What is Header Bidding?

Header bidding is a programmatic technique that allows publishers to offer their inventory to multiple ad exchanges at the same time, before making ad calls to their servers.
This is the opposite of what happens when a publisher sets up a waterfall, which involves a chain of ad networks each being offered the same impression in turn. The problem with waterfalling is that if a bid later in the queue is higher than the accepted one, publishers lose out on revenue and fail to maximize the value of each impression.
Header bidding, on the other hand, is designed to flatten the waterfall hierarchy. The ad call is sent out simultaneously to all bidders in an auction and the highest bidder wins.
This means that publishers can access more demand and increase their fill rates, while buyers can access more inventory and unlock more chances to reach their target audience.

How does Header Bidding technology work?

Header bidding relies on a piece of JavaScript in the publisher’s header tag that enables buyers to bid while the rest of the page content loads.
The process goes like this: when a user visits a web page, the header tag connects the user to multiple ad networks (exchanges, SSPs, DSPs). The ad networks place their bids, and the winning bid is returned to the user, who passes the bid to the publisher’s ad server.
The publisher’s ad server then redirects the user to the advertiser’s server, which returns the final creative. All of this happens within a few fractions of a second.

What are the benefits of Header Bidding for publishers?


Increased choice of demand

Header bidding allows publishers to integrate with multiple demand partners and SSPs more quickly and easily – increasing the range and variety of demand available to them.


Transparency on what was bid

Header bidding provides increased transparency into how much impressions are worth, as publishers can sell their inventory on a per-impression basis. Overall, it allows for more control and more bid transparency for reporting and optimization.


Eliminates ‘passback’

Header bidding eliminates the need for pushing inventory back and forth, which happens in a waterfall when there is no bid and can be ineffective and wasteful.


Better yield management & revenue increase

By letting multiple bidders bid simultaneously on the same inventory, publishers increase their yield and their revenue. Essentially, header bidding allows publishers to sell their inventory to the highest bidder and provides total visibility and control of who won each impression.

What are the benefits of Header Bidding for buyers?


Access to more inventory

Header bidding code enables buyers to see a publisher’s entire inventory, providing a better understanding of their reach. It also allows buyers to access more audiences and gives them a greater chance of delivering their campaigns – as bid requests can be generated for every available impression.


Forecasting avails

This one’s fairly simple – more consistent inventory over time means better and more accurate forecasting for campaigns and media planners.

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