Key Points

  • Header bidding — also known as tagless, advanced bidding, or pre-bidding — allows publishers to instantaneously collect buyer bids on all ad inventory before selling that inventory. By making real-time bidding (RTB) technology the first step in the auction process — and not the last — publishers can see what buyers are willing to pay on all inventory and get the highest price per ad.
  • Publishers are rapidly adopting header bidding technology. Nearly 70% of publishers now use header bidding technology, according to Tom Shields, SVP of Publisher Strategy at AppNexus. This is up from a negligible number two years ago. 
  • The technology offers many benefits for publishers and advertisers.
    • Header bidding offers publishers a means to optimize yield, cut down on passbacks, increase transparency of inventory value, and eliminate Google's favoritism for its own ad exchange, AdX.
    • On the buy side, advertisers are given the opportunity to bid on all available inventory and not just remnant inventory like in a waterfall system. 
  • But header bidding requires advanced technical implementation and could lead to increased latency issues. To make up for this, many header code providers are creating header wrappers that cut back on operational hurdles when publishers use multiple header providers and offer timeout settings to ease latency problems. 

What is header bidding?

Header bidding technology has gained significant traction among digital publishers in the past year with its promise to cut back on inefficiencies in programmatic ad sales by maximizing publisher yield and ultimately increasing ad revenues. 

Header BiddingBI Intelligence

Header bidding — also known as tagless, advanced bidding, or pre-bidding — ultimately allows publishers to instantaneously collect buyer bids on all ad inventory before determining where to sell the inventory. To trigger the bidding process, publishers insert javascript code from third-party header providers into their page headers — the part of a webpage that contains various code to help track analytics and serve ads. This codes allows selected demand sources, including ad exchanges, ad networks, or demand side platforms (DSPs), to bid on all ad inventory available on that page regardless of whether or not that inventory was already sold through direct buys.

More specifically, when a user [...]