3 Ways Header Bidding Levels the Playing Field For Online Publishers

:: Darline Jean, PulsePoint ::

Ask many of today's digital publishers what their biggest challenges are and you'll likely hear a common refrain - growing their audience while producing high-quality editorial content in a very competitive environment.

While the editorial side is focusing on creating content to engage and grow their user base, heads of sales are tasked with increasing display ad revenues by an aggressive percent, and they're wondering how they're going to hit that goal in today's marketplace.

As brands continue to allocate a chunk of their ad buying programmatically, both through RTB and guaranteed deals, it is becoming increasingly important for publishers to balance a mixture of direct-sold and programmatic premium inventory, ensuring maximum fill and high CPMs.

For publishers to improve their inventory performance - and help advertisers achieve the best performance through programmatic - they need a level playing field. Fortunately, programmatic has evolved to the point where publishers finally have a choice with header bidding, a technique that helps publishers hit those lofty revenue goals in three key ways.

1. Eliminating potential for error

The waterfall was the earliest and still remains the most common programmatic implementation method used, even though waterfalling has shown that publishers don't always get the highest amount offered for impressions. Furthermore, discrepancies are commonplace and dedicated teams are required to manage complicated ad trafficking processes. And despite the fact that the waterfall was designed to help the publisher access more sources of revenue, the demand-side platforms (DSPs) actually hold much of the power. By its nature, the waterfall simply can never offer the best programmatic performance. Header bidding reduces these complexities, so discrepancies are minimized.

2. Promoting competition

Header bidding allows publishers to offer an ad impression to all of their demand partners at the same time before the server makes an ad call. This eliminates the waterfall, thereby generating greater competition among demand partners, which results in higher CPMs and fewer unsold impressions for publishers who are attracting desirable audiences.

3. Maximizing impression value

In addition to creating engaging content and driving a user base, the important thing to a publisher is getting the greatest value for their impressions. The biggest benefit of header bidding is that it gives the publisher the opportunity to derive maximum revenue for each ad impression. A core value behind programmatic is that the end user who sees the ad carries as much value as the site displaying the ad itself. When these users arrive at a publisher's site, the publisher should profit. Header bidding allows them to get the highest possible CPM for the most in-demand audiences. Because some campaigns are only running on some DSPs/monetization platforms, without connecting to all of these sources, publishers are simply missing out.

Programmatic should be used as a strategic approach to monetization, and can supplement a direct sales team or be the sole monetization strategy, depending on the size and uniqueness of content. For those who are aiming to receive higher yield, it's time to build a strategic monetization approach that includes programmatic. Header bidding levels the playing field so that publishers are able to finally experience the benefits that programmatic technology had previously only been able to promise. About the Author

Darline Jean is the chief operating officer for PulsePoint, where she is responsible for shaping product strategy focused on enhancing the company's premium programmatic and content marketing solutions. Before joining PulsePoint, Darline was president and CEO of The About Group where she was responsible for the strategic direction of the business unit of The New York Times Company that includes About.com, CalorieCount.com and ConsumerSearch.com.