Over the past several years, header bidding has become one of the most popular programmatic advertising techniques used by publishers to generate ad revenue.
When it comes to the technology behind header bidding, there are two primary approaches: server-side and client-side. Client-side header bidding is currently the industry standard used by most publishers, but server-side header bidding has been emerging as a viable alternative.
Both options have their own advantages and disadvantages, making the server-side vs client-side header bidding debate a popular topic among monetization professionals.
But there is also a third option – hybrid header bidding – which combines the advantages of client-side and server-side header bidding and generates on average 18% more in revenue for publishers.
This article explains the pros and cons of client-side and server-side header bidding, and how it’s possible to get the best of both worlds with hybrid header bidding.
What is Client-Side Header Bidding?
Client-side header bidding is when the bidding occurs on the user’s web browser.
What is Server-Side Header Bidding?
Server-side bidding is when the bidding occurs on an external server.
In this case, publishers host their ad inventory on an external server and make it available to demand partners through an API. So rather than the auction occurring on the user’s browser, the entire process occurs on an external server.
Client-Side Header Bidding: Pros
- Cookie matching: As the bidding occurs on the user’s browser, advertisers have access to the browser cookies that allow them to run more personalized ads, which can result in higher CPMs.
- Transparency: Client-side header bidding allows for more transparency since all of the calls are made directly from the user’s browser. This makes it easier to track where each bid is coming from and how each auction is being conducted.
- Customization: Because the process occurs on the user’s browser and not on an external server, publishers have the ability to manage the demand partners or tweak the code if needed. However, to do this publishers need a skilled professional with programming knowledge.
Client-Side Header Bidding: Cons
- Slower page loading: As the entire process occurs on the user’s web browser, the page loads slower due to increased latency, which can negatively impact user experience and lead to decreased traffic. This can be critical if your page features video ad units which demand a large amount of processing power.
- Fewer bids: Browsers are limited in the amount of network connections they can establish, which restricts the number of bids made in the auction.
- Browser compatibility: Not all browsers are created equal, and if the user’s browser isn’t up-to-date or compatible with the code, the ad revenue will suffer.
Server-Side Header Bidding: Pros
- Faster page load times: Since all of the calls are made on an external server, the process doesn’t slow down page load time for users. This is especially useful for video ad units and can help improve UX and increase page traffic.
- More bids: Moving the auction process onto a server allows for an unlimited number of SSPs, ad exchanges, and ad networks to participate in the auction, which drives competition.
- Easier to implement and manage: Because the inventory is hosted on a server, there’s no need to make changes to the website’s code, which can be complex and time-consuming.
Server-Side Header Bidding: Cons
- Harder to tailor ads to users: Without access to browser cookies advertisers have a harder time identifying the users, which can lead to lower CPMs.
- Lack of transparency: When the auction process occurs on an external server, publishers are limited in their access to the bidding data.
- Hosting costs: Hosting the server requires an additional cost.
Hybrid Header Bidding
True to its name, hybrid header bidding utilizes both the client-side and server-side technologies, taking advantage of the best attributes of each method.
The hybrid method sends calls to both the user’s browser and an external server, and then picks the winning bid from both auctions. This means that advertisers still have the ability to bid based on a user’s cookies from the client side, while enjoying the speed and increased bids from the server side.
This results in increased fill rates and higher CPMs, as there is more advertiser competition and faster loading times without the loss of user data.
How Can I Implement Hybrid Header Bidding on My Website?
Hybrid header bidding is a new method that requires a deep understanding of the technical process, so it’s advisable to seek assistance from an experienced monetization expert.
Adnimation’s experts are pioneers in the development of hybrid header bidding technology. Contact our team today for a free consultation.