Header bidding is the future of publisher income says Sovrn’s chief marketing officer

By Dani Gibson | Senior Writer

Sovrn

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October 25, 2017 | 5 min read

Header bidding is an important revenue stream for publishers, but it is still a “gawky adolescent with much room to grow” says Sovrn’s chief marketing officer, Andy Evans.

Sovrn owns and operates a propriety ad technology stack and give content creators the tools to monetise audiences. Ahead of a panel on revenue and diversification at Media Slap on Thursday 24 November, Evans makes it known that he is all in on header bidding when it comes to the future of income sources.

Header bidding, formerly known as tagless ad tech, advance bidding and header auction, has grown from a word-of-mouth technical adaptation between savvy publishers into a substantial portion of the programmatic ad business.

What is a promising future source of income for publishers?

Two words: header bidding. When viewed as part of a continuous evolution of ad tech — from fixed prices and volumes to “spray and pray” targeting — header bidding seems less like a hack and more like a natural progression for publishers seeking more control, simplicity, and money.

Despite all this, header bidding is still a gawky adolescent with much room to grow. We expect this maturation process to continue throughout the next year, taking the form of increased adoption from the DFP user base, migration to more efficient server-to-server execution, and a greater focus on partner trust and transparency.

What trends are you seeing when it comes to developing new products or services?

Header bidding has increased the number of programmatic partners publishers use which has increased the overhead of reporting, billing and controlling ad quality. We see an opportunity to help publishers in these areas; making it simple to report on their performance, more efficient in collecting payments and more informed to make ad-quality decisions.

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To date, header bidding has focused on display advertising, but we expect publishers to be agnostic to “ad type” and instead auction off placements on the site that give the advertiser the most attention. There will be a transition process in allowing video and native to compete with display, and we believe this is an area where we can help.

What is the main thing publishers want from companies like Sovrn, and how do you deliver that?

The dynamics of ad tech, data management, header bidding, yield optimisation, viewability, content distribution and ad blocking are all important challenges, and they require continual energy and focus.

Mid-sized and smaller professional publishers feel the heat of this intensely, due to their often-limited resources. Which is an issue for them, because they’d much rather spend their energy developing their content. That’s the whole reason they got into business in the first place, right?

At Sovrn, we feel these content creators are the heart and soul of the internet, and that’s why we’ve chosen to focus on helping publishers. We give them the tools they need to make money; access to distribution and scale to grow their audience; and a massive data common for extraordinary insights.

What is an example of a Sovrn innovation that is generating revenue on a digital platform?

One innovation we’ve developed is the metric of viewable engagement time (VET). Combining viewability with engagement, VET enables publishers to sell inventory on their website based not just on impressions, but on actual user engagement with the page and its content.

The point of VET is to improve and measure the overall quality and effectiveness of online ads. Viewability alone is useful, but coupling it with a metric of engagement adds tremendous value. Advertisers want to know that their money isn’t being wasted by paying for views which are never — or maybe just barely — seen. The more insight we can provide, the better for all parties.

What can delegates expect from your panel?

Lots of top tips and the latest trends on how publishers are making money — and how they can grow that business in 2018.

Sovrn is the voice for the mid- and long-tail publishers on the web. They are leading the way in monetisation and diversifying their revenue, and we are focused on helping them run their business in the best way possible.

Evans will speak amongst a panel of other industry experts on revenue and diversification at Media Slap on Friday 24 November at Google, London.

This conference looks at the media publishing business focusing on areas such as technology, audience, content, new products and other revenue models. You can purchase tickets now via the event website.

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Sovrn Holdings is an online advertising technology firm based in Boulder, Colorado with offices in San Francisco and New York City.

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