Infographic: Three Header Bidding Myths, Debunked

If you’re a publisher, then you’ve probably heard plenty about header bidding by now -- it's taken the supply side by storm. But there are a few myths floating around, holding publishers back from adopting this new monetization tool. In this post, we’re going to lay out three of the biggest header bidding myths and explain the facts behind each one.

First, let's start with a quick recap on why header bidding has become so popular.

Under the traditional waterfall system of ad serving, every new impression is auctioned off to one ad exchange at a time – priority is determined by how much each exchange has paid historically. It’s not a truly open auction, and it lowers monetization by forcing publishers to accept lower bids.

With a few lines of Javascript, header bidding enables publishers to ditch the waterfall, hold auctions on all of its exchanges at the same time, and get the highest possible price – the true, marketplace value – for every impression.

So why are some publishers holding back? It comes down to a few key misconceptions.


Myth 1: Header bidding means latency

Some publishers worry that auctioning off impressions to all those demand sources at once will cause latency on their web pages. It’s a legitimate concern – nothing hurts user experience like long load times.

Reality: Header bidding done right doesn’t affect load times

It’s true that some publishers have seen their load times go up after implementing header bidding. But those who have chosen the right header bidding code and implemented it correctly aren’t having those problems.

So what does header bidding done right look like?

For one thing, you’re going to want to make sure you’re efficiently integrating with all of your demand sources. That’s where a header bidding container, or wrapper, comes in. Rather than adding javascript for every single exchange you work with, using a container lets you connect your site to multiple exchanges with a single, manageable piece of code.

You also need to make sure holding asynchronous auctions rather than synchronous ones. The difference is a lot bigger than one letter. The tech behind it is somewhat complex, but basically, if you’re holding synchronous auctions, the highest bids are fetched from each exchange one at a time. But with asynchronous options, all bids come in at the same time, which – you guessed it – reduces latency.


Myth 2: Header bidding puts publishers’ data at risk

Publishers are also concerned that header bidding increases the risk of data leakage. Under the traditional programmatic system, the bidding and decision-making process around which ad to serve takes place on the publisher’s own ad server. But with header bidding, publishers send the user data behind each impression – age, location, last site visited, etc. – directly to the demand sources. It feels like they’re putting that data at risk.

Reality: With the right partners, header bidding is no riskier than any other auction

Publishers are right to worry about data leakage if they’re using one of the proprietary, “black box” header bidding solutions offered by many providers. After all, how can your developers find and fix vulnerabilities if they can’t even look at the code?

But with an open source solution like Prebid.js (developed by AppNexus but free and open to all), that’s not a concern. Your developers can get under the hood and make sure the code is optimized for the safe transmission of data – as well as your unique commercial needs. As Linux inventor and father of open source technology Linus Torvalds said, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” The same goes for data vulnerabilities.

Choosing the right partners also comes down to the exchanges and RTB platforms you work with. Your data is probably safe if you’re working with reputable demand sources who care about user privacy.

Myth 3: Header bidding platforms are biased toward proprietary demand sources

Lots of publishers also believe that whatever header bidding solution they choose will favor bids from ad exchanges also owned by that same provider.

Reality: Demand agnostic platforms put every bidder on an even playing field

Biased auctions have been a concern of publishers’ since programmatic advertising first came on the scene more than a decade ago. But the top publisher platforms have built their reputations on being demand agnostic, proving time and time again that they can run auctions without favoring their own demand platforms.

This is also an issue that open source header bidding solutions solve. Again, if your developers have the ability to edit the code, they can make sure that the auction’s decision logic treats all bids equally.

Want to learn more about header bidding technology? Download our white paper here.

  • Technology