Debunking 5 Header Bidding Myths

Header bidding (also known as advance bidding or pre-bidding) is an increasingly popular programmatic advertising technique.

The premise is simple: publishers offer inventory to multiple demand sources simultaneously, increasing the number of bidders for any given piece of inventory and ultimately selling their inventory for a higher price. But what appears straightforward in principle can be extremely complex in practice.

This is why header bidding is still frequently misunderstood. Many publishers struggle with the technical terminology; even amongst experts, there is confusion about how exactly to think about the technique.

This has led to a number of pervasive misconceptions about how header bidding actually works. And in this article, we are going to correct them – to protect our partners from costly errors and ensure they make the most out of this highly effective technique.


  1. The revenue gains Header Bidding produces are small
  2. Integrating Header Bidding is really complicated
  3. Header Bidding requires tons of maintenance
  4. Header Bidding leads to page latency
  5. Header Bidding affects direct campaigns

The Top Five Header Bidding Myths

1. The revenue gains Header Bidding produces are small

Many businesses believe the revenue gains header bidding offers are simply not worth the effort. But this is mistaken for two reasons.

Firstly, most businesses drastically exaggerated the amount of time, money and effort implementing and maintaining header bidding actually entails. But on top of this, many of those businesses simply do not understand quite how big a bottom-line boost header bidding can produce.

By allowing publishers to work with more advertisers – both in terms of number and variety – the technique rapidly increases the bid density and competition in your ad server. Header bidding bids are evaluated against direct campaigns, having the first look across a site’s inventory. And with a greater number of advertisers participating in the auction, publishers will automatically see an increase in both the fill rate and the overall revenue.

Our Header Bidding solution features everything you need to make this happen, including:

  • Exclusive Local and International Campaigns
  • Access to multiple Demand platforms
  • Ad Block recovery
  • AMP Page Monetization
  • Exclusive Native Advertising Campaigns
  • Multi Ad Size Support
  • Sticky Ads recently discovered this first hand, when they implemented Project Agora Header Bidding – and saw an eCPM uplift of more than 28% within the first month!

According to recent research, 80% of publishers using header bidding see revenue gains – and nearly 30% describe those gains as ‘strong’. The reality is that if header bidding isn’t producing exceptional results – it’s usually because it has been set up wrong.

So, does header bidding produce small returns?

Only if you set it up wrong. Done properly, header bidding produces a big revenue boost – and does it quickly.

2. Integrating Header Bidding is really complicated

As a relatively new addition to the ad tech world, header bidding has garnered a reputation for being difficult to implement. And once again, there is a kernel of truth to this.

Creating the initial header bidding configuration and integration can be extremely time-consuming and technically demanding. This produces a further challenge, meaning many businesses find the effort is not worth the rewards.

However, this problem is only relevant to businesses that choose to implement header bidding entirely in-house. Without the requisite expertise, implementation becomes laborious and results may not be seen for a long while. But with a partner like Project Agora, there is actually zero development work required.

We provide a fully deployable solution, offering you access to the most advanced header bidding solution on the market. And because our support team is constantly adding new demand partners and optimizing the solution, you will see results faster – all without any implementation headaches.

Our solution offers numerous vital features, including automated line item creation and health check. With these feature automated, you can eliminate human error and actually save time by using header bidding.

So, is integrating header bidding complicated?

For an in-house team, yes. But not when you find the right partner that speeds up the process and provides all of the maintenance and coding expertise you need.

3. Header Bidding requires tons of maintenance


Many businesses are put off header bidding because they are told it produces a great deal of technical overhead costs to set up – as well as a steep ‘tech tax’ for ongoing in-house maintenance.

And this is true: header bidding is not a set-it-and-forget-it implementation – especially if you want to get the best possible results out of it.

In order to set it up, businesses must add wrapper code to the header section of their website’s HTML code; doing this properly involves a great deal of technical expertise and engineering man-hours.

Header bidding then requires regular upgrades to ensure the configuration is always up to date, as well as constant A/B testing to optimize performance. Some wrapper solutions even require publishers to deploy updated code every time they want to make a change, such as adding or removing partners or ad units.

However, this is only a problem if you are undertaking all of the requisite maintenance in-house. Maintaining a wrapper is actually very easy – as long as you’re working with the right partner. With Project Agora, we provide a dedicated Header Bidding Onboarding team, as well as a Yield Optimization expert team to ensure maximum yield at all times.

Our meta-header bidding solution includes all the maintenance you need, including:

  • Bid Monitoring & Health Checks
  • Time Out Optimization
  • Yield Optimization
  • Analytics Dashboard
  • Constant upgrades and optimizations

Ultimately, we ensure our partners’ Header Bidding set-up is totally future-proof – integrating the latest ad tech innovations and developments, with no effort required from your side.

So, does Header Bidding require a lot of maintenance effort?

In theory, it is certainly a demanding set-up. But the right partner – such as Project Agora – can take away this burden, making header bidding seamless to both integrate and maintain.

4. Header Bidding leads to page latency


User Experience (UX) has always been vital for publishers, but factors such as page latency are increasingly pivotal – since they have recently become a key metric for Search Engine Performance.

For many, this is where header bidding becomes problematic. The technique often involves running auctions directly on the user’s browser, consuming high amounts of bandwidth – and ultimately causing page latency.

But this is not the only way to operate header bidding. If you run it from the Server Side, you can move the auction to external servers, thus totally eliminating any potential latency.

The solution to latency is to execute A/B tests; always running an up-to-date version of prebid.js; and undertaking regular monitoring and optimization. Through a combination of these actions, you can run header bidding seamlessly and still have a very high-performing, user-friendly website.

Of course, this then leads us back to the issue of costly in-house maintenance. In order to run Server Side header bidding, you will unquestionably require an active partner. And once again, our full-stack Header Bidding solution provides the answer.

Project Agora Header Bidding sends out bid requests asynchronously, so that they do not block the page content from loading; all modern browsers prioritize loading the page content over asynchronously JavaScript scripts.

One of our solution’s key features is Precise Timeout Control, which limits the maximum time a page waits for bids to be placed before loading. This can be set at the website, device and Ad Unit level, giving you unparalleled control over the auction. Loading time is therefore not really affected at all, ensuring we produce high revenue without compromising the User Experience.

On top of this, our Yield Optimization team monitors the performance of your set-up constantly, to ensure it has a minimal effect on site performance. And we are constantly working on optimization actions to eliminate latency issues.

So, does header bidding create page latency?

It can, but only if you opt for Client Side header bidding. With a Server Side set-up, you can avoid virtually all page latency issues.

5. Header Bidding affects direct campaigns


Many businesses are under the impression that Heading Bidding is in direct conflict with their direct campaigns – and they therefore have to choose one or the other. But this is simply not true.

When you implement header bidding, the Ad Server continues to follow the existing priority rules. And because direct campaigns are set at a higher priority than the header bidding line items and this priority is not overpassed, your direct campaigns are not affected at all.

This leaves publishers with two options. Depending on the Ad Server you use, you can either deliver your direct campaigns first – or make them compete with programmatic. Either way though, you will unquestionably secure the inventory you need to deliver direct campaigns in full.

So, does header bidding affect direct campaigns?

No, it doesn’t. So if this myth is keeping you from embracing header bidding – you should drop it and start using the technique today.

How Project Agora helps you make the most of Header Bidding

At Project Agora, we believe the ad tech world should be as transparent and easy to navigate as possible. So we help publishers optimize their ad stack performance with Project Agora Header Bidding – a meta-header bidding solution, which integrates the best of an expanding list of header bidding options.

We integrate all available demand sources, combining multiple header bidding implementations – including client-side, as well as server-side using Prebid.js and other header bidding wrappers. We constantly work on optimization actions to eliminate any latency issues. And we provide all of the expertise and support you need, ensuring virtually zero development work is required from publishers and you can start increasing your revenue in days rather than months.

If you’d like to discover more about Project Agora Header Bidding and how we can help you avoid the myths and boost your revenue – get in touch with our team today.