If the future of digital advertising revenue is a wave you’re trying to catch, header bidding is your surfboard. It’s the perfect ad tech innovation to increase your revenue right now, and thousands of publishers have already taken their revenue from tepid to tubular with this simple change in their strategies.

Plenty of entrepreneurial ad tech folks have seen the potential in header bidding software and created their own demand platforms to attract publishers and take in a share of the ad revenue pie that’s promising to just keep getting bigger. That means two things for you: you have options when you go to select a header bidding demand partner, and you have to find a way to choose between them.

Playwire can help with that. We’re deeply entrenched in header bidding and all the bells and whistles that come with it, so we know a thing or two about the best header bidding platforms and header bidding networks. Read on to hear our take on the top header bidding wrappers for 2022.

Header bidding is great, but it takes a little doing and a lot of technical know-how to set up and run properly. You can go the DIY route, but there’s always the simpler, more effective option: Playwire's RAMP Platform. The platform includes header bidding to get you the highest bid on each ad impression, not to mention a ton of other revenue-driving tech, so you can focus on creating great content. Contact us.

-- Article Continues Below --

The Complete Guide to Header Bidding

Read the Complete Guide to Header Bidding.

Definition: Header Bidding Demand Partner

What is a header bidding network?

A header bidding demand partner is a source of demand for your ad inventory. These are the networks you program your header bidding wrapper to send calls to when a user visits your app or website. These partners then call up their internal demand to bid in the auction for your inventory.

Most publishers know that having broad demand for your inventory is a good thing for your yield. It’s a relatively simple concept: more competition leads to better financial outcomes for the supplier (read: you, the publisher). 

This is a big metric on which to measure header bidding demand partners - do they give you access to a ton of demand? If they don’t, they are unlikely to be worthwhile. If you’re left confused about how to choose the best header bidder, it’s a little simpler than you may think: you don’t have to choose one - you can choose several and include them all in your auctions.

Most Popular Header Bidding Networks

Dozens and dozens of ad tech companies have tried to capitalize on the innovation that is header bidding, and many have done so successfully by providing a quality product that truly helps publishers grow their revenue. Below, we discuss the nine most popular header bidding wrappers, as reported in research published in 2021.

1. Amazon

Around 71% of all websites participating in header bidding include Amazon in their list of demand sources, and there’s a good reason for that. Amazon has nothing short of world dominance in a wide variety of industries - digital advertising included. That means they have plenty of demand across their ad network for any publisher to access.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Earnings from all buyers combined and paid to publishers within 60 days
  • Simple server-side bidding integration
  • Leverage massive amount of first-party data from Amazon customers

Reviews

It seems that Amazon is somehow so ubiquitous in the header bidding wrapper space that it hasn’t made its way onto popular reviews sites like G2 or Capterra, but user testimonials sourced from social media sites tend to focus less on usability or features and more on demand: You won’t get the fullest demand possible if Amazon isn’t somewhere in your header bidding mix.

2. Xandr

Although you might not have heard of it, the vast majority of publishers who are doing header bidding have. Xandr came in at a close second to Amazon, with 69% of websites using header bidding networks using the platform. Xandr uses Prebid’s header bidding framework to bring a wide variety of header bidding-related services to publishers on top of access to huge inventory demand. 

Publisher Benefits:

  • AI-powered forecasting analytics
  • Entire division devoted to over-the-top (OTT) header bidding
  • Custom-built and integrated ad server

Reviews

Xandr had no reviews on Capterra as of the time of publication, but on G2, the reviews were somewhat positive, giving the tool a 3.7 out of 5 stars. Many reviewers said the tool is user-friendly and comes with solid customer service, but others complained about delayed creative approvals gumming up the programmatic works.

-- Article Continues Below --

New call-to-action

3. Index Exchange

Sixty-two percent of publishers doing header bidding include Index Exchange in their deck of demand partners. With a focus on new ad tech developments and access to premium global demand, Index Exchange is certainly a contender for any publisher looking to increase their revenue with header bidding.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Internal focus on ad exchange quality
  • Consolidates, display, video, OTT and mobile monetization in one tool
  • Maintains demand relationships with leading global agencies

Reviews

Index Exchange hadn’t made the rounds on any of the popular reviews sites, including G2, Capterra, TrustPilot and TrustRadius, as of publication time, so take from that what you will. Still, we know that the majority of publishers doing header bidding use Index Exchange as one of their header bidding networks, so it can’t be too bad.

4. Magnite

Telaria, the Rubicon Project and SpotX merged their wide access to advertiser demand to create Magnite, a header bidding demand partner that takes a “header bidding software made easy” approach to its marketing. By all accounts, the approach is working - 53% of publishers use Magnite in their header bidding strategies.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Real-time performance dashboard
  • Run by co-founders of Prebid.org
  • Extensive private marketplaces for premium deals

Reviews

With a 3.2 out of 5 stars on G2, Magnite appeared to be winning most of its publishers’ hearts but not all of them. Positive reviews discussed robust reporting and a user-friendly interface. But negative reviews mentioned issues like slow loading and low fill rates.

5. PubMatic

PubMatic has built an enterprise header bidding wrapper on top of Prebid.js, and it’s attractive to a lot of publishers who are doing header bidding - 48% to be exact. Broad demand drives the attraction to this header bidding network, but the wrapper they’ve built comes with some additional handy features, such as A/B testing, in-depth analytics and a baked-in identity management tool.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Built-in A/B testing functionality
  • Broad private marketplace offerings
  • In-depth ad quality tools

Reviews

For being such a popular header bidding software, PubMatic hasn’t amassed many online reviews. The tool had no reviews on Capterra and just a handful on G2, with an average of 3.2 out of 5 stars. Most of the negative assessments of PubMatic centered on customer service issues, and the positives were often about time-saving features like workflow automation.

6. OpenX

Procter & Gamble, LinkedIn, HP and GM are among the buyers OpenX has worked with, which suggests that the demand this header bidder can get you access to is not only broad, but premium. That’s likely a big part of the reason why 43% of publishers who do header bidding work with OpenX.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Direct outreach to buyers to create publisher inventory packages
  • Features ID resolution product OpenAudience
  • Works with more than 100,000 advertisers

Reviews

Capterra featured no reviews of OpenX, and G2 had just a handful that averaged out to 3.1 out of 5 stars. The positive reviews highlighted strong reporting capabilities and the tool’s willingness to work with publishers of any size. The negative reviews highlighted scale limitations with video inventory and bugs in the software.

7. TripleLift

With 32% of publishers trusting them with their header bidding demand, TripleLift boasts a broad network of publishers and an equally broad network of buyers. TripleLift does programmatic advertising across a variety of channels and formats, but it maintains a special focus on native advertising.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Extra focus on creative design and delivery to create premium advertiser experiences
  • Works with 100% of the AdAge 100
  • Partners with leading ad fraud prevention tools

Reviews

With 4.2 out of 5 stars on G2, TripleLift enjoys relatively broad support from the publishers who use it. Happy publishers mentioned the fact that TripleLift focuses on native advertising, and the unhappy ones said the tool’s targeting capabilities left something to be desired.

8. Criteo

If you have premium inventory to sell, you may want to consider Criteo. That’s because this header bidder software offers a direct publisher-to-advertiser connection for premium buys. The platform says it works with more than 22,000 retailers and brands, and it works with a similarly impressive 31% of publishers who take advantage of header bidding.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Works with more than 22,000 brands across the world
  • Direct Bidder product reduces third-party fees
  • Handles more than 120 billion ad requests per day

Reviews

Criteo had 4 stars on G2 and 4.2 on Capterra, making it one of the better-reviewed header bidding networks on this list. Consistent high points included customer service and usability, while the low points tended to focus on problems with reporting.

9. Sovrn

As a header bidding demand partner, Sovrn can accommodate the plug-and-play needs of publishers who aren’t fully ad tech-literate, but it also leaves room for more complex custom and open-source marketplace connections. All publishers fall somewhere on that spectrum, and 27% of those doing header bidding include Sovrn in their header bidding wrappers.

Publisher Benefits:

  • Simple implementation for server-to-server bidding
  • Early partner with Google’s Open Bidding
  • Platinum certified with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)

Reviews

With no reviews on Capterra and 3.7 out of 5 stars on G2, Sovrn is something of a mixed bag when it comes to publisher satisfaction. Most of the satisfied publishers mentioned how easy the tool is to implement and manage, but others talked about slow load times and slow-to-respond customer support.

More Information About Header Bidding

Want to learn more about how header bidding works? We have plenty of content to help you learn more about the technical details:

Want the Best in Header Bidding? Contact Playwire

Those are the most promising header bidding demand platforms for the coming year. They all have some unique advantages, but they also have something in common: they require you to go in and manage your header bidding if you go DIY. That’s just not in the cards for many busy publishers.

The good news is that there’s another option. You can get all the benefits of header bidding - and direct sales, yield optimization, competition between multiple ad exchanges and SSPs, made-for-you video content, a video header bidding solution, and a bunch more - with Playwire. We’ll pick the best header bidding demand partners for your unique needs and handle everything from setup to campaign management.

Learn more about Playwire's approach to header bidding in this article. Header bidding through RAMP gives you access to: Google AdX (ad exchange), Google's Exchange Bidding and Open Bidding, Amazon's Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM), and Transparent Ad Marketplace(TAM), and a Prebid Server.

Want to learn more? Reach out and contact us online.

New call-to-action