Publisher Staffing In Era Of Header Bidding

Header bidding has become the new obsession of the fast-changing advertising industry. This advanced technology has presented a slew of new opportunities for both advertisers and publishers, but there is a learning curve involved.

For publishers in particular, header bidding has presented an operational challenge in the form of staffing. At its core, header bidding is a technology that allows for multiple bids to compete over an available impression before ever having to take action with the ad server. This results in generating the highest possible yield for every available ad impression.

To oversee this strategy, publishers must tap talent who understands all of these nuances. This includes comprehension of the technology and how it operationally impacts successful fulfillment, while also appreciating the direct sales efforts of the property itself.

Simply moving headcount around within the traditional sales team to manage header bidding has proven to be ineffective, and in some cases, retroactive in combating waterfall prioritizations.



Achieving header bidding’s true promise for publishers -- maximizing yield on digital impressions -- requires a delicate balance between sales, operations, and technology. A person charged with overseeing these efforts must possess all three of these skillsets.

Being well-versed in ad sales is a critical, and perhaps obvious, skill for this role. Sensitivity to long-standing direct sales relationships with brands cannot be overlooked when focusing on the automation and yield of a header bidding implementation. While header bidding is fundamentally a revenue/yield enhancement strategy, it pulls from both direct and programmatic channels, and thus a thorough knowledge of both monetization strategies is necessary.

For local media in particular, this familiarity with the direct ad sales process is critical. Because direct sales teams at times can feel disenfranchised by the header bidding process (particularly when they lose out on an impression to a programmatic-generated bid), the person in charge must understand these concerns and finesse a strategy that maintains value across the board. Anticipating those types of scenarios ahead of time provides more time to plan how direct sellers will handle the updates to their clients.

The second skillset is operations. One must understand the complex landscape and all the players involved, deciding which relationships are most beneficial. A publisher does not need to work with 10 different exchanges, although there is power in numbers. When it comes to ad tech, too many cooks in the kitchen can be quite counterintuitive to the operational function, and counterproductive to building revenue.

Working with a select few exchanges and striking strategic partnerships will boost efficiency.

Lastly, the staffer handling this function must understand the technical nuances and inner workings of what’s powering header bidding. Without such knowledge, one cannot have the programmatic-rooted conversations that will undoubtedly come up.

One absolutely must speak the language of ad tech with enough fluency to converse with engineers, exchanges, and DSPs.  Ad tech is evolving so rapidly that the likelihood of a new technology trumping header bidding is high. Overseeing this strategy requires not only an understanding of the current technology, but the ability to anticipate change to avoid getting caught too off guard.

This necessity for a skillset trifecta continues to prove challenging for the supply side. These are skills that are quite new to the industry, particularly in this combination. Filling this role means tapping a different kind of candidate than publishers are traditionally used to.

As the supply side sorts out their own strategy for header bidding, tapping leaders who can bring all of these skills to the table will be the best investment they can make.

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