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Digiday: Why Google won’t kill off header bidding

Programmatic integrations rarely die swiftly.

Last April, Google sparked a wave ofheader bidding is deadheadlines after it was revealed by AdExchanger that the company was developing a server-side product. But since then, the marketplace for server-side products has become more competitive and more publishers have continued to adopt header bidding. Sources say they are closely monitoring Google’s next moves, but they are also skeptical of claims that the web giant’s upcoming product means the end of header bidding.

“I doubt [Google’s exchange bidding] will kill header bidding outright, especially now that most of the partners are working on server-to-server solutions,” said Marco Samuel, IBT Media programmatic manager.

Google’s server-side product, which it calls exchange bidding, is still in pilot and the company declined to share when the product might come to market or share specific statistics or test results. But a spokesperson said that since April, Google has quadrupled its number of publisher partners and doubled its number of exchange partners in the pilot. And since partnering with Smaato in November, the company has added two more mobile exchanges — Yieldmo and MobFox — to the program.

While sources agreed that Google’s exchange bidding could have a big impact on publishers, they emphasized that Google’s grip on the marketplace isn’t quite as tight now as it appeared in April. Since April, the market became more competitive as several companies — including Amazon, AppNexus, bRealTime, Yieldbot and Index Exchange — put together their own server-side integrations. With a competitive market, it’s unclear which solutions will obtain mass adoption.

“It’s a race to see who will first develop the scalable server connections and SSP-like tools that help publishers,” said a publishing exec requesting anonymity. “Google and Amazon have the server connections, but not the tools. The vendors have the tools but not the server connections. So the question is, can Google or Amazon develop a good publisher product before vendors can build server connections?”

Another publishing exec acknowledged that Google will have an advantage over other providers because its DoubleClick exchange is ubiquitous; therefore, publishers may see integration with Google’s product as being more seamless than integration with new vendors. But the exec was also skeptical of adopting Google’s server product because “Google will always build for itself and not for its clients,” he said.

But despite the winner-takes-all narrative that reporters can slip into when writing about platforms, if browser-based header bidding is to die, its death may come at the hands of collaboration rather than monopolistic or oligopolistic dominance.

Read More at Digiday

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