The Industry Index Header Bidding Roundtable Roundup
Every month, Industry Index gathers MadTech leaders to discuss trends, hot topics, and new technology in the industry. We’ve written recently about Header Bidding (see the exchange shakeup and winners and losers) and that was before we decided to to open it up to some key industry players at our recent Roundtable to sort out where it’s all, er…. Headed.
Here We Go…
Header bidding is not a brand new idea, But from all the chatter, it sure seems like it. Kelvin Pichardo, Director, Product Marketing at PubMatic, thinks the growth is directly related to the functions that header bidding enables, more so than the mechanics behind having a tag in the header. He was kind/smart enough to break it down for us:
The Complexity Is Simple.
Header bidding exposes all inventory to a large cross section of demand simultaneously, and more competition has improved CPMs. But with demand comes
a huge pile of problems additional complexities. Latency, cookie syncing… along with the simple complexity of deploying a header bidding solution.
According to Maggie Neuwald, VP, Enterprise Accounts at MediaMath, “With browser-side, there is a limitation of the number of calls and, due to second price auctions, it isn’t a unified market.” Yes, browser-based solutions afford publishers a significant level of control, but the highest bids don’t always win thanks to inefficiencies found in putting the auction load on users’ browsers.
What’s interesting is the effect that users are unaware they have in header bidding auctions, as calls are originating from their machines. Doug Lauretano, SVP and GM at Media.net stresses that these are individual calls happening to individual demand sources. “We threw out the word latency… browsers weren’t made to operate like this. Browsers were made to show content to users – not to do these complicated AdTech calls. Hence the shift – that’s why server-side is important.”
There Is No “I” in Header Bidding
Header bidding cannot be viewed as a, “set it and forget it philosophy,” offered Michael Hannon, VP, Yield and Revenue Optimization at Purch. There needs to be total transparency when it comes to pageviews, bounce rates, demand sources, DFP, and pulling relic data on a daily basis. There should be a proactive acknowledgment of the responsibility that publishers have in implementing header bidding. Stephanie Layser, Director, Advertising Technology at News Corp stated that, “For too long we have been looking at engineering and page experience separately from advertising, and that’s where we have gotten ourselves into a lot of issues. If we start looking at ourselves – on a daily basis – holistically, and getting our teams working closer together, there will be better communication.”
You Lose, SSPs
The consensus from all participants was that SSPs have lost. It will be more than a challenge as they try to differentiate themselves with the supply amongst publishers looking exactly the same from one to another. First “latency” was a trigger word, then “commodity”… SSPs could have used a safeword…
Layser was the first to be predictive: “There is inefficiency in [browser-based] header bidding. I also believe that once you move to server-side header bidding that the SSP model collapses — but I believe that people will have one partner that will have direct integration with different DSPs. But the question is — people used to use one or two SSPs anyways, so are we just collapsing back to just one SSP? I don’t know exactly what it is. I tend to hope that the future has less to do with getting demand from other people and using their third party demand, and more of it has to do with utilizing publishers first-party demand and the relationship that they have with their users.”
Moderator Jonathon Shaevitz addressed that we cannot have a header bidding conversation without putting Google… (and Whole Foods Amazon) in the middle. The room chattered with recognition, and after a brief pause and some darting eyes across the table, he then noted that Facebook also has to be included to ensure that the conversation stays proactive. More darting eyes. More nodding.
Neuwald stated that when working with a variety of DMPs, there is a loss of data that is related specifically to cross-device, person-based identification… that’s the information of true value. Ahem. Layser added, “The biggest value is the ID, knowing that this is an addressable person. That is the greatest value that they (Google, Amazon, Facebook) can identify and the smaller guys don’t have that as much.”
It seems that the tri-opolies (you read that right) may always be at the forefront of MadTech. This comes up at every single Roundtable, and Layser gets the credit for this field goal: “Everyone’s digital ad growth is 1%, where Google and Facebook is around 40-50%.” Boom goes the dynamite.
I Might Like You Better If We Tech Together…
Data is important, but doesn’t mean anything without cookie matching. Megan Latham, Global Head of Advertising Operations at Bloomberg believes that cookie matching across platforms needs to be addressed and implemented.
Neuwald adds that, “The only limitation is just cookie matching and we see up to 90% matches with our partners… so it’s something that is easily solved. It just requires standards, transparency, trust, and some coopetition (you read that right, too), which this industry is luckily good at. But we need to up the ante on people-based identifiers, and this is a long term strategy.”
By the Numbers
Participants were asked to pick a number, any number, they deemed relevant to the current state of header bidding. Here are the highlights… make sure you give proper attribution as you throw these one-liners out at your 4th of July barbeque:
- “Every 1 second delay in a page load can result in a 7% decline in sales – per second – and 16% decline in consumer experience.” — Maggie Neuwald
- “Marketers who have adopted a full-funnel approach have seen a 532% ROI increase, based on a Forester Economic Impact Study.” — Maggie Neuwald
- “There are between 4-6 million queries per second that some DSPs listen to.” — Ari Paparo
- “When you think that header bidding hit a tipping point about 2 years ago, and the amount of traction it’s gotten, across all forms… it’s really upended an industry in 2 years. Makes you wonder what the next 2 years will look like.” — Doug Lauretano
- “On average, 385 individual calls are needed to load a single page (of a sample of about 20 different premium publishers’ websites.) That includes images, text… everything.” Doug Lauretano
- “13% of impressions go to the private auction space. This needs to grow to bridge the gap between the publisher and the buy-side to pull the buyer’s further up the yield curve.” — Matthew Lehman
- “$45.9 billion is predicted to be spent in programmatic display by 2019, and will count for 84% of US display revenue, which shows why there are 636 vendors out there – because the money is being generated and people are jumping on the wagon.” — Megan Latham
We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges…
Our Roundtable was certain about one thing: Header bidding (despite the valiant efforts of the Roundtable) is still complex, and still evolving. We managed to scratch the surface together, but left a few things on the table. One thing that wasn’t addressed: AdWeek recently reported, ”The IAB Tech Lab announced an initial outline for what it’s calling ‘Standard Header Container Integration with an Ad Server,’ a nine-page document from the Header Tag Task Force.” (Emphasis ours.) Seriously… we hope they get uniforms and badges. That’s our prediction, anyway.
The Header Bidding Crystal Ball
Have a Great Summer, Don’t Ever Change…
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