MediaPost: AppNexus Sees Hybrid Server-Side Header Bidding Approach Most Viable

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Some ad-tech firms have offered up their server-to-server header bidding solutions in recent months. While server-side header bidding is one approach to current conditions in which publishers find their Web pages bloated with tags, bits of code, and widgets, it comes with its own challenges.

AppNexus recently published a report on the pros and cons of server-to-server vs. client-side header bidding, dubbed “Is Server-to-Server Header Bidding Right For You?” RTBlog asked Michael Richardson, Director, Product Line Management, at AppNexus, to offer some perspective.

RTBlog: Why did AppNexus decide to address this issue?

Michael Richardson: For all the buzz surrounding server-to-server header bidding, most publishers remain uncertain as to whether they should begin to experiment with it. Many of them are still working to understand how, exactly, it differs from client-side header bidding. We created a guide to clarify the differences,  analyse the pros and cons of each solution, and offer our recommendations for balancing and optimising them.

RTBlog: What are the pain points that publishers face when choosing a header-bidding set-up? 

Richardson: Every publisher has a unique set of circumstances, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for choosing a header bidding set-up. AppNexus believes that the server-to-server solution works best in a hybrid capacity with a traditional header bidding wrapper like prebid.js. The combination of the two capabilities offers publishers the flexibility to maximise cookie matching with their header partners and increase bid density through their server partners, while also managing latency and optimising revenue.

Publishers need to keep up with the latest developments in header bidding technology and fully understand how a customised balance of server-to-server and client-side header bidding can support their KPIs [key performance indicators], so they are well-positioned to succeed in an evolving market.

RTBlog: So what are the key questions that people need to ask before considering server-to-server?

Richardson: First, publishers should ensure they have the level of transparency they were getting with a traditional header bidding solution. When the header bidding JavaScript is implemented on their Webpage, they have full insight and transparency into how an ad was selected and from which demand partner. When the decisioning moves to a partner’s server, they may lose this level of transparency and insight.

Second, a key factor for success in any header bidding solution is having access to a large pool of demand partners. As server-to-server header bidding is newer than traditional client-side header bidding, there may be fewer demand partners available at this time.

Third, when header bidding solutions were done on the publisher’s Web page, cookie matching was easier and more accurate. Publishers should consider that moving the solution from the Web page to a partner’s server makes cookie matching more difficult.

RTBlog: Where is the industry now with respect to use of server-to-server?

Richardson: We believe server-to-server solutions will become mainstream this year. Publishers are discovering that client-side scalability has limits and are learning about the trade-offs between server-to-server vs. client-side integrations, including latency and cookie matching. (Continued…)

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