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Header Bidding Wrappers – Everything You Need to Know

Header Bidding Wrapper
Now that you know header bidding, let's look at the wrappers. Without them, you wouldn't be able to implement and manage header auctions.

Though header bidding has been here for a while, beginners might find the involved terminologies a bit difficult to understand at first (no surprise here. Its adtech!). We’ve already talked about the process and the basics in our extensive post on header bidding. But publishers tend to overlook the importance of header bidding wrapper and yes, there’s more to it than we think. So, in this article, we’re going to uncover everything about header bidding wrapper technology and see how it helps you run efficient header auctions.

Table of Contents

What is Header Bidding Wrapper?

A header bidding wrapper is a container that helps you a) run header auctions by sending requests to the demand partners and procuring the bids from them and b) define rules so that you can ensure that the auctions are efficient. The rules can be when should the auction start, how many bidders will participate in the auction, how long should the auction wait for the bids (timeout), floor prices, and so on.

The wrapper also lets you include several modules (for instance, you need to collect users’ consents and pass it to the bidders — having a wrapper means you can do it without dealing with the unnecessary technical complexities and errors) and makes it easier for publishers to use analytics. Types of Header Bidding Wrapper

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 solution. Let’s understand each of them one by one:

Open-source Header Bidding Wrappers

The most popular wrapper used for header bidding is the free and open-source solutions — Prebid and PubFood. The adoption rate of Pubfood is very little (~0.20%).

Codebase Used By Client-Side Wrappers


On the other hand, 62.2% of publishers have implemented Prebid Wrapper that enables publishers to set-up the demand partners and run header auctions themselves for display and video ad inventories. It can support more than 150+ demand partners, 15+ analytics providers, and offer various other complimentary services.

But there are complications that you cannot ignore if you’re an independent publisher or with limited technical support. For example, you’ll have to add the codes and manage the complete set-up by yourself. Partnering with demand partners is far from easy, especially if you don’t have tens of millions of PVs.

Proprietary Wrapper Solutions

As the name implies, these wrappers are proprietary technologies from adtech platforms. Typically, a proprietary wrapper solution is offered by the top SSPs and ad exchanges such as Index Exchange. In this type of solution, the ad-tech partner leverages its own in-built proprietary code to facilitate header auctions. 

But publishers don’t prefer proprietary wrappers as they offer less transparency and the wrappers make sense for enterprise publishers On top of it, there are concerns regarding SSPs offering proprietary wrappers that may prioritize their own exchanges. One recent example is the 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 get to have complete transparency and added benefits depending on the provider (Some may provide complimentary ad products, unified dashboard, etc).

Apparently, managed wrapper solutions also provide dedicated account managers, implementation support, and ad ops engineers, this, in turn, reduces the development complexity for publishers. 

A Programmatic Header Bidding wrappers can be categorized into client-side wrappers and server-side wrappers — based on the implementation. That is client-side header bidding and server-side header bidding. Here’s an article that will help you to understand the difference between the two.

All types of wrappers — Open-source, proprietary, and managed can be used to run header auctions on both the client-side (users’ browsers) and the server-side. 

What is the role of a wrapper in header bidding?

A header bidding wrapper acts as an asynchronous container and triggers the bid requests to all demand partners at the same time. It pauses the ad server tag and sets a universal timeout, and helps you manage the demand partners. Below is the simplified workflow of the header bidding wrapper:

  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 back to the header bidding wrapper. The wrapper waits for a certain period of time (say 3s) based on the universal timeout.
  4. The wrapper selects the demand partner with the highest bid and passes the bid (along with 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 line items 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 at the same time, it creates a unified auction environment where the users don’t have to wait for ads to load in order 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 time period and removes the partners who return the bids slowly. As a result, reduced 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 configured properly, it can severely affect the page loading speed and the performance of demand partners. Consequently, the loss of ad revenue.

Automatad’s Header Bidding Wrapper Solution

With Automatad’s managed wrapper solution, you can run header auctions on the client-side (browser) as well as the server-side by integrating a single piece of JavaScript code. Our wrapper comes with top demand partners (such as OpenX, PubMatic, AppNexus, and Rubicon Project) and ensures that the auction happens without any latency. 

In a nutshell, our wrapper can help you:

  • Integrate multiple demand partners and maximize the ad revenue across guaranteed and non-guaranteed channels.
  • Optimize the page speed while running header auctions via the client-side wrapper. Gain insights into the performance of demand partners and ads on the website.
  • And, more. We’ve talked about what our header bidding wrapper can do in a separate post here.

And guess what, you can also integrate our wrapper to your AMP pages to monetize the AMP ad inventories. Have any questions? Drop us a comment below or get in touch with us today.

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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1 Comment
  • September 22, 2021 at 10:03 am
    Neelakandan V

    My all time favorite website to know more about header bidding and I used to refer the content always.

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