What Is Header Bidding?

Header bidding is the process of auctioning off advertisement space on web pages. Header bidding, also known as pre-bidding, is an advanced bidding alternative to waterfall bidding.

This technique is often preferred by marketers and publishers, as it allows many ad exchanges to bid for space on a website at once. 

How header bidding works

Header bidding is a multistep process that occurs in a matter of seconds. A publisher or web domain owner will have a link that allows advertisers to navigate to an auction, or ad exchange, 

of the page’s ad spot inventory. Ad spot inventory refers to the locations where advertisements can be placed on a web page. Ad networks and advertisers can simultaneously bid for the ad spots desired, where the best bid is connected to the publisher’s server and the ad is displayed on the site. 

Why header bidding is important for marketing

Header bidding allows marketers to place advertisements on web pages that their desired audiences are visiting. This enables an increase in ad reach, specifically with an ideal audience. 

Header bidding also creates transparency between marketers and publishers, as the page data is commonly available. The interactions and impressions data from the page allow marketers to better determine strategies and budgets for header bidding and advertisement campaigns. With the opportunity of increased reach to ideal audiences and a better budget projection, header bidding can help marketers to improve their campaigns and ads. 

Header bidding vs. waterfall bidding

As mentioned above, header bidding is not the only way for a publisher to auction off spots on a website. Waterfall bidding is an alternative approach, and was used before header bidding was created. Header bidding has since become the popular choice and is commonly used. 

Waterfall bidding is a system where ad bidding isn’t simultaneous. Publishers look at bids one at a time without knowing what the other bids are. If a bid is passed over, a publisher can’t return to it. Once a bid is selected, the auction is finished and all other bids are discarded without being revealed. 

Header bidding allows for ads with the best bid to be selected rather than a luck of the draw system. This helps to create a more standardized bidding process for marketers and publishers, as both parties can see what is offered and can come to conclusions easily. It also allows for this process to occur simultaneously, increasing efficiency and saving time.