The 4 Things You Need to Know About Header Bidding

Looking to implement header bidding, but not sure where to start? Well, you've come to the right place. Our quick-start guide is a four-step checklist that provides a broad overview of everything you'll need to do to get up and running. Along the way, we'll be dropping in links to additional resources that will help you iron out some of the finer details of implementation.

By following these directions, you'll be well on your way to enjoying the unparalleled transparency and substantial revenue gains of true, holistic yield management. Ready? Let's begin.

  1. Learn

As you prepare to embark on your header bidding journey, it's important to first understand what header bidding is and how you can expect to benefit from integrating it with your website.

Header bidding (also known as “pre-bid integration") is an inventory management strategy that allows the ad server to understand the value of inventory impression by impression instead of simply using an average. Using a piece of JavaScript, publishers send out a call to multiple ad exchanges asking them to bid on an impression before the ad is served. In contrast to the way a “waterfall" setup forces publishers to give priority to a single exchange, header bidding lets you see what every one of your buyers would be willing to pay for one of your impressions. This allows you to sell your inventory for its true market value rather than at a pre-established price floor, and drives up prices by increasing competition between your demand sources. In short, header bidding is a smarter way to monetize your inventory by allowing you to integrate with multiple programmatic companies.

To understand why header bidding was created and the problem it solves for publishers, check out the “Header Bidding 101" Q&A on our website. Meanwhile, our SVP of Marketing Pat McCarthy wrote an article on Digiday with some useful tips on how to make your header bidding implementation a success.

  1. Assemble

While some of our peers like to say header bidding is as easy as adding a single tag to your web page, things aren't actually quite that simple.

In order to make it work, you'll have to put together a team that includes at least one skilled engineer capable of navigating what can be a relatively time-consuming set-up. This person will also likely help you measure performance, reduce latency, and optimize results once the set-up is complete. For a deeper dive into the in-house support you should have on-hand, this video from our AppNexus Publisher Forum is a great place to start.

And don't forget, the ad-tech partner you choose can be extremely helpful — or unhelpful — when it comes to guiding you through the process. As a header bidding pioneer and the founders of the open-source Prebid.js JavaScript code, working with AppNexus means you'll be in good hands from start to finish.

  1. Engage

The technology behind header bidding is fairly complex, but you'll need to have a firm grasp of it in order to make sure things run properly. While this might sound intimidating, there's no reason to worry — we've got you covered.

Our own Ben Kneen's step-by-step guide to header bidding does a terrific job of breaking down the technical nitty-gritty of pre-bid transactions. And once you're ready to get the ball rolling, our clients-only wiki page contains full implementation instructions.

  1. Follow

Header bidding is rapidly gaining steam among publishers. Stay up to date by keeping an eye on, an educational site that offers case studies, data analysis and the latest news on any changes made to the pre-bid JavaScript.

Hopefully, these resources will help make your header bidding implementation as fast, easy and efficient as possible. If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to your AppNexus representative. We can't wait to hear from you!


  • Industry Perspectives