Do you hear that? It’s the sound of you missing chances to increase your revenue because you’re not doing header bidding yet.

All right — that’s a little gimmicky. But the point stands. Header bidding for publishers is a must-have programmatic advertising innovation. Why? We explore five key reasons below.

From the Experts: “Header bidding is the most effective and efficient way to drive competition for the publisher, creating a 1-to-many approach with minimal integration points to a large mix of demand sources in real-time.”

Andrew Petroka, Sr. Director, Product at Playwire


Ready to learn everything you need to know about header bidding for publishers? Get the Complete Guide to Header Bidding for free.

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The Complete Guide to Header Bidding

Read the Guide and start boosting your revenue with header bidding!

Header Bidding Increases CPMs

This benefit of header bidding for publishers comes first because it’s arguably the most important one. With header bidding, publishers get a higher average cost per mille (CPM) — up to 50% higher in many cases.

How does header bidding increase CPMs? By taking the ability to “wait and see” about inventory prices away from advertisers. That is a result of the central feature of header bidding: unified auctions. Put simply, a unified auction forces advertisers to bid on your inventory simultaneously. 

Compare that to the old way: the “waterfall” method. Under that framework, bids came in one by one, starting with the highest-priority advertiser and ending with the lowest priority. The first bidder in the chain to make an acceptable bid won the impression.

It’s not hard to imagine how that could get publishers less-than-optimal revenue. If a bidder makes an acceptable bid, the auction stops. The other bidders in the chain might have been prepared to bid more, but they will never get the chance. 

With header bidding, however, everyone gets to bid, and they’re blind to the other advertisers’ bid amounts. If they really want an impression, they need to make a competitive bid they believe will be the highest — not just acceptable.

From the experts: "Header bidding has been a natural evolution for publishers to level the playing field and improve the CPM's they receive for their inventory. Header bidding is a way for publishers to offer up their inventory to many buyers in an auction-based and transparent marketplace to create higher CPMs and more revenue. Header bidding is a perfect tool to take the control as a publisher and create an even playing field, and so far it has proven to be a success for the overall ecosystem."

- Leroy Holland, Vice President, Programmatic Direct Sales, Playwire

Exposure to More Advertisers Through Header Bidding

For publishers, header bidding doesn’t just increase CPMs by getting higher bids — it also increases CPMs by getting more bids from more advertisers. That’s because it allows you to auction off your inventory on multiple demand sources.

All of those supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad networks and ad exchanges bring to the table their own advertiser rosters. All you have to do is integrate each network you approve of into your header bidding wrapper, and your demand will increase exponentially. Why rely on a single demand source when you can rely on dozens?

From the experts: "Without header bidding, publishers are simply walking away from their easiest and most valuable source of incremental revenue. Got your ad server? Great. Did it come with some demand sources? Excellent. What's next? It has to be header bidding."

- Nick Branstator, CTO, Playwire

Publishers Get More Control with Header Bidding

Yes, header bidding gives you the ability to get your inventory in front of thousands of advertisers at the same time, but it also gives you the ability to not do that. In other words, header bidding for publishers allows for greater control. 

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Learn how Letterboxd increased revenue by 490% with Playwire

You can pick and choose which bidders you welcome into your header bidding ecosystem. And if one of those bidders is consistently offering low bids and generally not doing much for your revenue, you can un-welcome them. It’s as simple as adding or removing some lines of code (or asking your header bidding partner to do it for you).

From the experts: "Header bidding is important to drive value for advertisers as well as giving value through increased competition to publishers."

- Myles Engler, Vice President of Yield Optimization, Playwire

Header Bidding Diversifies Revenue Sources

If you have any experience with investing, this concept is familiar to you: you need to diversify your portfolio to manage your risk. The same concept applies to your portfolio of revenue sources as a publisher. Relying on only one source of demand is like putting your life’s savings into a single stock. You will live and die by the changes in that demand source. 

If you trust a single SSP to provide all the demand you need to keep your fill rate and CPMs where you need them to be, that may work for a while. But what happens when that SSP makes some changes to how it operates? What if the bigger advertisers jump ship to go to a newer, bigger, better platform? 

The answer to those questions is simple: your revenue will take a dive. But header bidding for publishers prevents that from happening. That’s because you have access to demand from multiple platforms. If one of those platforms falls into disrepair, you just make a change in your wrapper. Your demand stays stable and your revenue stays safe.

From the experts: "In order for a publisher to produce high-quality content and engage their users, maximizing yield across all revenue streams is imperative. And header bidding plays a vital part in this puzzle."

- Nathan Thomas, Senior Vice President, Ad Operations & Platform Solutions, Playwire

Fewer Passbacks and Lost Impressions

The waterfall approach to programmatic advertising created a lot of problems. Among them was the issue of passbacks and lost impressions. Basically, holding a synchronous auction for each bidder took too much time, and sometimes an impression wouldn’t get sold before the system timed out and the page had to load.

It’s hard to think of a better example of a publisher leaving money on the table than the waterfall method. A close second is not having access to enough demand to keep your fill rate high, resulting in multiple passbacks to your ad server until the impression is filled or lost.

Enter header bidding. With a faster unified auction process and immediate access to incomparably broad demand, lost impressions and passbacks are reduced and fill rate and yield are increased. 

From the experts: "Header bidding is the steam that drives the programmatic ecosystem. It is the foundation that keeps this labyrinth of ad calls and clicks alive."

- Jayson Dubin, Founder & CEO, Playwire

What We do at Playwire: Header Bidding for Publishers

At Playwire, a publisher like you is our first priority. Header bidding for publishers is a huge part of what we do because it’s the best way to increase publisher revenue fast.

Understandably, many publishers are wary of header bidding. It sounds like a lot of work, and it’s hard to distinguish from many of the ad tech trends that have poofed out of commission like a lit match in a dark room. We’re here to tell you that header bidding isn’t one of those trends. This is a game-changer, and you need to get in on it.

To help, we have built the top header bidding platform for publishers. By combining the header bidding solutions from Google, Amazon, and Prebid into one seamless platform, we give publishers access to the widest header bidding network around. Want to learn more? Contact us online.

The Complete Header Bidding Resource Center

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