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Header Bidding Facts and Statistics 2020

Header Bidding Statistics
So, we're stepping into a new decade and we're looking at a new set of problems and solutions in our industry. But header bidding played a vital role, helping both sides to access premium demand/ad prices efficiently. Do you know where it stands now?

Did you know that header bidding was originally called “Tagless”? And, according to the VP of Index Exchange, it was 2015 when header bidding got momentum in the ad tech industry. Similarly, if you see the Google Trends reports, header bidding search queries took off in 2015, roughly around the same time when AdExchanger published the article “The Rise of Header Bidding and The End of Waterfall”.

As you know, the header bidding technique enables publishers to offer their ad impressions to multiple SSPs simultaneously before even making an ad call to the server. Meanwhile, buyers also get greater access to the publishers’ premium inventories with higher transparency and efficiency.

Despite initial latency issues, header bidding has grown and gained popularity. By the end of 2016, header bidding accounted for 73% of total digital ad spending according to a report published by eMarketer and 48% of respondents agreed they received higher CPMs than the waterfall method. 

Let’s look at some of the interesting header bidding statistics that will help you understand the prevalence of the method in the industry today.

Table of Contents

Header Bidding Adoption

– In March 2019, out of 1000 most popular US websites, 79.2% of publishers used header bidding to monetize their inventories. Check the graph by eMarketer that clearly indicates how header bidding has been gaining popularity month by month.

US header bidding adoption 2019

So, is header bidding going to grow even when servers (recently, Google Ad Manager) shift to unified first-price auctions? Indeed. Curious to know why? 

Because more than half of US publishers have agreed that they obtained higher CPMs with header bidding. Further, eMarketer did a thorough analysis and said that out of 31% of publishers witnessed an increase in their yield (Src).

– Besides, the rise of header bidding not only impacted desktop web advertising but also mobile web advertising. According to a report published by Pubmatic, 24% of total impressions were served on mobile devices, 5% up than the previous year (Src) and it is expected that mobile advertising will grow in the coming few years.

Header bidding mobile share 2019

24% isn’t convincing? We pulled data of a billion impressions from our platform and the desktop accounted for just 23% of the total impressions, on the other hand, mobile accounted for 71 % of the impressions served via the platform.

– If you’re wondering about the niche of the publishers who have adopted header bidding in the past few years and not sure if your publishing business is ready to go with the technique, then here’s the data for you. 

Around 81% of the publishers having news/content websites out of the top 1,000 websites (that do programmatic advertising) placed ads through header bidding in 2018 (Src). Not just content publishers, 52% of eCommerce implemented the technique on their website.

US Websites that do Header Bidding By Type 2018

Header Bidding Wrappers Adoption

– According to a report published by Adzerk, 26% of digital publishers used in-house Prebid wrappers to connect to multiple demand partners and nearly 22% of publishers used Index Exchange’s wrapper in the third quarter of 2019 (Src).

Wrapper adoption 2019

– What about server-side header bidding? Or hybrid header bidding? Although client-side header bidding may have a downside that increases the page load time and causes latency issues, 39% of publishers did client-side header bidding while just 6.3% of publishers used the server-side technique to sell the ad inventories in 2018. And there were 21.1% of total publishers with header bidding sites implemented hybrid to take benefits of both, rather than depending on just one (Src).

Header Bidding Type

– But, what are the wrappers that are driving growth in header bidding? Looking at the statistics published by Adzerk, after Prebid Wrapper, Index Exchange’s wrapper is used by the majority of publishers whereas Consumable and 33Across occupied the second and third place in the top US wrappers list in Q4, 2019 (Src).

Top five US wrappers 2019

Header Bidding Demand Partners

According to Adzerk, AppNexus is the most widely-used demand partner for publishers. Following it, Amazon occupies the second place. Here’s the list of top 10 header bidding demand partners:

Top five US demand partners 2019

Graph Source – https://adzerk.com/adtechreports/

Header Bidding Adapter

In January 2018, 27% of publishes had 6-8 adapters integrated to the page. And nearly, 13.5% had more than 9 adapters to their site (Src). Here’s the graph showing the top five adapters in the programmatic industry used by the publishers monetizing their site via header bidding:

Percentage of publishers using adapters 2019

Since it is pretty clear that header bidding is common on desktop and mobile devices, it still needs time to grow and to gain popularity as a solution for in-app monetization. Let’s look at the numbers and what restricts the app publishers to utilize the technique.

In-app Header Bidding

Here’s the pain point – 31% of publishers do not implement header bidding due to limited understanding of the technique and almost 23% of the total avoid it because of the technical implementation issues (Src). However, despite some tough complications, 35% of publishers said they will be utilizing header bidding in the next 12 months.

Factors that prevent publishers from using in-app header bidding

Also, the majority of tier 1 publishers such as Vogue and Tech Crunch have their in-house built mobile applications, and 38% of them agreed on reducing latency and 37% said that the transparency is better than waterfall.


In particular, the rise of header bidding has completely changed the programmatic landscape. And yes, we aren’t denying that header bidding causes page speed latency. But, it can be reduced by setting up the auction environment optimally. For example, an ideal number of having demand partners is 5 – 7 or taking proactive approaches in calling the demand partners. Besides, you can take the help of programmatic professionals to optimize the header bidding set-up at any time.

Now that you know how header bidding is growing and expected to grow more in the future, let’s know in the comments if you have any questions on the bidding technique or need help with setting it up on your website.  

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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