Header bidding has become the norm in programmatic selling and buying. Implementing the technique on the website can help you bring in more ad revenue with greater transparency. But that’s not the whole picture.
At first, you might think that implementing a header bidding setup would be enough to take your programmatic advertising to the next level. The truth is: header bidding is not a one size fits all situation. You need to do much more if you want to improve your ad revenue.
In this article, we’ll explain how to set up header bidding effectively to optimize eCPMs and page loading speed. Before we dive into the details, let’s look at how to measure the performance of your header bidding set-up.
Table of Contents
- How to measure the performance of your header bidding set-up?
- Reasons behind low eCPMs in header bidding
- How to optimize your header bidding set-up?
- How to test your header bidding set-up?
- What’s next?
How to measure the performance of your header bidding set-up?
As we mentioned earlier, not all header bidding integrations are the same, and not all will have the same performance characteristics. In order to get the most from your header bidding setup and know-how well implementation is performing, you need to have the proper data. Let’s dive into a few tools and metrics you can use to help understand how your header bidding performs.
Header bidding Chrome extensions
When you are dealing with a high volume of ad impressions, it is important to have a way to monitor what is really happening in the background. MyAdPrice Chrome extension can help to refine your header bidding strategy by gaining better insight into how the ad partners work. In particular, it will help you understand:
- The bid price returned by the SSPs/ad exchanges for each ad slot on the webpage
- The winner of the auction and how much they bid to win it
- The ad revenue is generated from users. You’ll be able to compare the revenue generated for one visitor with another
- The time taken by the ad partners to respond in the auctions.
Headerbid Expert was designed to be used by publishers to determine who the best demand partner is and the ones who aren’t responding back within the specified timeout limit. Here are a few things that you can understand with this plugin:
- The latency caused by each demand partner
- Whether they are loading asynchronously and if they are blocking the webpage to load
- Whether all the demand partners loaded simultaneously
The BidFilter plugin helps you assess the header bidding setup by understanding:
- How much the winning partner bid and the winning ad slot
- How much time the demand partners (whether they won or lost) took to return the bids
- List of demand partners that chose not to bid or either timed out
To predict the best header bidding extension, test them out. There are many extensions available in the market, but only a few can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Headerbid Expert. MyAdPrice, and BidFilter.
We have tested a few more extensions and tools and shared our experiences and insights for you to follow when it comes to choosing a header bidder extension. You can find it here.
Third-party Header bidding analytics providers
Leveraging free extensions from Google Chrome is only one piece of measuring the success of your header bidding implementation. They give you valuable insights into demand partners (SSPs/ad exchanges).
But they don’t help in creating the complete picture. In the world of header bidding, timeout rates and eCPM are heavily discussed but the reality is that there is a lot more to analyze than just these two metrics. You need to check the win rate, ad fill rate, bid rate, and more to get a complete picture of how your header bidding campaigns are performing. This is where a third-party header bidding analytics provider comes in.
An analytics provider will handle most of the heavy lifting for you, as well as provide in-depth insights. We’ve covered the most popular header bidding analytics providers in this blog post. These, of course, come at a cost.
Additional note: In case, you use Google Ad Manager reports to understand the behavior of SSPs that are participating in header auctions, ensure that there’s no discrepancy between your header bidding partners analytics and Ad Manager reports. An inaccurate report can cause you to make wrong decisions while optimizing your setup. Here’s an article that will help you understand how to reduce discrepancies between the two reports.
Reasons behind low eCPM in header bidding
Now that you have got all the data, how well is your header bidding performing? If everything is well and the implementation is flawless, then you are on the right track. If the set-up is not producing the desired results, the question in your mind should be why.
The next step should be to understand the reasons behind the poor performance of header bidding. Once you know the shortcomings of our header bidding solution, you can now focus on improving. There are several factors that can impact the header bidding setup and which you’ll need to take into consideration. Let’s discuss them one by one.
- Price floor set-up: A lot of publishers have price floors (the minimum amount they’re willing to accept for a single ad impression) on their display inventory. But the biggest lie publishers tell themselves is that setting up higher price floors will result in higher revenue. While a publisher can take advantage of this in the short term, there will be fewer buyers that will want to buy inventory at higher price floors in the long term. As a result, the ad fill rate may reduce and overall revenue may go down.
- Bidding partners’ sequence: What’s more important than winning the auction? Creating a fair environment for all the demand partners. If bid requests are sent each time in a sequence but the order of the bidders does not change, the last bidder will have the least amount of time to respond. This means that by the time all other bids are received the last bidder’s response may be too late to matter.
- Demand partner’s performance: A key benefit of header bidding is the idea that it drives up competition and prices for every impression in the auction. It is great because it allows you to have more demand partners vying for your inventory in real-time. But if they don’t have a high bid rate and win rate, then it might not make sense to have such partners. Needless to say, adding every demand partner to your header bidding wrapper causes at least some increase in the loading speed of the website.
Are these the only factors behind low eCPMs? The answer is no! In fact, there are a lot of factors that affect the header bidding. Some of them are improper implementation of ad refresh, poor ad targeting, low users’ consent rate, and so on. We’ve discussed all the factors in this article.
Said that, just like any other technology, header bidding isn’t always rainbows and gumdrops. You have to continuously monitor the setup and optimize for better results.
How to optimize Header Bidding setup to increase ad revenue?
When it comes to increasing your eCPMs through header bidding, here’re a few tips that work magic for the publishers:
- Have an ideal number of demand partners: All in all, we suggest you add more than 4 demand partners but keep the number below 7 when you’re running client-side header bidding.
- Define the optimal timeouts for demand partners: In header bidding, each demand partner gets an amount of time to respond to each bid request. This is typically called the timeout. The longer they take to respond, the longer the page has to wait for the ad. Therefore, set an optimal timeout in the wrapper.
- Shuffle the order of demand partners: In order to create a fair auction environment, randomize the order bidders’ call for each impression and ensure that no demand partner faces the disadvantage of bidding last more often than others.
- Pay close attention to user experience: Providing a good user experience on your website is of prime importance. Adopt the best policies for displaying ads, reduce page latency, and deliver the best ad sizes to improve the user experience.
While these are the quick tips that can help you optimize the setup and increase revenue, you can read more about the strategies to deal with low eCPMs in header bidding in detail here.
How to test your header bidding set-up?
Header bidding testing is extremely important. If you don’t test, you are stuck in the dark about what is really going on. But what should you consider while testing? Where should you start? In general, there are three important things to analyze:
- Your demand partners (SSPs/Ad Exchanges)
- Your Prebid wrapper, and
- Your ad server
Here’s a detailed blog post that will answer all your questions. It is recommended to give some time to the new set-up and start with testing after a few days.
The header bidding technology has gone through a tremendous growth phase in the past few years. No longer just hype, publishers are now relying heavily on it to get maximum yield from their inventory. However, most of the publishers in the industry have deployed header bidding as a mere add-on to their existing stack, and lack proper technical infrastructure to accelerate performance for their advertisers.
For this reason, we have been relentless when it comes to improving header bidding performance for our publishing partners. Not only have we created a wrapper with unique features, but also provide ad-ops support for publishers in order to maximize their ad revenue by implementing various practices.
Interested to know more about us? Or still, struggling with low eCPMs? We’re offering a ‘7-day free consultation’ to limited publishers where we promise to help you optimize your header bidding ad set-up. Reach out to us here.