Leading Operations Online

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...

The AdMonsters crew is in force in Austin, TX, for our 39th Publisher Forum. We have a slightly larger group of attendees than we historically have had, the agenda has some longer session (with more group participation) than in the past--so there's a bit of a charge in the air with all the newness.

We'll be live blogging the event while we're here, so you can follow along wherever you are. And here we go...

9:05 am: Rob Beeler has taken the dais to welcome everyone to the biggest PubForum yet (this is the most attendees we've had so far). Quite a few newbies this time as well, as we found out yesterday evening during dinner. High enthusiasm among the n00bz.

9:09: "The competition is the complexity in the marketplace." A selection from Rob's Greatest Hits, or Rob's Evergreen Mantras.

9:24: Gavin Dunaway and Newsy General Manager Blake Sabatinelli are onstate for. Blake explains Newsy's format, on-demand short- and long-form video content. The on-demand economy is transforming video, and traditional media sources are noticing they...

Header bidding is so immensely popular among publishers at this point, there's a call to adapt its core principles to as many environments as possible. Naturally, vendor companies have been hustling to bring products to market to sate publishers’ appetite for demand that header bidding has piqued.

Some of these new implementations push the limits of what we’d normally consider header bidding, per se—server-to-server implementations, header for video, bidding for apps. In the app, there isn’t even a header.

But of course, major industry players wouldn’t let something so trivial as the absence of a page header get in the way of applying the header bidding concept to the booming app space. In-app bidding is a thing now. But at this early stage, there’s no industry consensus about the “right” way to do in-app bidding, and...

The combination of private marketplace deals and a native ad strategy together sounds like a clear winner for publishers. It’s the digital media equivalent of a Scrabble double word score, or dropping the chocolate in the peanut butter, or the falafel burrito on the menu at a little Mexican/Middle Eastern restaurant I know.

Pubs know the value of PMPs and of native—but to layer those two together can take some finesse. These are two niches that publishers often struggle to implement effectively on their own.

But some publishers have led the way, with support from their vendor partners, and over the past year we’ve been able to observe how those vanguard pubs have handled native PMPs. About two months ago, CafeMedia jumped into the fray, with an assist from TripleLift. We called up CafeMedia’s VP of Data Science Patrick McCann, and SVP of Strategy...

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