In the last year and a half, yet another new tech terminology has popped up in digital advertising, as platforms try to fix and enhance some of the wonkier off-shoots that programmatic has wrought.

In “header bidding”, rather than publishers entertain bids from multiple bidding sources in a “waterfall” sequence, they can see them all at once, and decide on the best price quickly.

But the technology is both good and bad news, says The Trade Desk chief client officer Brian Stempeck, concluding that header bidding is a net benefit…

The duplication challenge

“It used to be that you might see one impression, one time from an SSP – (for example), The New York Times selling through Rubicon; an impression comes in.

Well, (now) The New York Times might have a header implementation with a bunch of SSPs – OpenX, Index, Google. So, in some cases, we might see the impression more than once, there’s some duplication that’s happening

“So, as a buyer, you have to be a little bit more choosy about ‘Which pipe are you buying from? Which exchange do you want to buy from?’ So, supply path optimisation is a new variable to consider.”

The price payoff

“Five years ago, programmatic was more (about) remnant inventory. Now the publisher is saying, ‘With header bidding, lets open up that whole waterfall programmatically, to let previously-remnant demand compete with my direct-sold demand.

“Some inventory that the New York Times sold directly via insertion order five years ago, we now have a chance to bid on. That’s a good thing.

The trade-off

“It’s a double-edged sword. Costs go up the more impressions you look at – but, if you’re getting better inventory to look at in the first place, we look on that as a good thing.”