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Rubicon Project Header Bidding Technology

Rubicon Project debuts open source server-to-server header bidding offering


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

October 24, 2017 | 4 min read

Rubicon Project has announced the launch of an open source server-to-server header bidding solution as part of the project, the adtech outfit’s first major commitment to the monetization solution under its current leadership.

Rubicon Project Tom Kershaw

Rubicon Project's server-side solution also integrates with publishers’ existing client-side header bidding solutions is a consortium of adtech companies geared towards the development of open source publisher monetization tools, with Rubicon’s server-side solution now freely available for media owners to adopt.

Rubicon’s server-side solution also integrates with publishers’ existing client-side header bidding solutions (where an ad call takes place on a publisher’s webpage, as opposed to the ad server) as well as Prebid.js – the most widely adopted client-side head bidding technology in market. This enables the gradual and phased migration from client to server-side solutions, according to the adtech company.

In addition, it also supports private marketplace (PMP) functionality, along with deal prioritization, meaning publishers can also use the technology to prioritize PMP deals, before monetizing an ad impression using header bidding.

The server-to-server header bidding solution supports desktop browser and mobile web, with mobile app and video functionality expected in early 2018, with Rubicon committing account and tech teams to help publishers adopting the technology with the transition.

The move represents the adtech outfit’s first significant move in the header bidding space under its current leadership, a significant industry trend its former leadership had not failed to keep up to date with. Rubicon’s technology chief Tom Kershaw, and director at, claims the move to server-to-server header bidding would unburden publishers.

This is because it means bid requests issued to potential advertisers take place in an ad server, no on their own webpages, hence relieving concerns over header bidding negatively affecting page load times.

“However, to truly improve the inefficiencies inherent in header bidding and create a better user experience across all parts of the digital advertising ecosystem, you must also go open source. Only open source is transparent, fully auditable and provides publishers one software stack, giving them the best chance for interoperability,” added Kershaw.

Pieter de Zwart, Rubicon Project’s VP of engineering, said the launch answered industry calls for transparency over auction dynamics, as well as the ability to transact in open and private marketplaces.

He added: “Our open source solution announced today addresses all of these requirements, while providing our clients with white-glove service and support. We look forward to continuing to champion and support open source technology that delivers the best results for sellers.”

Speaking previously with The Drum, Michael Barrett, Rubicon Project, chief executive officer, said the industry has reached a point of maturation, further describing an open source approach to technology as "the gold standard" from a transparency perspective.

"With code being shared everyone will see the auction mechanics, and see how it works, it will make for a more equitable system," he said.

Describing the adtech outfit's game of catchup on header bidding, Barrett went on to add: "I think you’ll see phases of header bidding, I think you’ll see a phase where everyone will be able to plug in and see the same impression from about 15 different places. That’s when you’ll start to see vendors say ‘that’s too much’, and then there’ll be a collapse.

"So as it matures, there’ll be a selection process that and you will see the buy-side realize they don’t have to plug in to 15 different buys of inventory, and then just pick the top guys they want. And I think we’ve always had really strong relationships with that side."

Rubicon Project Header Bidding Technology

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