Header Bidding Wrappers – Everything You Need to Know

Updated on: April 7, 2024
As we have already covered header bidding, now is the time to get a bit into depth and understand the essential part of it – the header bidding wrappers.

The growth of the internet over the years has increased demand for fast and efficient online services delivered at scale. The digital advertising industry is no exception to this trend, as advertisers and publishers want to reach their targeted audiences quickly and efficiently. Here comes automation to the rescue again in the form of programmatic advertising.

We have already discussed programmatic advertising in detail and how it has reached new heights, especially in terms of speed and scalability with header bidding. Now, it’s time to go granular and understand what goes behind the scenes. So, in this article, we’ll uncover everything about header bidding wrapper and see how it helps you run efficient header auctions.

What Is a Header Bidding Wrapper? How Does it Work?

A header bidding wrapper is a piece of JavaScript code added to the website’s header. Also known as a container or a framework, the header bidding wrapper helps you:

  1. Run header auctions by sending requests to the demand partners and procuring the bids from them.
  2. Define rules to ensure that the auctions are efficient. The rules include when the auction should start, how many bidders will participate, how long the auction should wait for the bids (timeout), floor prices, and so forth.

As the name suggests, the header bidding wrapper wraps all relevant demands for the ad space during real-time bidding (RTB). What does this mean? Let us explain it with a no-wrapper situation. 

So, if you don’t have a header bidding wrapper, you will have to manage each bidder (demand partners) separately. This means that each ad network or supply-side platform (SSP) will need to be integrated directly into the publisher’s website through its own JavaScript code. The result- slow page load times, loss of revenue, and more. 

Apart from exposing your inventories to several demand partners in real-time, in one place, the wrapper also helps in consent management. Without a wrapper, a publisher must handle each bidder’s consent management separately, which can be very time-consuming and complex.

Types of Header Bidding Wrappers

For a publisher who’s looking to implement header bidding, there are three types of wrappers available in the market – Open-source, Proprietary, and Managed Wrapper solutions. Let’s understand each of them one by one:

Open-source header bidding wrappers:

An open-source header bidding wrapper is a free and open-source solution, typically built and maintained by a community of developers. 

The most popular and widely used open-source header bidding wrapper is Prebid.js. It is an open-source JavaScript library that publishers can use to implement header bidding on their websites. A large number of ad partners and vendors support Prebid.js. It provides publishers with a set of pre-built adapters for different ad networks and a flexible API that can be used to integrate with custom bidders. 

The Prebid wrapper is currently being used by over 100,000 sites worldwide, including many large publishers such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Forbes, and Business Insider.

It’s worth noting that open-source header bidding wrappers are free to use, but the publishers may need to pay for the vendors’ integration, support, or other services. Plus, there are other complications that you cannot ignore, especially if you’re an independent publisher with limited technical support. For example, you’ll have to add the codes and manage the complete setup. 

Proprietary wrapper solutions: 

As the name implies, these wrappers are proprietary technologies from AdTech platforms. They are owned by a specific company that offers them as a service or license to publishers for a fee. 

Typically, a proprietary wrapper solution is offered by the top SSPs and ad exchanges such as Index Exchange. In this type of solution, the AdTech partner leverages its own in-built proprietary code to facilitate header auctions. 

But publishers don’t prefer proprietary wrappers as they offer less transparency. Plus, it is not feasible for all publishers to access these wrapper providers because they have strict eligibility requirements (traffic, content type, etc.). On top of it, there are concerns regarding SSPs offering proprietary wrappers that may prioritize their own exchanges (related read – Index Exchange’s bid caching controversy).

Managed wrapper solutions:

Managed wrapper solutions are made for publishers who don’t have the technical and ad operations resources and SSP partnerships. The best thing about managed solutions is that the wrapper is often built on top of Prebid. So, you have complete transparency and added benefits depending on the provider (some may provide complimentary ad products, a unified dashboard, etc.).

Managed wrapper solutions also provide dedicated account managers, implementation support, and ad ops engineers. This, in turn, reduces the development complexity for publishers. If you want to connect with a trusted provider who offers reliable header bidding solutions, contact us

What is the Role of a Wrapper in Header Bidding?

A header bidding wrapper works as a container that holds the adapters, allowing publishers to manage multiple ad partners in a unified way. When a user visits a publisher’s website, the wrapper communicates with multiple ad networks and SSPs through the adapters and sends a request for bids. 

The bidding requests are sent to all simultaneously rather than sequentially, as in the traditional ‘waterfall’ method. Let’s look at the process briefly: 

  1. A user visits the publisher’s website. The webpage responds with the page’s content and calls the header bidding wrapper.
  2. The wrapper pauses the ad server’s tag (GPT) and sends an asynchronous call to all SSPs connected to the wrapper based on the configuration.
  3. The demand partners get the bid responses from their respective demand-side platforms (DSPs) and return them to the header bidding wrapper. The wrapper waits for a certain period (say 3s) based on the universal timeout.
  4. The wrapper selects the demand partner with the highest bid and passes the bid (along with the ad creative) to the ad server via a key value. It can also send all the bids to the server and let the ad server decide the winner. Publishers tend to go with the latter as it helps in reporting.

After that, the ad server compares the bid price of the demand partner with other non-guaranteed deals and guaranteed deals and delivers the ad creative of whoever has the highest bid.

Benefits of Header Bidding Wrapper

  1. Unbiased auctions: Providing equal opportunity to all demand partners to bid. It can do so by randomizing the order of calling the demand partners. 
  2. Easy demand management: A wrapper can have multiple adapters and help you integrate them seamlessly. With a wrapper, you can easily add a new demand partner or remove/replace the existing one without changing the code of the individual demand partner on your webpage. 
  3. Asynchronous auction: As a wrapper calls all the demand partners simultaneously, it creates a unified auction environment where the users don’t have to wait for ads to load for the website’s content to load.
  4. Ability to set universal timeout: It is one of the primary benefits of a header bidding wrapper. Setting a universal timeout for all demand partners forces them to return the bid in the given period and removes the partners who return the bids slowly. As a result, it reduces latency and better user experience.
  5. Integrated analytics: A header bidding wrapper has real-time reporting capabilities. Not only can you measure performance metrics of demand partners, e.g., win rate, bid rate, timeout rate, etc., but you can also measure and monitor yield, e.g., CPM, ad revenue, and more.

Challenges of Header Bidding Wrapper

  1. Implementation and optimization challenges: While managed wrapper solutions can help you reduce the technical complexity, if you opt for the open-source wrapper, you might need days to understand the workflow of the wrapper and set it up on your website/GAM.
  2. Lack of technical expertise: Due to its complex nature, if the wrapper is not appropriately configured, it can severely affect the page loading speed and the performance of demand partners—consequently, the loss of ad revenue.

Wrapping Up the Wrapper

A header bidding wrapper provides publishers with a unified, centralized way to manage their header bidding partners. It also handles the auction mechanics, prioritizes bidders, and effectively manages consent. 

Without it, publishers will have to manage all these things separately, which can lead to several issues and make it harder to optimize revenue potential. Hence, using the best header bidding wrapper solution is essential to streamline the auction and improve performance.  


  1. What is header bidding?

Header bidding, also known as “advance bidding” or “pre-bidding”, is a programmatic advertising technology publishers use to increase the yield on their ad inventory. With header bidding, a publisher places a piece of JavaScript code in the header of their website. This code allows multiple demand sources to bid on the inventory simultaneously before the ad server decides which ad to serve.

  1. What is a header bidding wrapper?

A header bidding wrapper is a container or framework that allows publishers to manage multiple demand sources through a single line of code. It allows multiple ad networks and SSPs to bid on inventory simultaneously and provides a unified reporting structure for the publisher.

  1. Why do publishers use header bidding wrappers?

Publishers use header bidding wrappers to increase the yield on their inventory by allowing multiple demand sources to bid simultaneously. This can lead to higher CPMs and better fill rates for the publisher.

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