Header Bidding Update 2018

What’s the Outlook for Web, Mobile App and Video?

About This Report
Header bidding, a specific programmatic advertising setup that grants ad buyers greater access to publisher inventory, is reaching maturity on the web. What does that mean? And will header come to video and in-app environments? Read on.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Header bidding, a specific implementation of programmatic advertising that allows ad buyers greater access to publisher inventory—even inventory once set aside for direct advertisers—is making it easier for ad buyers to access premium ad inventory. For publishers, granting such access is leading to higher CPMs.

Has header bidding reached maturity on the web?

Yes, more or less. More than half of US web publishers have adopted header bidding, and experts indicate header CPMs are beginning to stabilize. Growth will only continue when more buyers get used to first-priced auctions and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Which header bidding setups are publishers using today?

Publishers have three main ways to enable header bidding—as a standalone integration into their webpages, as a client-side wrapper (where one header-bidding partner acts as the container to house all others) or server-to-server (where the header auction happens off-browser and is instead passed from a single header partner’s server to the publisher’s ad server). Today, the greatest portion of publishers rely on client-side wrappers alone, or client-side wrappers plus another integration type.

How is header bidding affecting programmatic advertising?

In the past 12 months, header bidding has sparked interest in supply path optimization (SPO), which is a practice whereby ad buyers weed out unnecessary intermediaries in the supply chain. Now, many sell-side parties are looking to do optimizations of their own via demand path optimization. Header bidding has also introduced nuances to programmatic auctions that buyers must understand and be able to identify. Otherwise, they run the risk of doling out more dollars than necessary.

Will header bidding make it into video and apps, like everyone expects?

Most see a future where header bidding accounts for a greater share of app inventory. Today, difficulties with server-to-server setups and software development kit (SDK) integrations keep in-app header bidding at bay. Technical limitations also make it difficult to enable header bidding for video ads; however, today’s advertising economics don’t necessarily emphasize the value of header bidding for video ads, either.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report looks at the latest trends surrounding header bidding and answers core questions about header bidding’s future in the next 12 to 24 months.

KEY STAT: The lion’s share of header-bidding impressions worldwide still occur within desktop, not mobile devices, according to H1 2018 data from PubMatic.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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11expert perspectives

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Header Bidding Today
  3. How Header Bidding Works
  4. Has Header Bidding Reached Maturity on the Web?
  1. Which Header Bidding Setups Are the Most Common?
  2. How Is Header Bidding Affecting Programmatic Advertising?
  3. Will Header Make It to Apps and Video?
  4. Key Takeaways
  1. Insider Intelligence Interviews
  2. Read Next
  3. Sources
  4. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Eric Berry
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed August 14, 2018
Matt Prohaska
Prohaska Consulting
CEO, Principal
Interviewed July 26, 2018
Erik Requidan
Vice President, Sales and Programmatic Strategy
Interviewed April 2, 2018
Adam Soroca
Rubicon Project
Head, Global Buyer Team
Interviewed September 6, 2018
Tim Sims
The Trade Desk
Senior Vice President, Inventory Partnerships
Interviewed June 13, 2018
Amanda Betsold
Vice President, Head of Programmatic
Interviewed July 31, 2018
Shailin Dhar
Method Media Intelligence
Founder, CEO
Interviewed September 13, 2018
Anne Frisbie
Senior Vice President, Global Brand and Programmatic
Interviewed August 9, 2018
Jay Friedman
Goodway Group
Interviewed July 31, 2018
Mike Kissberth
Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed June 8, 2018
Chip Schenck
Meredith Corporation
Senior Vice President, Data and Programmatic Solutions
Interviewed August 3, 2018


Lauren Fisher


Ross Benes
Paul Briggs
Senior Analyst
Caroline Cakebread
Junior Analyst
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Tracy Tang
Senior Researcher