Header bidding has been a revenue game-changer for countless web publishers. It’s fostering sustained growth throughout the digital publishing landscape. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
As much as there’s a right way to do header bidding, there’s a wrong way, too. And lots of publishers are doing it the wrong way, reducing or even eliminating the revenue-boosting benefits of this ad sales method.
Playwire is here to help you do it right. The first step is keeping these header bidding best practices in mind.
Keep Latency in Mind
If you are doing pure client-side header bidding implementation, latency should be at the forefront of your concerns. That’s because slow content and ad load times are a serious and common issue in client-side header bidding.
How do you reduce latency? By making sure you limit the number of bid adapters — the pieces of code that call individual bidders — in your wrapper. Generally, you will start to see latency become an issue on your site after around seven bid adapters.
It seems simple — just keep your total number of bidders below seven, and you’re golden. But what if you want more demand than that? What if you have 30 bidders you want to work with? You shouldn’t have to tell 23 of them to hit the road just because you’re worried about latency. Fortunately, you don’t have to.
There are two key ways to mitigate this issue. The first is opting for a server-side header bidding solution. A dedicated server can handle a lot more bidders at once than your site alone can. The second solution is working with a header bidding management partner like Playwire. Header bidding professionals can tweak your setup to ensure latency is a distant memory and you are able to work with as many bidders as you want.
Get the Setup Right from the Start
Header bidding gets you access to more demand. It shouldn’t be creating a bunch of confusion and stress in the process, though. But this is what happens when you don’t properly configure header bidding on your site or app.
When you’re first diving in, it’s normal to be excited to get the code on your site and see what it does for your revenue. If that comes at the expense of testing and making sure you’ve got every line of code exactly right, however, you’re going to run into trouble later on. The complex and delicate header bidding process will break, and you will miss revenue, fail to deliver the impressions you’re promising and waste a lot of time trying to fix the issue you could have avoided in the first place.
At the very beginning of the process, think about your end goals, resources, capabilities, available time and revenue. How does header bidding — and the taxing implementation process — fit into that framework? If you’re flying by the seat of your pants and figuring out the setup as you go, be prepared to do a lot of troubleshooting. Alternatively, consider working with a professional team to get it set up right the first time.
Manage Your Bid Adapters Wisely
Over time, you will want to add and remove bidders in your header bidding portfolio. Each bid adapter you add to or remove from your header bidding wrapper is a chunk of code that connects your wrapper to SSP servers. To manage your header bidding setup well, you will need to fully understand each part of that code to be certain it won’t break any other part of the process. That means testing it thoroughly before bringing it to your live site.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of resources like Playwire’s header bidding setup. Our platform has already done the legwork of vetting, integrating and testing an enormous number of bidders.
Make Sure You’re Speaking the Right (Coding) Languages
It’s a frustrating fact of life that header bidding is code-heavy. It’s all about the code in your header or video player and how it interacts with the various servers and bidders along the ad production line. And sometimes, the code used on the client side and server side will be in completely different languages.
If you’ve ever visited a country where you didn’t speak the language, you’re aware of the trouble this can cause. Your site and the server need to be able to communicate clearly. If they’re speaking different languages, they need a translator. In the header bidding world, an expert developer is that translator. Even if you’re confident that you or someone on your team will be able to work on your site, you may need different development resources to get the job done on the other end of the process.
Set Your Price Floors Properly
If you’re at all familiar with programmatic advertising, you’re familiar with the concept of price floors. A price floor is just a baseline CPM rate that you aren’t willing to go under. That means none of your ad partners can serve ads on your site that are below this rate.
Price floors are a big deal in header bidding. Without the proper price floor setup, you immediately enter a race to the bottom for the cheapest CPMs. So, be sure you have configured your price floors in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Keep in mind, too, that the price floors for video and display are likely to be different, and without setting them up individually, you risk the two types of inventory starting to cannibalize themselves.
The bidders who participate in your auctions are likely to have tools that help them understand historical pricing and their expected auction win rate based on demand, their CPMs and even factors as minute as the time of day. This is the type of battle that you don’t want to come to unarmed, so take some time to review the available tools that can help you understand historical pricing for inventory like yours. Playwire’s Revenue Intelligence tools are a great example.