What is Header Bidding?

Programmatic buying, in literal sense means automation, but still requires a lot of work to connect buyers and sellers. These connects also involve publishers trying to make a lot more money and buyers trying to get maximum value for the inventory bought.

Techniques like header bidding are one of the ways publishers try to get more revenue for their inventory. It has different names like advance bidding, pre- bidding etc.

The concept is that publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making a ping to their ad server. By letting multiple demand sources bid on the same inventory at the same time, the yield or the returns earned by the publishers go up.

It will be a dream come true for publishers to see their inventory make enough returns on inventory and drive maximum efficient utilisation of the inventory. Its often called “publisher waterfall”, where impressions are sold to sales channels in descending order until someone bids it. This obviously means money is lost along the path.

. Publishers usually don’t get much value when they plug into AdX as due to its technology, AdX is able to beat other demand in the adserver and place a bid even if its not its turn.From a buyers perspective, header bidding allows for them to bypass the relationship that DFP( DoubleClick for publishers) and AdX have.

Publishers obviously see a lot more value in header bidding. This also puts a lot of pressure on DFP, which through its dynamic allocation feature lets only AdX bid on every impressions.

But, there is a catch which essentially comes in the form of a complicated setup and affect page load time of publishers. Each SSP tag means a slow down on the load time of the web pages. As the name stand, the tag also needs to be implemented on the site header. The other challenge is agreeing a key value to receive the pre- bid price. This means a higher visibility on all the inventory and potentially limit incremental revenue. so….will a publisher be willing to allow for such things?

Well, one way ( in the future that is) will be to have a standard or universal header tag between all vendors.

But like I said, only in the future. Until then publishers just need to realise its a better way of doing things that the way they are doing now.

Programmatic: The state of it

With 2015 coming to a close, one key buzzword in the digital space has been “programmatic buying”. I would like to take this opportunity to give my thoughts.

A recent Ad Exchanger survey showed that there has been some evolution from one of two players to more adopters across various industries.

The main industries seen investing in programmatic have been Retail, Financial services, Media and CPG.

Based on the survey, there have been both a cautious and bullish opinion on marketers adopting programmatic. This is expected to change as we see the overall market maturing with expanded pool and type of inventory. This would eventually lead to a more increase in investments on programmatic.

There three main areas of programmatic that will see an increase. These are.

Desktop display, which still dominates and is the most mature of the programmatic channel.

Programmatic video remains popular, however the challenge remains in getting premium inventory. YouTube still remains the most popular destination for most marketers.

Programmatic mobile, which is growing & expected to grow with industry maturity and ad unit prices remaining low.

All said and keeping a high hope for the year ahead, the main challenge still remains with the key issue of “ transparency”

This is not a surprise considering agency-trading desks and kickback concerns. Added to this the complexity of having layers and layers in the value chain.

As a result we are seeing many agencies having direct involvement by investing in technology or engaging in more oversight into agency and partner management.

Agencies continue to point fingers at “ inventory quality” as the biggest problem. This obviously leads to a lot of trust issue between the agency and the clients on roles, responsibilities and expectations.

The key benefit still remains the low CPM, which is very visible in the CPG industry who view programmatic as a mechanism to drive cost saving and reduce non-working media dollars. This is complete contrast to ROI driven clients who go to the extent of matching impression purchase price to the expected ROI.

Another interesting trend developing off late is the use of multiple DSPs- Turn, Double click Bid Manager, MediaMath etc.- to execute full scope of the programmatic media efforts. This does provide its own challenges in terms of data overlap, poor frequency management- this trend is likely to increase as marketers try to maximise reach and use channel specific DSPs.

The Next big wave?

The next big thing to look out for is programmatic TV, though in infancy the excitement among the buyers are increasing- granular targeting, flexibility and measurement in the television media space.

On thing is for sure, programmatic will be an interesting space to watch out for. Programmatic media has moved from “ tip of the iceberg” to mainstream.