Michael Barrett
3 min read

Why Prebid Makes the Header More Relevant Than Ever

Note: This post originally appeared on the Rubicon Project website.

In the world of programmatic advertising, simplicity and control seem mutually exclusive. While closed systems offer ease-of-use but limited control, open systems are difficult to use but endlessly flexible.

We think there’s a way to have the best of both worlds, and the header is the right place to start.

After all, header bidding was designed to bring more control to a closed system. While it increased revenue for publishers and inventory access for buyers, it also introduced operational complexity.

This was the context from which the industry’s first open source movement emerged. Prebid brought transparency, flexibility, and community-driven innovation to header bidding. In the two years since we co-founded Prebid.org, the technology has become the independent standard trusted by thousands of global publishers and buyers.

Of course, Prebid has its limitations. Like all open source technology, to deploy, configure, and optimize code requires publishers to make significant investments in technical resources. Then,  publishers must rely on engineers for such basic tasks as troubleshooting integrations and pulling actionable reports. This may hinder publisher growth.

Announcing Rubicon Project Demand Manager

To address these challenges and allow Prebid installations to truly scale, Rubicon Project created Demand Manager, a Prebid-as-a-service solution. We do all the technical heavy lifting and publishers experience complete control through a real-time interface and analytics. Without the reliance on internal technical resources, publisher monetization teams can focus on making quick, informed decisions to help drive revenue.  Demand Manager clients can expect around-the-clock support from our Prebid and yield management experts. The service is now available to large publishers in private beta.

Key features of Demand Manager include:

I. Open Source Core

Demand Manager is built on top of Prebid, the open source standard for header bidding, and includes Prebid.js, Prebid Server and Prebid SDK. As co-founders of prebid.org, Rubicon Project is in a unique position to be able to offer tools that enhance Prebid’s value.

II. Value-Add Tools

Prebid is only as powerful and flexible as it is usable. With Demand Manager, we layer user-friendly, value-add tools on top of Prebid, providing configuration UIs, for example, that provide maximum visibility and control.

III. Integrated Marketplace

Demand Manager operates in Rubicon Project’s open, integrated marketplace, across all inventory types. Demand Manager clients have access to a brand-safe, private marketplace and can rest assured they’re not compromising ad quality. Because Demand Manager is built on Prebid, publishers can also connect with other Prebid demand sources.

IV. Exceptional Service

Demand Manager combines the power of product and people. We implement and host code while providing exceptional service, offering publishers responsive, end-to-end, live customer support.

Building a Bridge to Prebid Server

We believe in the power of Prebid, and that we are just starting to see its potential. Prebid Server will transform header bidding into a truly scalable system that offers the same transparency and flexibility as client-side Prebid. Both publishers and buyers will experience far greater efficiency.

Prebid Server will also provide unified support for all ad formats, and enable an array of advanced capabilities for Programmatic Guaranteed (PG), the new cornerstone of large publisher’s monetization strategies. With Prebid Server adoption barriers resolved, Demand Manager will help publishers navigate a browserless future and layer greater speed and enhanced performance on top of simplicity and control.

The Header is Just Getting Started

When Google announced their move to first price auctions in March, some said it would lead to the death of header bidding, and therefore of Prebid.  

We respectfully disagree. Closed and open systems can (and do) coexist.

The truth is that Prebid is evolving to be more relevant than ever. It’s driven by a community of publishers and buyers who care deeply about shaping their own destinies. They envision a world in which they don’t have to sacrifice control in exchange for simplicity. With Demand Manager, Rubicon Project’s goal is to do our part to help move the industry towards that future, and we encourage you to do so, too.