Like any other “surprise” announcement in the industry, there are plenty of opinions on what this one means, especially as it relates to the future of header bidding.
This move certainly seems aimed at capitalizing on the popularity of header bidding, a technology that has seen explosive growth specifically as a result of Google’s absence from the server-to-server environment.
While some are pointing to the news as the death
knoll of header bidding, I firmly believe that the announcement is a clear validation of a direction that most see as the future of publisher inventory monetization, and a real opportunity for those
header-bidding providers with a clear vision for the future of publisher yield optimization.
I was thrilled that Google has embraced the hottest thing in digital publishing monetization. Google’s prominence in the digital media space makes it a trend-setter, often looked to by the industry for cues about where the industry itself is headed.
Even though this first announcement carves out a small number of alpha partners and essentially keeps the evolution inside Google’s “walled garden,” the fact that the company has acknowledged the value of the server-to-server environment will act as a head nod to many tech teams and header-bidding providers that have been slow-playing their product development plans.
Header bidding container solutions, for example, are currently seen as the vehicle for introducing innovations into the header bidding/server-to-server world—innovations like private marketplaces, simplified rich-media executions, final mass adoption of IAB Rising Star ad units, audience extension products, data management, data leakage solutions and single-port comprehensive publisher product integration.
These are critical next steps in the evolution of publisher yield optimization and, although Google has not yet shown signs that its plans include such a full embrace of server-to-server technology, the very fact that it has taken a first step will serve as significant air cover for those who are already planning the future of header-bidding solutions.
There are still those that claim Google’s move will simply eliminate the need for header bidding and any further development of its potential. Google is always the 500-pound gorilla in any discussion about the future of digital media products, but the truth is that many publishers like to have choices—and, more importantly, to maintain control over their businesses, pricing, inventory and data.
Completely ceding this ground to Google would further empower the “walled-garden” model and eliminate the reforming power of competition in the space.
I believe that, while Google’s latest announcement will certainly step up the level of expectations around what value header-bidding solutions must deliver in order to be competitive, it will ultimately push awareness and interest in header-bidding providers in the short term—and benefit those providers serious about their commitment to publisher value in the long term.