AOL Adds Header Bidding Wrapper

header-biddingAOL, which has signed more than 100 publishers to its header-bidding solution over the past year, is adding a wrapper so publishers can easily integrate multiple header-bidding partners.

The company, which works with tens of thousands of publishers, will do the integration work for its wrapper clients. (AOL claims it won’t give an advantage to its own demand.)

Conversely, publishers using open-source wrappers like Prebid and Pubfood get more control and transparency, but must do their own development for it to work.

Plus, building a container will make it easier for AOL to facilitate connections between buyers and sellers.

“To me the header is all about scale,” said Matt Gillis, SVP of publisher platforms. “It offers [publishers] newfound volume they didn’t know they could see through us and allows us access at the highest level. We are seeing supply we’ve never had access to in the past.”

AOL’s global sales force can offer unique demand, attracting publishers like CafeMedia and Multiply, which owns Answers.com. Many publishers require differentiated demand to justify putting a partner in their header.

Header bidding is also changing how publishers work with AOL and other demand partners. Publishers test demand sources and swap them out if they don’t work.

“Long gone are the days where you do a one-year contract with a publisher,” Gillis said. “It’s about being an open, tech-agnostic, ecosystem player and earning that publisher’s business every day.”

Because it’s easier to pack a bunch of partners into an ad server than the header, publishers often limit their header-bidding partners.

An AOL survey of 300 publishers found that half of them implemented header bidding, and 75% used five or more partners. Gillis believes AOL has a strong case to be part of that header-bidding set, in part because it offers an alternative to Google.

“If publishers got everything they wanted from one solution, like Google, they never would have implemented header bidding,” Gillis said. “We haven’t heard a lot of publishers saying that’s the direction they want to go. That’s why they are choosing to work with us directly.”

At the moment, AOL said it’s observing Google’s efforts to unify the auction within the ad server, but it hasn’t joined in any tests.

Beyond AOL’s efforts to onboard header bidding/wrapper publishers, it also wants to unify mobile auctions, which Millennial Media vet Gillis sees as the next frontier. “Mobile is an open battlefield, wide open for disruption,” he said.


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