Leading Operations Online

When the Media Rating Council released its updated mobile viewability specs for review last week, it didn’t hold too many surprises. The main definition of what counts as “viewable”—50% of pixels in view for one second in display, or for two seconds in video—carry over from the interim guidelines the MRC announced in the spring of 2015. And of course, those guidelines carry over from viewability guidelines for desktop.

The new specs don’t deliver everything advertisers and publishers want clarified. The MRC has left the door open to debate whether these guidelines are good while the user is scrolling through a newsfeed. (Some are calling for a half-second rule for newsfeed environments.) The door’s also open to talk about engagement metrics. This new draft does break out guidelines for a) content loaded into an app from the web via a link from b) guidelines for standard mobile web....

More than ever, publishers are feeling pressure to really understand and deliver on their video inventory in mobile. It’s widely held, and upheld by one study after another, that mobile video consumption has risen dramatically in recent years: eMarketer says that through 2015, 105 million U.S. users watched video on their smartphone once per month, and 95% of millennials did so at least once every week. Cisco predicts that by 2020, 75% of mobile data traffic worldwide will be chalked up to video viewing. Industry analysts figure users will be encouraged to watch more video via mobile devices as devices become more powerful and better at rendering video, wifi access becomes more prevalent, and the decreasing cost of data access leads data plans to grow in size. We could go on...

If header bidding offers such a great boost for yield among its most vocal champions, why would a programmatically active publisher have reservations about implementing it? Well, there are a few things. But one of the top concerns making some publishers shy about header bidding is latency. Pre-bid calls are being sent and received before page content even loads, and pre-bid partners may be sending inventory information onto DSPs or other sources to get bids. That’s a lot of variables, which can make for hiccoughs—any delay in this process will likely cause page latency and bring on the user ire.

So what about solutions, ways pubs can troubleshoot on their own? There’s a two-fold response. First, thoroughly test the technology of your header bidding partners before setting them live. Take note on average load times, and be in constant communication with their representatives to ensure all is well. After all, the tech providers are making revenue as well, so it’s in their primary interest for their technology to be working swimmingly. Talk with...

Back in January, I posted “Header Bidding Trial by Fire: How Six Popular Header Bidders Perform.” Sortable ran an experiment to measure what happens when you increase the number of bidders, and how that impacts CPM. We found that there is a strong correlation between increasing bidders and increased average CPM performance -- we saw a 58% increase in CPMs when running six bidders versus none.

I received a number of comments on this post, and the topic of latency came up frequently. Publishers have a vested interest in finding the right balance between revenue and site performance, as latency impacts user experience, Google organic ranking, ad viewability and preferred timing for high-paying direct campaigns. So we looked at the metrics from the original experiment and pulled some new data to see whether header bidders impact latency, and by how much.

Recap: Why Header Bidding?

Publishers have many...

Imagine you’re a brand and you’ve contracted an agency or vendor to run a direct-response display ad campaign. You’ve allowed 30 days post-view and post-click ad attribution, along with allowing pixels (both retargeting and conversion) to be placed throughout your sales funnel. 

After some initial hiccups, everything seems to be going well! Your CPA is consistently going down, your sales are going up, revenue is being tracked and fed back into your CRM system and it looks like you’re spending less money on media than you’re bringing in on sales. So everything’s perfect, and when the agency or vendor wants to double, or even triple the budget, how can you possibly say no?

That being said, a whisper comes from the back of your mind’s eye. You look at your topline sales numbers, and… that’s funny… despite all these new conversions, your sales haven’t dramatically increased. Certainly not as much as you would have thought. But the ads are working, right? The conversions are happening, or at least the agency/vendor says they’re happening...

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