IX Perspectives

Video Header Bidding Does Work and Is Happening Today

It’s not surprising that a shadow of doubt has been cast upon video header bidding in recent days. Historically, new innovations and new ideas cause skeptics to raise concerns about changing current practices – just think of what the horses thought of Ford! This concept couldn’t be more true than in the programmatic world. Header bidding for display originally had many detractors, but it was proven that it could deliver more revenue for publishers in a more transparent manner.

The video ecosystem presents its own unique challenges. Video platforms handle everything from inventory forecasting to managing competitive separation issues between brand advertisers. Because they often bundle their offering with video content management systems (vCMS), they are helping to ensure video files and implementations are more easily integrated. These players power publishers’ entire video solutions – not just programmatic solutions – and are continuing to innovate. They’re an invaluable part of the proliferation of video.

With the onset of video header bidding, the way video platforms are currently filling orders will inevitably change. But this is just a piece of the entire pie they handle. While the pricing and fulfillment part of their business is shifting, they will have to decide how they want to participate in this disruption. And we’re firm believers that as an innovative ecosystem, everyone should embrace change.

Today, Index has live video header bidding installations on 11 media companies across the U.S., Canada and EMEA regions. These media companies are running a significant amount of transactional video through our exchange on video in the header, and early results are promising. Header bidding creates an adjacency to the media seller’s ad stack and does not change its behavior —  it sits adjacent to a video player. The concerns levied today in the trades against video header bidding are the same concerns that were tabled when header bidding for display started trending:

Data: Concerns around data have been around since the dawn of programmatic. There’s no denying that data is being shared; this is the basic premise of programmatic. Fair players have strict data protection practices in place, and only trade with partners and platforms they trust. These were built from many conversations that have occurred throughout every piece of the evolution of programmatic and have been tested against the sternest objections from publisher direct sales teams. For publishers in video today that trade programmatically, the data overlay is identical to video header bidding, since these impressions are already being broadcasted to DSPs. The mechanics of video header bidding are no different than a traditional video SSP configuration today.

Latency: On the latency front, it’s clear that video ads take longer to load than display ads – this is a fact. A large portion of this latency is driven by the use of highly latent waterfall style implementations where video players crawl VAST requests until getting a successful response from a partner. This can cause 10 or more layers of redirects, secondary requests and or VAST Wrapper responses. Header bidding enables parallel requests and removes these layers, meaning if all transactions moved into a header framework, we would actually end up massively improving latency.

Transparency: It’s important to remember that header bidding has changed the paradigm of control, whereby today publishers control and operate their own markets. Vendors can now participate in these markets, in a fully upfront, transparent capacity. Effectively, the supply chain in programmatic now represents a new world order. The industry landscape has shifted and incumbents will continue to fight the tide. We will continue to push on, as publishers now expect it.

Adding greater choice for media companies will only better the industry, and new tools like video header bidding can help media companies discover the true price of their inventory. We should work together to ensure the window for innovation around video stays open.

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