Header Bidding


Header bidding is a programmatic advertising technique used by publishers to offer their ad inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously, prior to calling their ad server. It aims to increase the competition for ad space and allows publishers to potentially gain higher bids and revenue. This process occurs in the website’s header, hence the name ‘header bidding.’


Header Bidding: /ˈhɛdər ˈbɪdɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Header bidding provides a real-time, unified auction platform that allows publishers to receive multiple bids from various demand partners simultaneously.
  2. It increases competition and maximizes revenues by allowing every demand partner to compete for each ad impression, leading to higher CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) and ultimately, greater yield for publishers.
  3. Implementation can be complex and may add latency to page load times, so it requires careful consideration and optimization to balance revenue generation with a positive user experience.


Header bidding is an important technology term in the realm of digital advertising, as it revolutionizes the way publishers manage their advertisement inventory.

By allowing multiple demand sources to compete simultaneously for ad space in a unified auction, header bidding significantly increases transparency, competition, and ad revenues for publishers while providing advertisers with a more accurate view of the available inventory.

This real-time process optimizes ad space allocation, ensures fair pricing, and ultimately enhances the overall performance of digital advertising ecosystems for all parties involved.


Header bidding, a programmatic advertising technique, serves as a valuable method for publishers to optimize their ad revenue. Its primary purpose is to allow multiple advertisers to compete for ad inventory simultaneously, thus leading to higher yields for publishers. By incorporating header bidding, publishers can increase competition for their ad spaces, resulting in higher bids and ultimately maximizing their revenue.

This advanced method provides publishers with a fairer and more transparent means of managing ad prices, allowing them to efficiently allocate ad space to the highest bidder, thereby making the most out of their digital asset. While traditional methods, like the waterfall approach, prioritize certain advertisers based on historical bid data, header bidding democratizes the playing field so that any advertiser can make a winning bid. It functions by having the publisher include a small piece of JavaScript code (header bidding wrapper) in the header of their website; this code enables advertisers to submit their bids before the ad server is called.

As a result, publishers can access multiple demand sources at once and attain a more comprehensive representation of an ad’s true value. Moreover, this holistic approach allows advertisers to expand their reach and target audience to improve campaign performance. In summary, header bidding plays a crucial role in enabling fair competition among advertisers and optimizes publishers’ revenue generation from their online platforms.

Examples of Header Bidding

Amazon Publisher Services’ Transparent Ad Marketplace (TAM): Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace is a cloud-based header bidding solution that brings multiple demand partners into a single auction, enabling advertisers to bid simultaneously on a publisher’s ad inventory. Publishers can tap into Amazon’s extensive demand-side partners to increase competition, resulting in higher revenues and better ad performance. TAM helps publishers reduce latency, optimize revenue, and ensure ad quality by leveraging Amazon’s simple yet robust technology.

Prebid.js by AppNexus:Prebid.js is an open-source header bidding platform created by AppNexus that allows publishers to integrate multiple demand partners directly into their website header. With this, publishers can easily manage demand partners and control auction settings, while advertisers have the opportunity to bid for ad impressions in real-time. Prebid.js fosters transparency and efficiency, enabling publishers to maximize revenue while advertisers benefit from increased inventory access and improved targeting capabilities.

Index Exchange’s Header Tag Wrapper:Index Exchange’s Header Tag Wrapper is a header bidding container that provides publishers with a comprehensive solution to manage multiple demand partners, improve site performance, and increase the value of their ad inventory. The Wrapper allows publishers to add, remove, or adjust demand partners in a single, organized environment, while simultaneously streamlining communication between the header and ad server. By offering increased transparency, control, and yield, Index Exchange’s Header Tag Wrapper exemplifies how header bidding can boost publisher revenue in the digital advertising ecosystem.

Header Bidding FAQ

What is header bidding?

Header bidding is an advanced programmatic advertising technique that allows multiple demand sources to simultaneously compete for ad inventory in a single auction. It ensures fair and transparent competition, helping website owners to maximize their ad revenue.

Why should publishers use header bidding?

Header bidding provides several benefits to publishers, including increased revenue, improved fill rates, greater transparency, and more control over their ad inventory. It allows publishers to connect with multiple demand partners simultaneously to access a broader pool of potential buyers, resulting in higher bid competition and better prices for inventory.

What are the differences between header bidding and waterfalling?

Waterfalling is a traditional ad bidding process where publishers offer their ad inventory to one demand source at a time, starting with the highest paying source and moving downward until an ad is served. Header bidding, on the other hand, allows multiple demand sources to bid simultaneously, ensuring a faster and more efficient ad serving process. The main benefit of header bidding over waterfalling is that it reduces the likelihood of unsold inventory and increases potential ad revenue for the publisher.

How does header bidding impact page load times?

Header bidding can potentially impact page load times by adding additional JavaScript to a site and making multiple bid requests simultaneously. However, this impact can be minimized by using asynchronous scripts, implementing best practices for header bidding setup, and working with header bidding partners that prioritize page speed performance.

What is a wrapper in header bidding?

A wrapper is a JavaScript code used in header bidding to manage multiple header bidding partners through a single unified platform. It simplifies the implementation process, reduces latency issues, and allows publishers to manage their header bidding partners more efficiently.

Related Technology Terms

  • Real-time Bidding (RTB)
  • Waterfall Auction
  • Prebid.js
  • Demand Side Platform (DSP)
  • Supply Side Platform (SSP)

Sources for More Information


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