Over the course of 2015 and 2016, header bidding levelled the digital ad playing field, empowering publishers in a market that continued to squeeze them from all sides. Now as we close out 2017, what started as a simple revenue generating tactic has developed into a core monetisation strategy for publishers in the US, the UK, and several other major markets.
Header bidding technology has undoubtedly helped publishers earn more revenue. But depending on factors like the type of client-side solution deployed, usage of a wrapper, the number of demand partners integrated in that wrapper, and the overall structure of the web property itself, the increase in revenue sometimes comes with a heavy “tax” on page load times.
This is why we are seeing publishers considering the move to server-side header bidding, as it helps to reduce the ad tech burden on a user’s device - whether it’s a desktop or phone. Instead of calling multiple exchanges from the browser, bid requests can now take place off the page, between the server-side wrapper and the exchanges. By handling the heavy lifting, server-side header bidding allows media properties to deliver the high-quality content experiences that users have come to expect, instead of devoting on-page resources to monetization.
Moving the header bidding competition off the user’s device (or browser) and onto a server will be one of the biggest priorities for publishers that want to keep thriving, but there are many factors to consider when making this switch. Here are just three key questions to help guide your discussions around transitioning to server-side header bidding in 2018:
1. What is the right solution for you?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ revenue solution for publishers - but server-side header bidding has evolved into a core strategic piece that can fit into the revenue generation strategies of publishers of all sizes. From global organisations serving up billions of impressions to smaller media brands with dedicated, highly-engaged audiences, it’s about determining the optimal set up based on your company’s makeup and environment.
For publishers of all shapes and sizes it’s important to be asking the right questions of themselves and also of the technology they use. Internally, only your team of unique technical, sales and business operations stakeholders have the answers there, but when it comes to the technology being deployed, there are a few things to consider:
- How do we optimise revenue potential whilst creating a benevolent environment in which to consume content?
- Is client-side header bidding having an effect on the user experience?
- How many demand partners are we using?
- Are the header bidding solutions we are using completely transparent?
Answering questions like these will help publishers decide which features will be most important in a server-side header bidding solution.
2. How flexible and transparent is the solution your team is considering?
You can start evaluating server-side header bidding solutions once you know how much modularity will suit your business and technology needs. While there are a number of solutions in the market, the main differentiator is whether you work with a proprietary or open-source platform.
Rubicon Project recently announced the launch of Prebid Server, an open-source server-side header bidding solution in closed beta. Open-source server-side header bidding solutions like this give all users access to the code behind the technology, making it easy to see, test and evaluate key influences on monetization such as:
- Auction dynamics (which demand partners win the auction, and why?)
- Traffic and logistics (are server timeouts and exchange partner latency hampering impression flow?)
- Overall revenue (which placements are earning the most revenue and when?)
- Seamless integration (is the header bidding solution widely adopted and does it support end-to-end PMP deals)
- Easily Configurable (can migration to server-side from the current header bidding configuration be gradual and phased from client-side?)
Prebid Server’s open-source backbone is also incredibly modular, meaning publishers have the flexibility and capability within it, from building their own custom add-ons to leveraging the myriad third-party tool for things like analytics.
3. How much support will your solution provider deliver?
Your solution provider should be able to offer consistent support to help you implement and test a server-side header bidding solution. This means solutions engineers on hand to ensure integrations are executed successfully every step of the way. Rubicon Project has a dedicated team of engineers globally that work to deliver on this for customers. Support also means analysis and optimization of factors like auction dynamics, the flow of impressions, performance by ad unit, geography, and more. Ensure that the platform you choose comes with world-class support and expertise you can rely on.
For more information on how you can make the transition to server-side header bidding smooth, seamless and successful, we suggest you download our guide: The Move to Server-Side Header Bidding: Five Things You Need to Know.
Steve Wing, Managing Director UK, Ireland & Nordics, Rubicon Project.
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