Will Google Ad Manager’s Link-up With Prebid Reinvent the Wheel?

The one phrase that lives rent-free in my head is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Many publishers are feeling this now that Google Ad Manager is bridging the gap with prebid. Will it affect a setup that already exists?

Google’s incorporation of prebid is supposed to make ad ops easier by allowing publishers to manage their header bidding relationships through “yield groups.” This will enable publishers to identify some portion of their inventory for Open Bidders to target, and prebid bidders can now do the same.

Ad servers will no longer need to be filled with line items to heighten header bidding demand. Publishers and programmatic executives over at Bustle, AccuWeather, and Cafe Media are all currently testing out this new feature and seem to be in favor. 

This Google Ad Manager prebid link-up does help to eliminate some discrepancies.

“Currently, prebid rounds all the prices before submitting them to GAM, but in the new setup, GAM is reading the price from prebid before prebid has done any rounding,” said Patrick McCann, SVP of Research at CafeMedia and Chair Prebid.js. “You won’t see the rounding errors. You end up with a better auction outcome when people are bidding closely to each other thanks to the rounding effect in prebid.”

Will This Interrupt Pre Existing Header Bidding Set Ups?

It’s looking like it just might. Yesterday on LinkedIn, we saw ad tech vendors questioning CafeMedia’s CSO, Paul Bannister, after he posted about the “bridge to prebid.” 

“There is an existing setup with the orders and line items which publishers are efficiently running and is a proven model,” said Dikshant Joshi, Director of Publisher Development at AdPushup. “While this seems to be a promising tool introduced by Google, there is no proof the performance would be at par or better or less. Google mentions the setup of yield groups (an additional and different setup). Still, the experts in the industry would want to benchmark the performance of the header bidding yield groups before they make a complete move or stick with what they currently have.” 

Google also mentions an offering of a “NetworkMinimumBidToWin” metric that publishers can access via Data Transfer Files. Nonetheless, this is a paid feature with recurring costs, so you know what that means; many won’t be able to access it if they do not wish to pay. 

If “NetworkMinimumBidToWin” were a tool to help publishers and the ecosystem, we would have seen this as a part of standard metrics accessible through APIs and the query/reporting tool.

What Is the Future of Google Ad Manager and Header Bidding?

I have asked the Universe tons of times to provide me with a crystal ball, but until then, we will have to ride the wave to see how this pans out. When we spoke to Dikshant, he mentioned that ad tech is an ever-evolving space, and with this promising change, it will be interesting to see “the actual value it brings against the current set up.”

Although many publishers will have to change their ways of using GAM’s services, others can see the benefits.

“The timeline is easy to criticize since header bidding has had such widespread publisher adoption for so long, but this still feels like a step forward,” said Emry Downinghall, SVP Programmatic Revenue, and Strategy at Unwind Media. “Google publicly acknowledges that +90% of publishers use header bidding, and they are working to support that. If this provides mediation transparency and simplifies setup in GAM, publishers win.”