Harmelin Digital Contributor: Jamie Benelli
An emerging hot topic for 2016 is Header Bidding, which is an alternative to the “waterfall” sequence that dictates priority in a publisher’s ad server. It allows publishers to directly solicit an essentially simultaneous auction from all bidders. Publishers are able to better monetize their inventory, and buyers now have access to inventory that would have otherwise been exclusively purchased by direct buys. As MediaMath VP Tanuj Joshi puts it, “It’s a form of privilege, and privilege comes at a price.”
What this means for marketers: As publishers work to have more control over their inventory sales via header bidding – there will be a number of impacts on buyers. First and foremost, bidding rates will increase. This could be due to a number of factors including more competition for the impressions (including direct sold pricing) or higher cost of more premium inventory. Industry experts have observed some rates being unaffected, while others can increase by up to 30%.
Although giving everyone access to the same inventory is inherently more ‘fair,’ it is running into some obstacles. Google (a major stakeholder) claims that it will impact page load times and make user experiences suffer – however early results speak to the contrary. This process also increases the likelihood of bidding against yourself if you are active on multiple exchanges (which necessitates leveraging new tech partnerships to combat)
As the move to header bidding is done on the publisher side, buyers are largely just along for the ride. In future months, the industry will gain more insight into actual impact on the value driven for brands and if the access to better quality inventory will translate to better acquisition metric.