Key Points

  • Header bidding has quickly evolved from nascent tech to essential tool for digital publishers.
  • Header bidding is one of the most effective ways to increase your revenue.
  • It isn't simple, but with a qualified ad tech partner, it can feel simple.
If you haven't heard of header bidding, you probably haven't been in digital publishing for very long. This programmatic advertising innovation has been around for under a decade, but in that relatively short time, it has transformed countless publishers' revenue for the better.

You've probably heard of it, but you may not quite understand it. That's about to change. In this post, the Playwire team is going to walk you through the essential header bidding basics, as well as the answers to some common questions on the topic. Read on.

Here's the tl;dr: If you want to do header bidding the right way and grow your revenue without all the headaches, contact Playwire. We'll set it up, manage it and take it higher and higher. Contact us to get started.

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The Complete Header Bidding Resource Center

Header Bidding Resource Center

Header Bidding Defined

What is Header Bidding?

Header bidding is a programmatic ad technique that turns the traditional waterfall auction process on its head. Instead of waiting for their turn to bid, each bidder gets to submit a bid for your ad inventory at the same time. With a header bidding auction, the highest bidder wins - not the first bidder.




Header Bidding FAQs

With the definition of header bidding out of the way, let's jump into some of the most frequently asked questions about header bidding, as well as answers straight from the Playwire team.

What is the main benefit of header bidding for publishers?

The primary benefit of header bidding is increased CPMs. Header bidding increases CPMs by revolutionizing the programmatic auction process so that the best/highest bid request is selected, rather than the first bid that meets all of your parameters.

The result? Some publishers have reported increases in CPMs of more than 50% for premium inventory.

How is header bidding different from programmatic advertising?

Header bidding is a way to do programmatic advertising, so they're certainly not the same thing, but they're closely related. This question is sort of like asking how Ferraris are different from cars. They are cars, but they're a particular - and particularly valuable - type.

What is a header bidding wrapper?

A header bidding wrapper is a piece of code that sits in the header of your site. It's like a bucket that contains all of the information necessary for your site to run header bidding auctions. That means it contains your auction rules, such as price floors, as well as your list of header bidding demand partners.

When a user visits your website, your header bidding wrapper triggers the auction that will result in an ad being placed in front of the user as they load the page. You sometimes see header bidding wrappers referred to as containers or frameworks, but they are all the same thing.

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The Complete Guide to Header Bidding

The Complete Guide to Header Bidding

What are the most common header bidding platforms?

There are several header bidding platforms, but the most commonly used are as follows:

  • Google's Exchange Bidding and Open Bidding
  • Amazon's Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM) and Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM)
  • Prebid Server

Keep in mind that it is not necessary to pick one of these over the others in the ad space. The best header bidding strategies incorporate demand from all of the biggest platforms to ensure you have the broadest possible demand for your inventory and, therefore, the highest possible CPMs.

What is the difference between client-side and server-side header bidding?

In header bidding, the terms "client-side" and "server-side" refer to where the programmatic auction takes place within the ad space. If the auction is taking place directly in the header of your website, you're doing client-side header bidding. If it takes place on an off-site server, you're doing server-side header bidding.

Client-side header bidding came first, and server-side header bidding was meant to address some of the issues with latency that client-side auctions can cause. Most new header bidding platforms do server-side header bidding.

Can I do header bidding for video? 

The answer is yes. You can do video header bidding and in-app header bidding.



Video header bidding is somewhat newer than display header bidding, but it works in pretty much the same way and provides the same benefits (namely, higher video CPMs). The key difference is that with video header bidding, your header bidding wrapper code is embedded in your video player rather than your header.

What is in-app header bidding?

For app publishers, in-app header bidding is similar. It does pretty much the same thing as header bidding for display, but where it truly differs is how and where you implement the code that triggers all your header bidding auctions. For apps, you have to implement a software development kit (SDK) that incorporates one or more of the header bidders you have selected.

The Answer to Your Header Bidding Needs: Playwire

It's normal to have questions about header bidding. Ultimately, though, getting all the answers to those questions and understanding the definition of header bidding backward and forward will only get you so far. If you want to do header bidding and do it right - the way that will actually increase your ad revenue - you need a trusted and experienced revenue partner on your side.

In other words, you need Playwire as your ad tech partner. For more than 15 years, Playwire has been helping publishers maximize their ad revenue, and we can help you, too, whether that involves header bidding, direct sales or any other revenue-boosting effort.

Ready to get started? Reach out to our team online today.

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