who provide wrappers, but some of them don’t. For example, I know that Index, Rubicon, Sovrn, and Pubmatic provide wrappers, but other partners, such as OFT Media don’t include header bidding wrappers in their offerings.”
How Important are Header Bidding Wrappers?
“Wrappers are certainly important for publishers because it is the wrapper that defines how partners are going to be integrated in the entire header bidding setup. So, consider wrapper as a tree and partners as branches- all the header bidding partners are plugged into the wrapper.’
‘For example, AdPushup has its own wrapper and we have configured it in a way that we are able to integrate multiple partners at the same time.’
‘So, if the wrapper configuration is unique and not very customizable, then it might become challenging to integrate other demand partners that have approved a particular website.”
Also, checkout this short video to understand the advantages of Prebid support:
Payment Structure and Reporting & Analytics
“Payment structure could definitely be a deal-breaking or making factor for some publishers. It varies from client to client, as different demand partners have different structures. Some of them may pay net-30 and others may pay net-90. Payment structure is basically a volatile factor and varies from partner to partner.’
‘Likewise, reporting and analytics are also significant considerations, but publishers will find that most of the header bidding partners provide such services on a standard basis.
One thing that publishers need to check regarding payment structure is the discrepancy between what the partner is showing in the panel and how much they actually pay. A lot of times publishers may come across discrepancies between the reporting number and what they are actually paid. The reason could be an invalid activity or some invalid deduction that the partner has done.’
‘But if the deductions are not consistent across different demand partners, then you might want to contemplate why those deductions are happening. The reason being that it could very well be a fraudulent activity.”
This led us to a discussion about ad fraud.
“Other than the payment issue, publishers should also verify demand partners based on their reputation in the industry. A high number of cases concerning ad fraud occur around the lines of the bidding process. For example, say a demand partner bids $1 in the auction for an impression as a partner, and it wins. But after winning it doesn’t pay $1 but less. This will be a case of ad fraud.’
‘So, basically publishers have to be cognizant of which demand partners have such a reputation and if they are blacklisted across the market due to such activities. And there multiple partners to be honest that engage in such kinds of activities and sooner or later get blacklisted. But there are also some who haven’t yet gotten blacklisted.”
Do Demand Partners have Solutions for Avoiding Such Activities?
“Some big demand partners have solutions in place to avoid such instances and malicious ads as well, but again some don’t. For example, I know that Rubicon and AppNexus have implemented some solutions, which is why they face fewer instances of ad fraud or malicious ads. By the end of the day, their reputation is also on the line, and their advertiser pool can also get affected because of bad reputation.”
(Whether or not first-party data is being shared with a third-party by the demand partner)
“While this is something that needs to be evaluated, I am not sure if partners do all this in a normal setup. But it also depends on what kind of data is being shared.’
‘For example, if a demand partner is sending the URL as a parameter to their advertisers, that is fine. But if they are sending any other kind of data, that also needs to be checked to see if data privacy is being violated or not. If a demand partner is recording or sharing data that is not a part of their contract or as per the agreement, that is of course something that needs to be looked into.’
‘But other than this, parameters such as the URL, UTM, geographies, and other such things are part of the auction process.”
“This is something that is a game-changer for some. In some cases, publishers will get some kind of community support, but not dedicated account managers. That makes a lot of difference. But if there is a decent support system and a different level of performance with a demand partner, then I think performance trumps over this kind of support.’
‘And it also depends on what kind of support is required and how frequently. So, if there is a publisher with whom a demand partner is not feeling any kind of challenge, then it will be a set and forget sort of situation.’
‘I think Slack is a great example in this regard. They do not provide a dedicated account manager or some other dedicated resource because they know that there isn’t much requirement for that kind of support from this kind of product. But in case, there is a usual requirement then, of course, technical support as a factor becomes important.’
‘But what we have seen is, an organization like AdPushup will require more technical support because we need things whitelisted every now and then. This is because we are adding more domains everyday. For a particular publisher though, that thing will only be required in case there is a problem or things go south with any kind of integration that they are doing.”
Are there any common problems that publishers face while looking for a header bidding partner?
“This would primarily be the kind of impact a demand partner is having on publisher’s inventory. Basically the tradeoff- what they are adding to the page latency and how much they are contributing to the website’s ad revenue. If the tradeoff is high then of course, publishers need to contemplate whether a certain partner should be kept or not.’
‘If a partner is, lets say, taking more time in completing the auction, then the entire process of ad rendering will be delayed because of that partner. And there is also a timeout that is kept for the auctions. So, say if I am keeping a 1000 milliseconds timeout and a partner is not able to bid in that time frame, then I will have to increase that timeout to, let’s say, 3000 milliseconds. So, because of that one partner my ad would now take more time to render, which will have an overall impact on the revenue and not just from that specific partner.’
‘If publishers are adding multiple demand partners, then they need to see how many requests are being added with each additional demand partner that is being added to the entire setup.”
Do These Factors Depend on Specific Needs of Publishers?
“Definitely, these factors vary according to the needs of publishers. So, if a publisher is looking for a specific metric, then they would need to go for a demand partner that provides that metric.’
‘But if a publisher is able to first contemplate what their inventory is about and if they are aware about the demographics of their site, then the lookout for the demand partner will become more focused.”