How Many Header Bidding Networks To Have On Your Site

Every time a visitor loads your webpage, there’s a digital competition happening behind the scenes. Advertisers from all over the Internet are participating in digital auctions to win ad space on your website.

That’s right—advertisers want visitors on your website to see them, and they are ready and willing to bid for them. The increase in competition from working with multiple ad networks proves to be a profitable move for most publishers. But can incorporating too many header bidding networks become problematic? Let’s explore. 

Header Bidding vs. Other Ad-Methods

Before jumping into how many header bidding networks you can add to your website, it’s important to understand what header bidding is and who has access to these premium demand pools. 

There are three common ways publishers earn with ads. Publishers can join ad networks (like AdSense) and gain access to their offered advertisers. Publishers can also directly sell ad space to agencies (lots of effort required). The preferred method, publishers can join a header bidding provider. It gives publishers access to multiple and many ad networks (less effort required!). 

The lovely increase in revenue from added competition does not occur in every type of ad strategy. This means that depending on how you choose to conduct your ad business directly influences the types and quantity of demand partners you’ll have to work with. If you haven’t guessed already, header bidding is far and away the superior method. 

The Benefits of Header Bidding

Header bidding is a single ad management platform that connects you to a host of different ad networks, and consequently, a vast supply of advertisers.  Now, of course, you want to make money from your website. If that means having as many ad networks as possible fight over your ad space, so be it, right? Wrong. As with everything web-related, you’ll need to consider the impact of having too many header bidding networks on your site. Especially if your website is not ready for a bidding network to begin with. 

The implications of having too many bidding networks could be anything from irrelevant ad content to page abandonment because someone’s ad is too heavy and slowing down your page’s load time. A Google study shows that 53% of mobile users will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. All this said you’ll want to find the sweet spot between visibility and website performance.

But before we find out how many header bidding networks you should have on your site, let’s go over header bidding a bit more in-depth—in case you’re green to the concept.

Header bidding– the solution 

Header bidding is the answer to some of the more problematic features of traditional waterfall auctions. In a waterfall auction, publishers visit ad networks in order of importance and offer them ad space. If the advertiser puts in a bid and it happens to be the highest in a series of bids, then the ad space is theirs. However, this puts other ad networks at a loss since they may never have a chance to bid on a potentially beneficial spot. It shuts out inventory. 

Despite many ad networks moving away from waterfall auction models, the auction process offered still lacks a great deal of transparency. Meaning, if you’re working with a network like AdSense, you may have no control over the bids and prices you get for your units. Scary stuff, right? 

What Header Bidding Can Do For You

In contrast, header bidding happens all at once. You could potentially have five different ad networks bidding a higher price than what would initially be offered in a waterfall auction. The highest bidder wins. With header bidding, you can also control which ad networks you allow into your inventory list, bottom price, and time outs.

Another reason to hop on the header bidding bandwagon is if you have mobile ad space available. Header bidding is making its way into apps, and it is a method optimized for advertisement cost per mile (CPM) or the cost of every one thousand impressions. Impressions are measures of visitor engagement or views.

If you sell an ad for $2 CPM and an advertiser has a $2,000 budget, the ad network can buy two million impressions. That’s some good air time! Called in-app bidding when dealing with apps, it benefits mobile game developers greatly.

Show Me the Money in Header Bidding

Innovations aside, it’s really the money you want to pay attention to when it comes to choosing to switch to header bidding. Going a more traditional route, like waterfall auctioning, can result in a lot of lost ad space inventory and ad revenue. John Potter of CTO Purch—a digital media company—started using header bidding in 2015. At that point, Potter stated that just one header bidding source could increase yield by 10%—and that was six years ago. Nowadays, globally, people are spending over $70 billion on header bidding. 

So long as your header bidding provider can provide you with a competitive stack, you can expect a lot of perks and a boost in ad revenue when deployed. 

Determining Your Number of Header Bidding Networks

The ideal number of header bidding networks you set up on your site depends on how much traffic your website sees, and your provider. So before you start going crazy opening up your inventory to all sorts of networking platforms, check what you have. 

Why traffic matters

Blogging is a huge industry, and it only increases every year. So simply sticking a ‘for rent’ sign on a piece of website real estate won’t get you much. To be attractive to advertisers, you’ll want to market your units as high-inventory – and traffic is the perfect metric to help with that. Another harsh reality is that many ad management platforms and networks have traffic requirements. So if you can’t meet those, you’ll be short on options. 

Why the right partner is crucial 

Part of the reason you’ll need to work with a top-notch ad manager is because of how tricky the tech side of header bidding can be. While this won’t necessarily fall on your shoulders, you need a team that can handle and implement wrappers, ad units, and networks correctly. Otherwise, your revenue will take a serious hit. Working with a lesser capable provider may also mean fewer networks in your stack (and less competition).   

Don’t let poor-quality providers gridlock you. If you have a team of dedicated AdOps experts and are ready to increase your ad revenue, a large network stack is the way to go. 

Less May Be More

When it comes to header bidding as an ad revenue solution, visibility and yield increase are substantial. But nothing that good comes without a catch. When you start your networking journey, really consider what you’re willing to sacrifice in exchange. 

Room for Error

Even though technology has developed wrappers to make handling multiple header bidding networks more manageable, you still have run the risk of error and oversight. This is especially true if you’re not working with a premium provider. As much as we want these container solutions to reduce problems with header bidding networks, they tend to exchange one problem for a different one when not handled well. 

Let’s go back to Prebid. The Prebid wrapper was one of the first open-source container solutions to header bidding, introduced by AppNexus in 2015 and backed by Rubicon (a major ad network) in 2017. Though it has incredible benefits—it’s free to use, speeds up ad server connection, and is always up-to-date—the downsides are frustrating. It slows down your page’s load speed, is complicated to use, and you can’t get on-demand support. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it may take you a good bit of trial-and-error to figure out the proper way to use it. Working with a header provider who can do the heavy lifting is the easiest way to avoid the downsides of poorly deployed wrappers.

The Latency Problem

The Effect Of Page Load Time: Data Sourced From Google Think Study

If you’re one of the lucky ones and run a website with over 50 million visits per month, you could easily justify adding a ton of header bidding networks to your site. You will have to do something about the latency the ads and the network cause, though. Google analyzes a page’s load time—or time to first byte—when running its SEO algorithms. Be prepared to set aside resources for ad optimization; otherwise, you could see a decline in that impressive traffic number.

One study found that:

“About 60% of the total loading time of a page was caused by scripts that place adverts or analyze what users do.”

If you use one network and it is already slowing down your website’s load time, don’t branch out unless you can tackle the latency issue head-on. At Newor, we provide a wide range of solutions to combat latency issues, so you don’t have to prioritize money or traffic. 

We offer software that uses best practices to keep your page load time fast, including minification and compression, asynchronous loading, and optional lazy loading. These are all good keywords to look out for when searching for solutions. Asynchronous loading allows your page’s content to load simultaneously so no one line of script prevents another from loading. Lazy loading is another page load method that only loads content as a visitor interacts with or scrolls through the page. This way, your website isn’t spending time loading things that no one will see right away. Compression reduces the size of Javascript and helps your network respond to requests faster. 

Getting Started With Top Header Bidding Networks

Not all header bidding networks are built equally, but they can be incredibly helpful when you find a good one. You may even find that you can rely on one regardless of web traffic if you have a good experience with them. There are three things you’d want to look for in a network: security; ease of integration; ad optimization (how they address latency issues). If you’re looking to add to your network stack, here are three networks that hit one or more of these qualifications.

1. RhythmOne 

RhythmOne is an example of a heading bidding network gone “big.” As one of the largest networks out there, they can connect Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) to inventory quickly and safely.  They also have several ad formats, including social media, in-app video, and CTV.

2. OpenX

OpenX has been around since 2007 and prides itself on its high-quality advertising platform. They also have a team of Yield Analysts and other ad optimization services so publishers can make their full monetary potential. What really makes OpenX stand out is the network’s anti-fraud and anti-malware security standards, which meet TAG Cyber Security’s security standards. You are responsible for downloading and setting up the OpenX integration. There’s plenty of documentation on their website, but you may want to invest in a developer to do this for you.

3. Index Exchange

IndexExchange is all about the “democratization” of the selling-buying process. Its network works transparently and without bias to give both publishers and advertisers the best experience. Even better, the company’s engineers will take care of software integration and maintenance for you. They even address the latency issue caused by header bidding and use caching to optimize advertisements.

The Newor Solution

At Newor Media, we understand the benefits that come from having a competitive network stack. So we ensure every publisher we work with has access to premium partnerships. We mentioned some top-tier network partners you should consider integrating if you haven’t already. We offer partnerships to them and all other leading industry names. 

Our team of AdOps experts does all the heavy lifting so you can focus on what you do best–blog. We’ll set you up with optimized ad units, integrated networks, and solutions to maintain website quality, speed, and earnings. 

The Bottom Line

When you ultimately decide how many header bidding networks you want to add to your site, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will latency affect my website’s SEO?
  • How much traffic does my website experience every month?
  • Do I have the resources to implement a header bidding network?
  • Do I need a container solution and if so, which one can I trust?

By connecting to more advertisers through different networks, you diversify your revenue possibilities. For a powerful stack, and smooth integration of other networks you may be interested in, connect with one of our dedicated account reps today. 

Bridget George

Senior Account Manager, Publisher Development: Newor Media

Bridget is a dynamic business development and account manager. She has been in the ad tech industry for over 7 years and is known for her ability to drive innovative solutions and foster strategic growth. Passionate about her work, she excels in managing key accounts and ensuring client satisfaction.