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Chatter about discrepancies can always be made out during a Publisher Forum, but for latest gathering in Austin this August, the talk was louder and more anxious. With good reason, though – some demand-side ad servers are reportedly counting when ads actually render rather than when served.

[UPDATE, 9/13 9:40 AM EDT: Flashtalking has not switched its counting method, but has begun supplying rendered impression metrics (similar to what Google will begin offering in November for the sell side). Flashtalking Chief Product Officer Jos Pamboris also notes that campaigns with viewability components only count rendered impressions, but as we've noted elsewhere, the percentage of such campaigns is pretty low from publisher to publisher.]

[UPDATE, 9/14 3:08 PM EDT: Sizmek said that the claim they had changed their counting method was inaccurate. "We have followed the mobile impression counting methodology as outlined by the IAB since 2014...

Header integrations have made publishers think anew about what role the traditional ad server will have, going forward--if there’ll even be a role for it to play at all. Whatever happens, it seems the dynamic of the ad marketplace is pushing for a substantial change. (Gavin Dunaway published an article last week that goes hard with a lot of questions about how to rethink the third-party ad server in a header-integrated world.)

Jordan Woods, Product Marketer at FullStory, had some additional thoughts about how header bidding will affect ad serving, in the video below. For publishers that have integrated multiple header partners without a wrapper, using an ad server can be “cumbersome” and heavily manual, he said. There’s a demand, as he’s suggested, for an optimization of the ad server as we know it. The ad server we know and… well, maybe not necessarily love, but at least know how to deal with, is in certain ways a relic of an earlier time, a less mature...

As with programmatic display, the earliest inroads into programmatic video were set up to give the buyer the right of way in certain key matters. Private exchanges initially left valuable inventory ripe for cherry-picking by buyers, and prone to devalue greatly if passed back. Meanwhile, video content that by rights should have passed the “premium” test remained undiscovered by buyers wary of the unknown mid-to-long tail.

To get the best value programmatically for their video inventory while encouraging buyers to spend heartily through programmatic video channels, publishers need to take control over their goods. Making more video inventory available programmatically is fine, but without exercising strategy around it, you’re going to leave money on the table. 

The complicated part is that “control” means something slightly...

Is header bidding a hack?

This question invariably gets asked in every panel or interview revolving around header bidding. “Hack” is a term dripping with bile and contempt – it symbolizes a ragged workaround versus some mythical notion of organic development. 

But such development rarely occurs in the digital advertising space – its sordid history is filled with hacks, whether it was hard-coding display ads or the early days of real-time bidding (i.e., pre-OpenRTB). 

In both of those cases, the hack was merely a bridge across the muck into a greener pasture. So the best answer to that oft-repeated question is, “Yes, but a lot of great developments in advertising technology have been hacks that lead to better systems.” Header bidding is actually a great hack, and also an attempt to hijack Google’s walled garden.

Even so, can we picture the...

Viva la header revolution! Header tags have been a blessing for virtually every player in digital advertising. As publishers note a boom in CPMs, advertisers are finally getting better ideas of available inventory and getting smarter about valuation. Header tags have given new life to display and video private exchanges and are paving the way forward for programmatic guaranteed, in which upfront deals are executed through programmatic channels.

Beyond the cheerleading, it seems everyone and their grandmother is introducing a header integration of late. No the market can’t sustain so many demand sources – especially when new ones seem to appear by the day – but consolidation still seems further down the road. More publishers are also embracing the header – with the average pub boasting five or more partners according to a recent AOL survey – so there’s still room for expansion.

But this ain’t Pokemon, so publishers don’t have to integrate them...

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