Header Bidding has now become the standard approach to programmatic ad display and few would argue with the revenue gains that header bidding can bring. Yet, despite the promises of increased earnings, many publishers still don’t utilise header bidding with many citing confusion around the available approaches as a reason to hold back. For those sold on the idea of header bidding, but undecided on how to approach it, we have listed ten questions that we think it is important for publishers to ask. We’ve also include our answers to those questions from an OKO perspective, to help you decide whether OKO might be the right header bidding partner for you.
Q1. Is Header Bidding right for my site?
Despite what you might read, header bidding isn’t right for every website. Header bidding aims to create a fairer auction amongst multiple demand partners (networks and exchanges), which means that you first need inventory that multiple partners are willing to bid on. More partners plus additional technology does also mean some overhead and the gains need to justify that. A well-performing header bidding setup can increase revenue by 50-100%, so that overhead is easy to justify on a site that already generates a reasonable level of revenue. If a site was only earning $100/month then the gains would be less likely to make the switch worthwhile.
As a guide we say that websites should be measuring traffic in “Millions of pageviews per month” for header bidding to make good financial sense, and that content should be of good quality and family safe. If you aren’t sure, just ask. We don’t believe in pushing publishers to solutions that aren’t 100% right for them and can give you informed, honest advice on whether Header Bidding is right for you. We can also compare it with other options, such as Exchange Bidding. Just call, chat or email and we’ll put you in touch with one of our friendly experts and talk you through the pros and cons.
Q2. Who will handle the technical setup?
The technical setup of your header bidding can have a big impact on how well it performs. Get it wrong and you’ll not only miss out on valuable revenue, but you could also end up with a site that runs more slowly and turns away your audience. Solutions like Prebid give you the tools to setup Header Bidding, but it is still a technical process requiring knowledge and experience that few publishers have. The solution is often to allow a trusted demand-partner to handle setup using their own wrapper, but this can mean the setup being done by someone who’s interests are in a particular network making more money, rather than getting the best results for the publisher. As a result, many independent consultants have appeared offering Header Bidding setup, but the costs of this approach usually mean this is only an option for bigger publishers.
Q3. Who will be bidding?
Header bidding gives you the means to run an efficient auction, but its effectiveness is dependent on who bids. Running an effective header bidding setup means having strong relationships with enough ad networks and exchanges to give you 6-8 live partners plus additional partners for testing and as backup. Partner selection isn’t just a case of “the more the merrier” though, and in fact, the aim is to have as few partners in play as is necessary to maximise earnings. This means having enough partners to test to find the best performing for your site and using a mix of bidding strategies to get you the best results.
We have great relationships with the best demand partners and exchanges available and organise fast approval for our publishers to access that demand. We already know which partners generally perform, and work hard to find the right mix of partner for each site we monetize.
Q4. Who will manage those partners?
The more partners that are added, the more work is created. From managing bid discrepancies, tackling bad ads, solving technical issues and policy compliance to chasing payments, each partner creates additional work that needs to be done.
Our partners only have to worry about dealing with one company… us. We manage all aspects of the partner relationships and use our group buying power to ensure great deals and top service.
Q5. Who will you serve on Dynamic Allocation?
One of the biggest advantages of header bidding is that it can force Google’s dynamic allocation to push bid prices even higher than the winning header bid. The best option for this is the Google Ad Exchange (aka AdX). AdX brings together more buyers than any other source, and allows all eligible bidders opportunity to compete against both each other and your winning header partner. Whilst Ad Exchange is the best solution, it is not available to every publisher, forcing many to settle for using AdSense as an alternative.
We can offer access to the Ad Exchange as part of our Certified Publishing Partner status, fast-tracking our publishers for approval. Unlike most providers, OKO can also bring in additional dynamic allocation demand through Exchange Bidding. Exchange Bidding provides another (zero latency) opportunity to further increase your bids and push up revenue.
Q6. Who will run your setup day to day?
Header bidding isn’t “fire and forget”. Partners that perform well at setup might not be so strong a few weeks down the line. Likewise some partners are slow-burn and performance ramps up over time, or can vary due to regular supply/demand cycles. Running header bidding effectively also means managing bid discrepancy. What partners bid rarely tallies with what they actually pay and that discrepancy needs to be monitored with bids needing to be adjusted to compensate so that partners are competing fairly.
We manage all aspects of day-to-day management and report the aggregate results back to you in a simple, user-friendly dashboard.
Q7. Who will you turn to if you have a problem?
We all like to avoid problems, but the reality is that issues do occur. From bad ads to technical glitches, unexpected issues can impact both revenue and user experience. With a multi-demand setup it can often be difficult to pin down who is to “blame” and partners are not beyond passing the blame amongst themselves, or even passing it back to the publisher. If you don’t have a dedicated Adops resource this usually results in lost revenue, poor user-experience and extra work.
Because we manage everything we act as a single point of contact for our publishers. If a problem ever does arise you know exactly who to turn to to get it resolved. More often than not, we’ll have spotted issues and resolved them before our publishers even become aware.
Q8. How will you ensure the highest bids?
Bidder selection and setup play a huge part in performance, but so does inventory performance. Offering a sought-after mix of placements, served quickly and with high viewability against quality content is the best way to attract high bids. Working to improve inventory quality and performance to attract the highest bids, while optimising header bidding for the best win prices is the best way to improve overall profitability.
We work alongside our publishers to improve all aspects of inventory quality and performance. We offer regular one to one contact with our certified experts to highlight opportunities and potential gains, then support our publishers to benefit from those changes. The result is continuous improvement to attract the best advertisers and the highest bids.
Q9. How will you track performance?
Running multiple demand partners means having data in many places and sometimes reporting in different currencies and time-zones. It can sometimes be difficult to even answer simple questions like “What did we earn yesterday” without having to first copy data into a spreadsheet. Timely, accurate data is crucial to making smart decisions.
We collect data from all of our demand partners, normalising it and presenting it in a simple, intuitive dashboard.
Q10. Have you spoken to OKO yet?
If you are looking for a partner to deliver Header Bidding without the headache, then you should talk to OKO. We pride ourselves on combining excellent technology, demand and service to help independent web publishers thrive. Say “hi” on live chat if we’re around, or leave us a message below and one of our friendly, expert team will get back to you quickly.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.