Ad Ops Decoder: What Is Prebid.org?

Prebid.org has already been the central URL for the Prebid suite of open-source header bidding products and projects. As of Sept. 11, 2017, Prebid.org is also the name of the neutral industry organization that will offer guidelines and development support for Prebid products.

AppNexus and Rubicon Project have publicly led up the launch of Prebid.org (the organization, that is), and back in 2015 AppNexus developed Prebid.js, the client-side wrapper that initiated the Prebid venture. But Prebid is open-source, independent from any one vendor. According to a release AppNexus and Rubicon issued together earlier this month, 81 demand partners, five analytics vendors and 191 individuals have contributed code to Prebid.

According to its founders, the collaboration and openness behind Prebid is meant to reduce the negative impacts publishers (and users) experience from fragmentation in the market. It’s positioned as an alternative to a scenario where every demand partner is developing and running its own solutions to the same problems. That’s the scenario the industry saw a couple years ago, as header bidding was becoming a common practice rather than a strategy for an enterprising few publishers. A centralized approach can help reduce page latency, improve performance, and maintain user experience, they say. And in theory, it can free up SSPs’ development teams to work on more forward-thinking initiatives.

The Prebid project has proven quite popular, and Prebid.js (header wrapper) has been joined by Prebid Server (for server-to-server header bidding), along with Prebid solutions for mobile, video and native. According to some recent figures, around 32% of publishers who use header wrappers are using Prebid with either their own in-house wrapper or a vendor’s wrapper.

So what does Prebid.org (again, the organization, not the website where you can learn more and get started with the Prebid offerings—sorry if this is confusing) change for publishers? That remains to be seen. Some publishers have lauded this as a breakthrough, and others have dismissed it as not much of a news story. Publishers who have been working with Prebid will see no changes in its functionalities.

The newness is that launching Prebid.org as such asserts its independence from any tech vendor, and it re-states the organization’s mission. Members are to adhere to its code of conduct. That code establishes auction logic to promote transparency, fairness, and objectivity (no preference to any one demand partner), and to preserve UX (by holding firm to timeouts, for example). The code also lays out expectations around when fees should be disclosed, around the information a wrapper can and can’t store, and other trust and transparency issues.

In other words, the September Prebid.org launch is really about the organization, and not just the code. Going forward, we’ll see how the community and technical support provided by the org compares to the utility of the open-source Prebid offerings themselves.

AdMonsters Resources:

Header Bidding Is a Game Changer for Smaller Publishers (2016)

Feed Your Header: Talking Data for Header Optimization with Roxot and Shareably (2017)