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Ah, header bidding — the lovely programmatic advertising technology that changed up the inventory auction process to get publishers a higher cost per mille (CPM) for almost every impression sold. The concept behind header bidding auctions is so simple and effective that it’s hard to imagine how it took so long for the ad tech world to figure it out.

While the concept is simple, the actual implementation of header bidding technology is anything but. The number of moving parts is staggering, and you almost have to be a master’s level developer to get it all working. The difficult implementation process left an opening in the header bidding market — one that Playwire has filled with our comprehensive revenue amplification platform. 

Playwire’s platform is, among other things, a header bidding solution that requires next to nothing of publishers who want to use it. Still, some publishers choose the DIY header bidding route. If you’re trying to decide between DIY header bidding and header bidding with Playwire, we’re about to make your decision simple for you. In this post, we’ll compare the two approaches so you know exactly what you’re in for no matter which route you choose.

Want to learn more about header bidding? Check out our in-depth header bidding guide for publishers.

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Read our complete guide to Header Bidding for everything you need to know.

DIY Header Bidding

In the early days, header bidding was a hardcore DIYer’s dream. That’s because there was a lot to do, and you had to do it all on your own. That was the dark ages, but since then, there’s been a renaissance in header bidding solutions that publishers can easily implement. 

Playwire’s RAMP Platform is one of those solutions (and we might be biased, but we think it’s the best one). Despite the numerous platform options, it is still possible to do header bidding yourself. Here are the basics of what that will involve:

Finding SSPs

The first step in the DIY header bidding process is tracking down programmatic demand for your ad inventory. You can find that demand by partnering with supply-side platforms (SSPs). There are dozens of SSPs to choose from, and each has access to different levels and types of demand.

You’ll want to work with high-quality SSPs, but keep in mind that this is not like opening your closet and deciding what to wear. The SSPs have to choose you, too. They’ll analyze your content, traffic and various other metrics to decide whether they want to work with you.

Build Your Header Bidding Wrapper

If you’re able to secure enough demand to support header bidding on your site or app, your next step is to build your header bidding wrapper. This is a Javascript tag that houses all the code that manages header bidding on your site. Your wrapper will go in the header of your site, and it will contain code that calls your demand partners for auctions and defines the rules for your auctions. 

If you’re doing client-side header bidding, your wrapper will also be where the auctions for your inventory will take place. Server-side header bidding helps you get around this issue, but then you have to integrate with an off-site header bidding server that will house the auctions.

Some pre-built header bidding wrappers are out there and available for use or purchase, but keep in mind that they won’t be automatically tailored to your preferences and needs.

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Integrate with Your Ad Server

With your wrapper built and placed on your site, you may think you’re done with all the code-level stuff, but you’re not. You still have to integrate your header bidding wrapper with your ad server. This integration will allow ads to actually be served on your site.

How exactly you do this will depend on the ad server you’re using and how you’ve set up your header bidding solution so far, but the basic idea is that you need to enable your wrapper to communicate with the server when a winning bid is selected during an auction. Your server needs to take the winning bid and have it compete with other sources of demand, such as direct sales. Then, it needs to serve the winning ad to the user on your site or app.

Test Your DIY Header Bidding Setup

Before you can go live with your DIY header bidding solution, you will need to test everything. The last thing you want is to go live and have everything go to pieces because some part of your setup isn’t working right. A failure like that creates a bad user experience (UX) and keeps you from bringing in ad revenue. 

To test everything, it’s best to create a staging environment for your site. You’ll want to check for the following:

  • Properly functioning auctions
  • Unbroken communication between wrappers, servers and demand partners
  • Strong, consistent demand from all of your chosen SSPs

Troubleshoot any issues you identify, and keep testing until everything works perfectly. Then, you’re ready to go live.

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Keep Everything Working Properly

The DIY header bidding process doesn’t end once you’ve gone live. Things can still break, and you have to monitor for issues on a daily or even hourly basis if you want your revenue to be consistent. When something goes wrong, you need to be able to get in and fix it quickly.

Playwire Header Bidding

As you can see, DIY header bidding is a lot of work. Playwire’s header bidding solution doesn’t skip any of that work — it just means you aren’t the one who has to do it. We handle nearly everything. Here’s the Playwire setup process:

  • Playwire’s yield ops team gets you approved with all of the best SSPs and exchanges.
  • An account manager digs into your site to make sure UX is perfect and find any opportunities to increase your yield.
  • A solutions engineer makes changes to your site to improve its technical SEO optimization.
  • Our global direct sales team gets ready to bring in big-brand direct deals to supplement your programmatic sales.
  • You add our tags to your site and give us a test page to work with. This sets you up with our complete revenue-increasing platform and usually takes no more than a couple of hours on the publisher’s end.
  • We integrate your site or app with all the demand partners and servers.
  • We test everything and get it working perfectly. 
  • Playwire takes your new revenue machine live.
  • We monitor for performance issues and analyze all incoming data to look for even more revenue opportunities.

As far as header bidding solutions go, it doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Benefits of Using Playwire Instead of a DIY Approach

Automatically Incorporate More Sources of Demand

In a nutshell: increased competition = higher yield. Using Playwire for header bidding gives you immediate access to mountains of competition.

RAMP's header bidding adapter selects the winner from competing bids across the most comprehensive set of demand sources on the market:

  • Google Open Bidding
  • Amazon TAM
  • 9+ Mediation Partners
  • 20+ Unique SSPs

Why spend your time manually incorporating a few sources of demand when you could have access to all of the most trusted, and highest performing, sources of demand on the market with the flip of a switch?

Automatically Incorporate Direct Sales Deals

In addition to our incredible list of traditional programmatic demand sources and app mediation partners, RAMP also pulls in direct sales deals to compete against the highest bids.

Direct sales deals mean access to big brands (and big brand dollars), something traditionally available only to very large publishers. But now, available to you!

Higher CPMs than Header Bidding Alone

Our built-in Revenue Intelligence algorithms adds even more intelligent decision-making on top of our header bidding adapter, further increasing your yield. Revenue Intelligence employs both human intelligence and machine learning to tweak every ad request for improved revenue. Real time predictive algorithms ensure you always receive the highest bids possible.

Access to Ad Ops, Yield Ops, and Dev Teams

You have access to a team of experts, so you don’t have to build one of your own. Playwire’s team of experts ensure that any updates to your set-up happen immediately and seamlessly. Our team is working round the clock to ensure your yield stays right where it should.

Done-for-You Header Bidding with Playwire

Header bidding is a solution for stagnating publisher revenue. But if it’s so difficult to set up that you waste valuable time and resources and leave potential revenue on the table, is it really a solution? We don’t think so, and that’s why we created our own header bidding solution — one that you can set up in no time and without all the headaches and expletives. 

When it comes down to Playwire vs. DIY for header bidding, there’s a clear winner. You can work with the winning side by getting in touch with our team of header bidding experts. Just contact us online!

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