You may have heard of this being referred to as Stack Class. These white-board sessions originated in the early days of Real-Time Bidding (RTB), before the dark times… before The Empire, er.. Header Bidding. Before Header Bidding.
This video is a little dated, but it covers the technical basics of RTB. I’ve been toting it around for years privately. I figured it’s about time to set it free.
I called it Stack Class in the beginning because I was describing all the components of RTB, you know… the stack upon which everything is built. In this video you’ll find SSPs, DSPs, user synchronization (cookies?!%$#@!), bids, responses, PMPs, ad markup… you know, all the things.
Whether you think it’s a fad, a “hack,” the new standard, or the latest shiny object, header bidding has had a significant and disruptive impact on the advertising technology ecosystem. It may only be a matter of time before Luma Partners adds header bidding wrappers as a new box to their (in)famous landscapes.
The promise of header bidding with multiple exchanges has yielded positive results for advertisers and publishers but it has come with a cost that, over time, might be too much to bear. Whether it survives the fray, or evolves into something new, header bidding has changed the game forever.
Header Bidding: The Good
In the movie starring Clint Eastwood, The Good guy is not necessarily altruistic in nature, but he’s really good at capitalizing on opportunities.
Header Bidding brings those opportunities by providing premium inventory into the programmatic marketplace. No longer are the best impressions locked away in the tower of publisher ad servers. They are now accessible via the myriad of sophisticated Seller-Side Platform (SSP), Exchange and Demand-Side Platform (DSP) technologies. This gives sellers more articulate controls over the rules of engagement for every transaction.
Retargeting, made easier by RTB, can now be applied at all inventory priority levels, improving yield for commerce sites. Elusive audiences could be more readily captured by private marketplaces and the open auction, inviting new advertisers to test, refine, and commit to new deals with new partners.
Meanwhile, demand side systems are given the opportunity to bring more premium buying contracts to their platforms. This could be why some publishers started seeing higher revenue with header bidding in play. During Advertising Week in New York, one publisher cited header bidding as being responsible for 50% lift in CPMs. These types of statistics have been echoed by several others in the industry. While this might not be the panacea that saves the online newspaper, it certainly helps keep a few more lights on. Next: The Bad
I assumed that before bidding, DSPs could not be sure whether an SSP applies floor price rules to an auction. Now, I saw some remarks in the academic literature implying that buyers know about the existence or even the exact quantity of floor prices.
The answer is: sometimes. Exchanges sometimes express floor or bid guidance in the bid request. This is not required for the market to operate; so many exchanges do not provide any guidance. Floors are almost always in play. In most cases they are dependent on a wide variety of variables including: the site, browser, device, day of week, time of day, audience data, user’s language, and geographic location of the user.
Floor prices, from an academic standpoint, are there to protect the base value the publisher has placed on the inventory. Bids falling below the floor, or reserve, are usually rejected by the exchange. Losing bid information might be recorded to give the publisher insight on the value advertisers are placing on the inventory and accompanying traffic. Next: Price Floor Discovery
In a pure auction, the highest bid should always win. In many cases an RTB auction ends with this result, but not always. There are two or three things that will adjust the auction mechanics to give a lower bidder the impression. Most of the time a modified auction is at the behest of the publisher. Read more
The marketing department at Signal asked several people at the company to make digital advertising predictions for 2015. With their blessing, I’m publishing my predictions right here. I also added a couple of additional topics at the bottom.
2015 will be a big year for IPOs and consolidation. Startups will form in nascent categories, but not so much in established ones. Luma will produce a new set of Lumascapes to accommodate the rise of new categories. This is hardly a shocking prediction.
Cross-channel will be the rule in 2015. Companies with a single channel solution will be the exception (and the Dodo).
We’ll see the rise of the Meta-DSP where Agency systems will be plugging into DSP stacks via APIs. Smarter systems will be able to segment users across DSP buying systems and regain control of Frequency and Reach.
Native Normalization: Native ads will begin to follow responsive design techniques. “Standardized Native Ads” will become the biggest oxymoron of 2015. Native ad specifications are already working their way into the OpenRTB API Specification. The road to standardization is very short from that point on. Read more
The death penalty provides a level of certainty that a jury, no matter how convinced, cannot possibly match. It's expensive, offers no chance of commutation, and is tantamount to murder by the state when applied to a person later exonerated.