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What Should You Look For in a Header Bidding Provider?

Header Bidding Provider
Looking to implement header bidding? Great. Then, let us help you ask the right questions to find the best provider in the market.

For a publisher who hasn’t partnered with a header bidding company yet, it is difficult to know who is the best-fit header bidding provider for the business and in what terms. The programmatic advertising industry has many header bidding companies claiming to be the best. But how to select the right partner before onboarding?

This article will walk you through a comprehensive evaluation process of a header bidding company so that you can contemplate whether it is the right one at all. Ensure that you use the checklist to find the best match for your header bidding goals.

Table of Contents

Things to Look into a Header Bidding Provider

Pricing And Payment Structure

The payment structure and payment cycle are first on the list for a reason. Factors such as minimums, fees, and contractual commitments are very crucial since these factors vary from vendor to vendor. Bottom line, do you know some header bidding companies even have a lock-in period of 30 days or 60 days?

In addition, the majority of header bidding companies work on the revenue-share model. Generally, the fee asked by the company lies between 15% and 20% of the total ad revenue earnings. However, you must not fall for a vendor offering a 5% revenue cut, as the product and service quality will be poorer than a vendor offering 15%-20%. 

Besides, the payment cycle is also a major factor that needs to be considered. A header bidding vendor may pay you on NET30, NET60, or NET90 basis.

Questions you should ask the header bidding vendor during an evaluation:

  1. Apart from revenue share, does the company have any hidden charges that may be asked later to pay?
  2. How much will you be asked to pay for ad serving or other ad delivery-related services?
  3. If the header bidding company provides both – self-service and managed service, what is the fee structure for each?

Demand Partners and Prebid Wrapper

The more page views you have, the more important it is to get access to premium demand partners. To know about the quality of demand partners, the key indicators are bid rate, win rate, and timeout rate. While the bid rate will help to know about the ad fill rate, the timeout rate will give an idea of if the SSP will cause latency issues.

So, you need to check all of the three factors because judging an SSP purely on one factor (i.e. either on bid rate or win rate, or timeout) can be ineffective. That said, it is impossible to know about these factors in advance without implementing the demand partners on the site. Perhaps, the probable win rate, bid rate, etc., can be estimated in advance.

The industry is crowded with hundreds of SSPs, and you need the best match for your audience. A big SSP is more likely to bring premium and relevant advertisers for your ad inventories on a global scale. On the other hand, a niche SSP catering to a specific audience would be irrelevant to your business.

As the demand partners (SSPs, ad exchanges, etc.) are managed and controlled by the header bidding wrapper, you should know the wrapper’s ability to add or remove demand partners without hindering the functioning of the website. 

Moving forward, header bidding can be implemented on the server side as well as the client side. Most prebid providers support either of them, and some of them support both. So, ensure that the vendor knows how to implement the technology you want.

Questions you should ask the header bidding provider during an evaluation:

  1. How much time it will take to integrate the wrapper and get started with header bidding?
  2. Do they offer self-service wrappers and fully-managed wrappers? If it is the self-service wrapper, how extensive set-up will it require?
  3. Has the company built the wrapper in-house or used an open-source framework such as Prebid?

Technical Support And Services

Header bidding technology is designed for the “always-on” environments where downtime must be avoided. This gives publishers hundreds of reasons to ask a header bidding company for different levels of support. Since a company may have self-service or managed service, it is better to understand what kind of support will be available for you.

In the case of a self-service header bidding product, some companies provide proper training and instant access to the support team to help with the technical implementation of the wrapper, adapter, or any other ad server-related factors (e.g., line items, ad units, etc.). Consequently, such companies may have a fee to give you access to support and training. 

With a managed-service provider, you might not require training as they will do the implementation of header bidding and take care of everything. Also, enquire about the availability of support. Some companies provide support only during business hours, while some offer 24×7 support availability. 

Questions you should ask the header bidding provider during an evaluation:

  1. In terms of support, is the company providing support via email, phone, or both?
  2. What is the level of technical support you can be provided by the company? For an ad server, will they help you in setting up ad trafficking if required?
  3. What is the process of onboarding and implementation of header bidding for a new publisher?

Nearly $100 billion will be lost to ad fraud in the digital advertising industry by 2023, according to eMarketer. If you have spent a while in the programmatic, you might have an idea of how vulnerable it is to ad fraud. And looking at the given number, no publisher shouldn’t forget to check how prone the header bidding vendor is to ad fraud.

Ad fraud

It is said that an ideal header bidding company should take proactive measures to protect the ad inventories of publishers from the risks of ad fraud by monitoring and blocking low-quality ads from the buyers.

You should look for a company that can help you combat ad fraud with the help of a combination of manual human checks and applying technical measures to block ad fraud on the inventories. Besides, some companies partner with third-party ad fraud detection companies to control the fraud.

Brand safety

With millions of traffic and brand name known to the audience, it becomes necessary to ensure that the ads shown on your web pages are deemed to be following your brand standards and aren’t inappropriate. A header bidding company’s ad ops team generally does this by:

  • Whitelisting and blacklisting advertisers,
  • Direct deals with premium and brand-safe advertisers,
  • Directly integrating third-party vendors such as Confiant, WhiteOps, and so on.

Data Privacy

We are living in an era where a new data privacy law is getting introduced every now and then. Online consumers are getting more serious about how their data are being used and shared. So, you should look for a header bidding vendor who can help you with the implementation of Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) and make the publisher’s website compliant with privacy laws and regulations.

Questions you should ask the header bidding vendor during an evaluation:

  1. Are they going to share/sell your audience data to the other vendors?
  2. Are they capable of protecting your ad inventories from malicious ads and ad fraud?
  3. If they are working with an ad verification company or not? And if yes, which company and what processes and tools are there to protect your inventories from invalid clicks and impressions?
  4. Do they allow blacklisting and whitelisting advertisers to sell your impressions in a brand-safe environment?

Reporting And Analytics

Reporting and analytics are used by publishers to analyze ads on a website. Not only do they give insights into ad performance, but they also help a lot in planning, optimizing, and scaling campaigns for the future.

You need to know how ads are performing in terms of eCPMs, viewability, and revenue, or what about SSPs’ win rate, bid rate, and timeout rate. To get help in these areas, you need to make sure that the header bidding company has the right analytics tools and abilities to run advanced analytics if needed for you. 

A company might have its own dashboard or have partnered with a third-party header bidding analytics provider. In both cases, what matters to you is the availability of reporting tools. 

And yes, reporting accuracy. Not all companies provide refreshed and the latest data every time. Data freshness varies from company to company. Some companies provide data in 24 hours, while others may provide it in 12 hours. 

Questions you should ask the header bidding vendor during an evaluation:

  1. What levels of reporting will be available for you? Will you be able to see bidder performance on the dashboard?
  2. Will there be any delay in the time to share the latest report?
  3. Will you be able to export reports in bulk and share them with your network (or team)? Is there any limit on exporting reports on a daily basis or monthly basis?

User-friendly Product And Workflow

It is a fact that header bidding is a complex product and requires a lot of technical implementations and understanding to run it without causing trouble. Due to the said reason, a publisher has to ensure that the header bidding company is providing user-friendly interfaces and dashboards.

Although it is less likely that you will get to know about a vendor’s products without onboarding and experimenting with them, you can ask a few essential questions, such as how they create ad tags, ad units, Prebid orders, and so on. An experienced header bidding provider must have the potential to do such basic activities in a small interval of time.

With respect to the workflow, it would be easier with a managed service provider as they handle everything from scratch. However, the workflow could be a bit difficult with self-service providers.

Questions you should ask the header bidding vendor during an evaluation:

  1. If it is a self-service provider, will the company help you in ad optimization via its tools and algorithms? 
  2. If they are a managed-service provider, how will they do ad set-up, management, and optimization to increase the yield?

Additionally, check if the company has tailored the header bidding product for publishers of your size (means website traffic). Check whom it is targeting – whether they are working with small publishers, mid-sized publishers, or big publishers with thousands of millions of page views a month.

To better understand the vendor, you can ask how they are going to start with the products on your website and continue for the next 30, 60, or 90 days. 

Additional questions you should ask the header bidding vendor during an evaluation:

  1. How are they going to integrate the wrapper into your website?
  2. Are they capable of redefining and developing a new strategy for your business better than the previous partner?
  3. How are they going to help integrate the premium SSPs or ad exchanges? If required, will they allow you to change the SSPs or exchanges as you want?

Sidenote: Some of the header bidding companies provide add-on products to increase the existing yield of a publisher. Let’s take our AXT as an example. AXT increases ad revenue without increasing the number of ad units on a web page. So, you should look into the products outside of header bidding and know how to leverage them to generate more revenue. 

What’s Next?

We believe that the above-discussed points have made the process of determining the right header bidding company a bit easier for you. Understanding the header bidding company isn’t rocket science and is as complicated as publishers think. So, take one step at a time to evaluate the vendor, and analyze the most important traits you need in a header bidding partner. 

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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