Three Years In, Takes On CTV-OTT — the independent organization that describes its mission as "ensuring fair, transparent and efficient header bidding across the industry" — is marking its third anniversary. 

Today, today manages multiple open-source projects, including the five-year-old anchor project Prebid.js, plus Prebid Mobile, Prebid Server, Prebid Video, Prebid Native and others. 

While most of the 60 dues-paying members who fund the organization are ad-tech vendors and publishers, it’s open to all companies that are part of the programmatic ecosystem — and just last month added its first buyer member, Havas Media Group.

Leader-member companies include Index Exchange, Magnite, MediaMath, OpenX, PubMatic, SpotX, The Trade Desk and Xandr. 

There are a variety of open-source header-bidder options in use, but Prebid is the most-used. And according to research by ad-tech tracking firm Adzerk, 72% of client-side wrappers are built on Prebid, compared to 28% built on proprietary codebases. 



All of which is offered as a backdrop to the point of today’s column, which is the news that, recognizing advertiser demand for better standards and more advanced programming tools designed specifically for long-form video, Prebid is expanding its work to address connected TV and over-the-top. 

Late last month, the organization formed a CTV-OTV task force charged with focusing on long-form video issues, including unified auctions, support for ad pods and competitive separation.  

We asked Tom Kershaw, CTO of Magnite and chairman of, for more specifics. 

Why form a task force dedicated to CTV-OTT at this juncture? 

Kershaw: While Prebid has been extremely successful in bringing a competitive and fair unified auction to display inventory — and also to video formats like outstream and in-article — the Prebid stack has not been used extensively by CTV providers. 

This has been due to three main factors. One is lack of a full feature set on the Prebid server. Video can’t run on pure JavaScript, and needs a server-side component. 

Another is render-rate concerns around VAST [Video Ad Serving Template] in a competitive auction. 

Third, there‘s the dominance of PMP [private marketplace] and PG [program-guaranteed] deals in the CTV market. 

The task force was formed specifically to address each of these areas and make it easier — and more impacting to yield — for publishers to move away from the current VAST waterfall model to a true unified auction in which direct-sold and programmatic compete on a level playing field. 

Can you elaborate a bit on how the task force will address these challenges? 

Kershaw: First, we’ll work on adding CTV features to the Prebid server to ensure that it can process — in a transparent, standardized manner — things like content categories, which enable critical features like podding and competitive separation. 

Second, we will be extending diagnostic tools built for display to specifically address VAST traffic, and ensure render rates are consistent with — and even better than — those for waterfall. 

Finally, we've already added an open-source “programmatic guaranteed” capability, and will follow that up with additional deals standards, as well as advanced features like forecasting.  

We’re very excited about the task force, and look forward to major progress on CTV in 2020 to 2021.

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