Why Header Bid Networks will Increase Publisher Ad Revenues

Why Header Bid Networks will Increase Publisher Ad Revenues

The introduction of header bid networks into the display ad market had been highly anticipated for quite some time. Now that header bid setups have been live for years, we’re seeing their impact on the industry and more importantly, how they affect publisher revenues.

What are header bid networks?

A header bid network enables a direct stream of buying between advertisers, agencies, demand side platforms (DSPs) and publishers. Header bidding occurs via custom code in the header of each page and is usually integrated with an ad server. This allows the header bid network to “cherry-pick” the ad impressions that their demand bids to buy. These purchase decisions are based on the users demographics, geographics, psychographics and past browsing history based on cookies. If the impression is valuable to a buyer, they will purchase that ad impression(s) at a minimum RPM set by the publisher or price increments set within the ad server. If the ad impression is not bought by a buyer with the header bid network, it is simply run via the ad server like normal as if the header bid network wasn’t there. The result: the cherry-picked ad impressions are bought at a high RPM and the rest do not have to be passed back like traditional ad networks.

Why is a header bid solution good for publishers?

This header bid setup is optimal for publishers because it sets up a new tier within the ad inventory between direct sales and remnant inventory. The header bid RPMs are much higher than the remnant RPMs because of minimum RPMs and there are no passbacks. That enables incremental RPM increases without the downside of passbacks which results in definite increases in ad revenues as long as the min RPMs are set properly.

Is there a downside to setting up header bid networks?

Yes, the setup for header bid networks can be complex, time-consuming and take valuable developer resources. The instruction guides given for these setups are sub-par at best for the developers and the ad optimizers on the ad server side. It takes a lot of back and forth with the header bid networks especially the first time. Publishers have to dedicate a decent amount of developer resources to getting header bid solutions setup. It is rare to get it right the first time and requires testing as well. In our experience, the initial setup takes about a month before it starts working properly.

Are setting up header bid networks worth it?

Overall yes, however, don’t underestimate the dedication needed to set up a header bid network. In order to succeed, publishers must do the following:

  • Dedicate enough developer resources.
  • Have expert level knowledge of an ad server (eg. DoubleClick for Publishers).
  • Dedicate enough time to the setup and testing.
  • Test many complex setups within the ad server, including how to run other ad networks relative to the header bid network.

If you don’t have a full-time ad optimization expert on your team, then we recommend hiring one or contracting with a company that has had proven success implementing header bid networks for many premium publishers.

If you’re interested in learning how MonetizeMore can implement header bid networks for your publisher network efficiently and effectively to increase your ad revenues, contact us here.

Follow our 3-part series on Header Bidding solutions from MonetizeMore. Stay tuned for more articles or get them delivered to your inbox when you join our newsletter.


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Kean Graham

CEO and Founder at MonetizeMore

Kean is the resident expert in Ad Optimization covering areas like AdSense Optimization, DFP Management, and third-party ad network partnerships. Kean believes in the supremacy of direct publisher deals and holistic optimization as keys to effective and consistent ad revenue increases.

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