Header Bidding 101 and Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM)

Publishers who monetize their websites through display ads have been successfully using header bidding for a number of years. In this post, we’ll unpack header bidding for publishers and introduce the benefits of Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM).

What is header bidding?

Header bidding is a technology that allows publishers to simultaneously request bids from multiple demand sources and send the bids to their ad server to conduct an auction. The ad server determines the winning bid and renders the ad on the site. Allowing multiple bidders to bid on the same inventory at the same time increases competition resulting in increased earnings for publishers.

Publishers place a piece of JavaScript code in the header section of their website HTML and set up line items in their ad server. When a user visits the page, the JavaScript requests bids from each demand partner and determines the winner before the ad request to the ad server is even made. The winning bid among header bidders now competes with the other eligible bidders depending on your ad server priorities. Finally, the ad server displays the winning bid on your page.

Unified Ad Marketplace (UAM) brings unique demand from Amazon and multiple SSP bidders who all compete for your inventory. UAM has simplified the integration process for publishers too. You just need to integrate once with UAM instead of integrating with each bidder.

Header bidding eliminates the need for an inefficient waterfall setup. In the waterfall setup, publishers call each bidder sequentially based on average CPM from highest to lowest. If the first bidder does not have an ad, the ad server would request a bid from the second bidder. If the second bidder responds with an ad, the third and following bidders would never have the opportunity to place their bid even if they are willing to bid higher than the second bidder for this impression.

Benefits for Publishers

The biggest benefit of header bidding is revenue lift. Publishers reported revenue increases between 20-50%, with one publisher reporting an increase of 70%.

In the following example, the publisher would lose $0.75 with a waterfall set up. The publisher has set up the waterfall order based on the average CPMs of Bidders 1 to 3. For this particular inventory, Bidder 1 bids $1.00, Bidder 2 bids $1.50 and Bidder 3 bids $1.75. With a waterfall setup, the Bidder 1 has first dibs to this inventory and wins with its $1.00 bid. In a header bidding setup, Bidder 3 wins with its $1.75 bid.

Here are a few quotes from publishers using UAM.

Another benefit is faster page load. With header bidding, the three calls with the three bidders occur simultaneously. With the waterfall method, six calls are required to receive bids from three bidders and they occur sequentially. The diagram below highlights the impact to the page load time. The six calls in the Waterfall method slows page load time compared to the three calls with Header Bidding. Page load is particularly fast with UAM since the UAM server makes the three calls on behalf of your site which reduces the burden on your site.


Lastly, header bidding provides additional transparency for publishers. With header bidding, all bidders have an opportunity to bid on every impression opportunity. This means publishers are able to see the bid prices for every bid request and assess the true value of their inventory.

Considerations for Publishers

Implementing header bidding requires basic coding skills and patience. A JavaScript code is added to the page header and setting up line items (often 100+ line items) in the ad server can be time consuming. UAM has simplified this pain point by offering an automated DFP line item push that configures all 400+ lines with one click using an API. UAM has a debug console that analyzes your javascript integration to ensure all the calls are occurring properly.

Publishers who stuff too many header bidding codes in their page header are seeing delays in their page load. Even though header bidding is designed to be fast, making all of the bid requests and running the header auction in the browser increases the amount of code being executed and the number of network connections being made, resulting in in slower page load. UAM has addressed this by having the UAM server make the calls to the bidders reducing the load on the publishers’ page.

Header Bidding Today

There have been enough advances in header bidding’s short history that publishers would be hard-pressed to sit on the sideline. Server to server header bidding solutions move the network requests to the cloud and allow publishers to work with many header bidders without slowing down the page. As a publisher, it’s wise to evaluate each header bidder to ensure it meets your needs.

For example, UAM is suited for publishers looking for high quality and fast loading ads. UAM brings unique Amazon demand through server to server header bidding and lets publishers set up line items with a click of a button. It also bodes well for publishers looking for simple maintenance. UAM combines all earnings from all bidders and sends you one monthly payment.

1. https://digiday.com/media/header-bidding-publishers-boosting-cpms-much-50-percent/

2. https://digiday.com/media/telegraph-used-header-bidding-increase-programmatic-revenue-70-percent/


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