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Omnichannel header bidding brings better monetization

Some omnichannel publishers have been slow to adopt omnichannel header bidding strategies, but for those who do, the payoff seems worth the effort. This is the key finding of a recent research report by Advertiser Perceptions, The State of Omnichannel Wrapper Solutions: US Market Landscape Study, which includes findings from a survey of US publishers involved in programmatic advertising. Header bidding is now a widely adopted tactic among publishers, with nine in ten implementing solutions for desktop and 84% using header bidding for mobile. However, there is a gap between publishers that have implemented truly omnichannel header bidding, across three or more advertising channels, compared to the publishers who have not.

Publishers that have adopted omnichannel header bidding cite a variety of advantages, particularly improved monetization, improved demand optimization and improved efficiency. The Covid-19 pandemic drove impressive numbers of impressions for many publishers in 2020, but many of those impressions went unfilled or under-monetized because publishers had not optimized their programmatic strategy. For example, many publishers have yet to implement header bidding wrapper technology for OTT and CTV, where a large increase in impressions was particularly dramatic.

Those publishers with omnichannel header bidding are better situated to monetize surges in impressions as well as to optimize demand, allowing them to deliver for their buyers. 

Open Source Solutions Set Publishers Up for the Future

This year, publisher resources are strained as inventory volume and advertiser demand shift. At the same time, they are contending with a variety of privacy regulations and constraints on targeting brought on by Google and Apple. With these factors all in play, and perhaps related to this, publishers reported diminishing resources to devote to implementing omnichannel header bidding. Many of these publishers were also unsure if there would be technical roadblocks relating to format and inventory capabilities.

In fact, many solutions are available to suit a large variety of publisher setups, and the right partner is well versed in implementation, helping where publishers may lack internal bandwidth or expertise. With many publishers now forced to confront a long-term change in advertiser demand for new channels like streaming video and OTT, it’s important to prioritize omnichannel implementation.

The report finds that open source wrappers, such as those built on Prebid, are significantly more popular with omnichannel publishers. Nearly three quarters of omnichannel publishers use open source solutions compared to only 47% of publishers with solutions implemented on just desktop and/or mobile. Omnichannel publishers praised open source solutions for their neutral position in the market and the fact that they are better positioned for widespread adoption and flexibility as cookie-based targeting is replaced with new options.

Flexible Solutions Allow Publishers to Monetize in a Variety of Scenarios

After years of relative stability with desktop — and even mobile — header bidding, publishers find themselves once again contending with uncertainty. Not only with new channels like OTT with new header bidding technologies, but also with a variety of identity solutions that have gained traction that will likely change as cookies go away, and as advertising can no longer rely on Apple’s IDFA. 

In this uncertain landscape, many omnichannel publishers have implemented a hybrid solution to maximize their access to demand and increase their flexibility to accommodate different formats and data. Hybrid setups are most common among omnichannel publishers, and give publishers the control to toggle between client- and server-side setups.

Selecting a knowledgeable vendor that can help smooth the way to having a solution that can accommodate a variety of identity offerings while also maintaining the control and flexibility offered by hybrid header bidding is important to reaping benefits quickly. Publishers note that monetization performance is their top selection criteria — at 82% — but nearly as many noted that a good support team and workflow optimization matter, too, with both coming in at 78%. What’s more, publishers have different needs based on which channel the wrapper would be implemented for. For example, CTV publishers are also focused on broad and unique access to demand, while both in-app and CTV publishers also prioritized finding partners that were open and scalable.

With so much uncertainty, it can be hard to justify committing new resources to technology implementations. However, the improved monetization, improved efficiency, and improved demand optimization many publishers are experiencing can’t be ignored. The opportunity to not only immediately improve monetization but actually be prepared for the changes ahead are pushing publishers to prioritize omnichannel header bidding wrappers.

Susan Wu
Director, Marketing Research at PubMatic

PubMatic’s cloud infrastructure platform for digital advertising empowers app developers and publishers to increase monetization while enabling media buyers to drive return on investment by reaching and engaging their target audiences in brand-safe, premium environments across ad formats and devices. Since 2006, PubMatic has been expanding its owned and operated global infrastructure and continues to cultivate programmatic innovation. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, PubMatic operates 14 offices and eight data centers worldwide.

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