Three Major Themes at PubForum Charleston

Three Major Themes at the Conference

Somehow I, Sir Casper of the Pasty People, escaped the South Carolina sun with only the slightest of burns on my ears and neck (yes, my redneck is so bad that I have to hide it with a mullet).

Of course, I did spend the majority of the 36th American edition of the Publisher Forum in (heavily air-conditioned) conference rooms, moderating panels on programmatic and listening to the best and brightest in publisher ops lay out their biggest challenges. While I could probably write a few volumes on all the discourse, here are three issues that garnered a great deal of attention and conversation.

Header bidding. Also kind of nonsensically referred to as tagless tech. Ho boy, lots of talk on this one. Basically, altering a bit of your source code enables SSPs and other partners to look at all your inventory; a series of ascending price tags loaded in the ad server allows these players to offer competing bids against sources with higher priorities. In turn, your revenue grows as your inventory is more accurately priced based on demand.


Yeah, it’s a little confusing; expect many more attempts at explaining header bidding in layman terms across the industry. As convoluted as it sounds, this is a big step towards making holistic yield management viable for all publishers. But the were many at PubForum: How many partners can place their code above the header? What kind of latency issues am I looking at? As you might expect, the answers varied from pub to pub, and they’re changing by the day.

Still, header bidding is the most exciting thing to happen in programmatic advertising for a while, and I look forward to a great deal more discussion. The actual mechanism seems overly complex, which makes me wonder what it’s leading to. And we just happen to be hosting a meetup all about it during Advertising Week NY

HTML5 and the Death of Flash. Sept. 1 has come and gone, and the Internet did not stop working despite Chrome effectively killing Flash ads. I’ve been writing about this for a while; luckily we had The Weather Company’s Will Spann on hand to share a boatload of resources and many insightful tips about working with HTML5.

The first thing to know is that HTML5 file sizes are big – in its specs out for public comment, the IAB is contemplating a 200K limit on initial file load. Even with asynchronous loading, such units are bound to cause latency. In addition, viewability measurements are going to be thrown for a loop as users click to new pages before the ads even load.

The group also discussed how Swiffy is not the most reliable Flash-HTML5 transcription tool, but Google’s revamped Web Designer seems pretty promising, especially with a DFP integration. But I’m still curious about the bigger opportunity for publishers in easily building and hosting HTML5 creative through service providers.

To learn more about HTML5, check out these links shared by Spann.

  • HTML5 Intro –
  • HTML Basics –
  • CSS Basics –
  • JavaScript Basics –
  • Web Fundamentals –
  • Rich Media HTML5 Resources –
  • HTML5 Rocks –
  • Drawing on Canvas –

Viewability. This horse isn’t dead yet? Not by a long shot. A very informational session from PGA Tour’s Mike McLeod suggested that keeping viewability above 60% required focus on ad loading, refresh rules, adhesive and adjacent placements, and site loading speed. From a business standpoint, however, current industry standards must be re-evaluated, and industry guidance about what to do with unmeasured impressions is ambiguous.

In addition, it seems kind of ridiculous that the ability to predict viewability still hasn’t been baked into ad servers to enable real-time targeting (though some companies are doing something along those lines). Viewability’s lingering status as a post-campaign metric is a major hurdle to exploring the next level – selling on engagement.

Thanks to all who participated in another amazing PubForum. And if you’re sorry you missed out on these discussions plus conversations on ad blocking, technology migrations, cross-device tracking and more, well, perhaps you should consider coming to episode 37 in La Jolla, CA, this November? As always, space is limited.