December 2, 2023


Tech as it is.

Here’s the 411 on Header Bidding

411 on Header Bidding

411 on Header Bidding

411 on Header Bidding: Google Ad Manager used to be amongst the most popular and top ad servers for a long time. DFP has allowed the publishers to add additional demand partners to their ad network. Google, however, had something better in its mind that allowed it to purchase impressions right before any additional demand partners with the help of dynamic Allocation in Google AdX.

It prompted the independent ad tech vendors to develop the technique that balanced them. This method is now widely known as Header Bidding. Although it is globally known as of now, some aspects of header bidding still remain a mystery for many publishers. To help publishers gain more insight into header bidding, its working mechanism, and how it can help them, it is best to consider this article as it contains everything you need to know about header bidding.

Header Bidding

Header bidding is the programmatic auction type in which the requests for bids are constantly sent to more than one demand partner in real-time. In other words, every single ad network and impression will have the chance to be purchased at its maximum value. It works and is based on the accessible demand.

These bids, later on, are passed through several filters such as floor price and the criteria which were targeted while publishers configure the ad in their server. Publishers can select the highest bid with the help of filtered bids, and finally, the ad creative will be on the user’s screen. The whole process does not consume much time and is done and dusted in seconds.

The WaterFall Process

Publishers have traditionally used the following waterfall space for selling ad space:

  • Publishers would begin by setting up the floor price for available ad inventory.
  • The site will send the ad request to the servers.
  • Direct-sold ad inventory will take precedence over programmatically sold ad inventory.
  • The waterfall process will pass accessible ad inventory to the top-ranked ad exchange of the website. For example, Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange. If the floor price goes beyond, you have to sell the inventory.
  • Inventory that you can’t sell will pass to the second-ranked ad network or exchange.

Various ad networks and ad exchanges were usually ranked according to the highest paying ad inventory or ad size.

However, even after these processes, it was not efficient. It usually sold the publisher’s ad inventory at a lower rate than its actual worth. Since advertisers could not bid against one another back to back, this process would sell the ad inventory to the first advertiser with a higher bid than the floor price of the publisher. Additionally, it consumed more time to pass that ad space to the exchanges one by one.

Header Bidding Before

Now that you know what header bidding is and its role for the ad network, stepping into its history will help us get more insight.

Header bidding made its debut in ad tech around 2014. And after one year of its debut, in 2015, it became immensely popular. The name was well-known worldwide. In the beginning, publishers worldwide knew header bidding by multiple names. For example, tagless, full bidding, pre-bidding, it was popular with many other names. In June 2018, AdExchanger uploaded the article on header bidding that led to its final name.

After getting the common name for the project, publishers and advertisers from all parts of the world accepted the term. It made a significant difference in the sector. For example, it made it easier for the publishers, vendors, and advertisers to communicate and administer the appropriate solution.

It resulted in the header bidding adoption spreading like wildfire, and every publisher knew. If it weren’t for the header bidding, the publishers would still have to go for the traditional waterfall process. The process wasn’t efficient enough and time-consuming without providing better rates.

Implementation Of Header Bidding

To implement header bidding, publishers are supposed to place the JavaScript code snippet into the header of the website section to use the header bidding wrapper. It helps in triggering the auction, and the impression appears.

For publishers with technical knowledge, experience, and time to implement header bidding themselves, prebid.js is among the most appropriate solutions. It also helps publishers implement header bidding.

However, you should know that header bidding can be time-consuming and complex to implement because:

  • The solution will need a developer for efficient implementation and seamless services.
  • Constant updates will be necessary as the industry will be evolving at a faster pace.
  • Have to create individual accounts for all of the demand partners.
  • Requires Advertising operation experience for maximizing the price rules and ad layout.
  • You should know that it can be challenging to consolidate revenue from all parties.

Header Bidding Wrapper

The JS tag placed in the page header provides access to several advertising demand partners and rules for the beneficial real-time bidding process. The header bidding wrapper allows publishers to remove or add the ad demand source without messing with the website’s coding. It also enforces timeout settings and triggers the synched call for ad demand partners to submit the bids.

If the header bidder wrapper was not invented, publishers will have to replace the old header tag manually with the new tag when there is an update. Moreover, they would also have to remove or add individual tags on the page for every demand partner. Long story short, it is an efficient method for serving ad auctions.


Header bidding is a game-changer for ad networks. It has helped publishers with several aspects that let them have better rates and an efficient, seamless process of ad bidding. It is the most efficient solution publishers can use today to monetize their respective websites and get that ad revenue rollin’.

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