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How ‘new tech’ is changing

programmatic advertising

Headline bidding is probably the hottest topic - other A piece of code put in the header of a page is giving
than the perilous rise of ad blocking software - among publishers an alternative, allowing real-time bidding to
digital advertisers and web publishers at present. There take place first, rather than last, in the auction. Essen-
are many ways in which the standard programmatic ad- tially, it removes he hierarchical system and allows for
vertising could be revamped, and you’d be hard- simultaneously bidding, which ultimately results in a
pressed to find a marketer that considered the system higher yield. CTO of Purch, John Potter, claims that
as effective as it could be. And just as the inefficiencies adding a single header bid source can increase yield by
of programmatic are being properly realized, new tech is as much as 10%. Publishers can also allow the winning
emerging that demands a slightly different approach. bid to compete with the prices of their direct-sold ads,
and Index Exchange’s vice president Steve Sullivan
One of the key issues with programmatic is its ‘waterfall’ says that header bidding can result in ‘up to a 30% lift
sequence. After the direct-sold ads have been assigned in rates.’
ad space, the rest of the site’s space is made available
through an ad server. Ad providers are ranked - with And, on top of increased transparency of inventory val-
metrics like buying volume taken into account when de- ue and a cut down on passbacks, header bidding can
termining the rank - and the unsold inventory is offered undermine Google’s dominance of the ad-buying chain
to each, in turn, until sold. The way in which the ranking made possible by its favoritism of its own ad exchange.
is created means that those that are willing to pay more This means advertisers have the opportunity to bid for
for ad space are not by definition near the top of the the best ad inventory, rather than only the remnant in-
ranking, and space is sold to the most prolific buyers ventory in the waterfall sequence. In response, Google
rather than those that offer the best return. has launched its DoubleClick for Publishers First Look,
allowing programmatic buyers a ‘first look’ at all impres-
Also, Google are in a privileged position in the current sions. The move is a positive one, but still exists within
programmatic ecosystem. Many online publishers will the framework of AdX, where Google holds all the
use Google’s DFP ad server, which has a setting that cards.
allows Google’s Ad Exchange to outbid the winning bid-
der from the ‘waterfall’ process by as little as a cent. Header bidding is not without its drawbacks though.
The current process can skew the data and give pub- Crucially, the coding could lead to latency issues,
lishers a warped idea of exactly what their ad space is something publishers are desperate to avoid. As said
worth, given that those near the top of the waterfall by Yieldbot CEO Jonathan Mendez, ‘the effectiveness
ranking will generally end up underpaying. The model of everything publishers do is predicated on how fast
can ignore high-value inventory, reducing competition they are.’ Additionally, the setup is complicated to im-
and capping a publisher’s ad revenue, a thorn in the plement, necessitating a level of competence to see it
side of yield-obsessed sellers. done correctly. In this case, though, the benefits out-
weigh the pitfalls. Latency is an issue, and implementa-
Adding to programmatic’s problems is the huge rise of tion is tricky, but the potential revenue gains will see
ad blocking software. Globally, usage of ad blockers many publishers unable to resist the change.
grew by 41% in the year Q2 2014 to Q2 2015, and as of
June 2015 there were 198 million monthly active users The Digital Publishing Innovation Summit prides itself
for major browser extensions that block ads. Data from on bringing the right people in to speak to you, to edu-
PageFair and Adobe predicts that 2016 will see a huge cate and to open your minds to the future of this indus-
$41.4 billion lost in online ad revenue as a result of the try, exploring how it will be successful and why it is im-
software, a figure up from $21.8 billion in 2015. And, portant that we continue to push innovation, new tech-
according to eMarketer, over three quarters of US mar- nology and support the old and the new within the pub-
keters polled said that ad blocking will have a negative lishing sphere. ◊
effect on the programmatic advertising ecosystem.
By Sam Geapin,
A potential remedy for these issues is the growth of Global Marketing Director, |
header bidding - also known as pre-bidding, advance Innovation Enterprise
bidding or holistic yield management.

5 MediaBUZZ Pte Ltd - Independant ePublisher for Asia
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