In the world of digital advertising, header bidding hit superstar status in the last year or so.
But a new report from New York City-based ad tech firm GetIntent — out this week — indicates that header bidding is not as popular among one group of leading publishers as you might think. And it shows that the open source Prebid.js is not the leading solution among those sites.
Header bidding places some code in a website’s page header to offer site inventory to advertising bidders at the same time. The winning bid then competes with the site’s own direct-sold ads, with the aim of getting the highest price for the space. In some cases, publishers are conducting the auction using server-to-server connections instead of the more popular client-side (browser) implementation.
It was developed as an alternative to the common waterfall auction conducted by Google’s DoubleClick, where the inventory goes from one bid to another until an acceptable price is found. But, in DoubleClick’s popular implementation, its Ad Exchange Service (AdX) gets a preferential position in the auction, which keeps publishers from getting the highest price.
If you listen to the buzz, you would think that almost every major publisher is climbing aboard the header bidding wagon. Ad firm AppNexus said last year that its research indicates 70 percent of the Comscore Top 200 publishers are using header bidding wrappers.
But, to check that and similar estimates, GetIntent wrote some software to scrape header bidding info from websites. They chose the top 1,000 websites as listed in the Amazon-owned site traffic tracker Alexa (alexa.com).
Surprisingly, they found that only about 12 percent of the Alexa top 1,000 websites — 121 sites — are using header bidding.