What Are Header Bidding Adapters?

Prebid.js, the most popular header bidding technology, was initially launched back in 2015. According to its creators, the goal was to “make header bidding easy for publishers by bringing conformity and simplicity to the header bidding process”. Today, Prebid has become the most widely used header bidding wrapper on the web. It is an open-source technology that allows anyone to build on it, using one simple optimized foundation. It also offers the largest repository of working header bidding adapters. In this article, we’ll discover what exactly are header bidding adapters and look at a few examples. 

What is a Header Bidding Adapter?

Header bidding adapters are a piece of code that is used to create bid requests and process these requests to a specific demand partner. Each programmatic partner that the publisher wants to include in their header bidding setup has its own adapter, which must be added to the wrapper. The adapter carries the bid request along with information about the ad size, type, and format.

The most popular header bidding adapter is non-surprisingly that of the most popular header bidding wrapper – Prebid.js. Prebid is a free open-source header bidding technology, which has the largest repository of working adapters, supporting over 300 demand partners and 50 analytics providers.

There can sometimes be compatibility issues between different adapters in one container, in which case the adapters could be adjusted by either the buyer or the wrapper management party.

Types of adapters

Prebid offers two types of adapters for publishers: bidder adapter and analytics adapter. The first is the type that creates the bid requests and registering the bid responses that are transmitted to the supply-side platforms and ad exchanges, while the latter can connect you with a third-party analytics vendor (e.g. Google Analytics) to get further insight on data such as revenue, latency, bid rates, timeouts, etc.

Here are three among the most popular Prebid adapters. We’ve only listed three to provide you with a few examples, but you should keep in mind that there are many more that can be added to the list, such as IndexExchange, Criteo, PubMatic, DistrictM, PulsePoint, TripleLift, and many others. 

  1. Xandr (AppNexus)

Matt Kendall and Paul Yang from AppNexus (now Xandr), with the help of Nick Jacob from the publisher Aplus, were in fact the people who created the infamous Prebid.js wrapper that is so widely used by publishers today. AppNexus also developed an adapter to be used with the wrapper and to contribute to a more transparent auction process. Today, the Xandr adapter supports a number of ad formats throughout desktop and mobile web, native and video ads, as well as in-app ads. Custom and key-value targeting is also available for banner and video ads. The adapter features access to Xandr’s Marketplace, one of the largest programmatic marketplaces, as well as for analytics on ad performance, bid dynamics, latency, etc.

2. OpenX

Another Prebid adapter that’s worth looking into is that of OpenX. It allows publishers to use dynamic bidding in order to optimize each bid and gives them control over every auction. Publishers can set price floors and manage them individually, or in bulk. Moreover, the OpenX adapter features connections to multiple demand partners and advertisers, thus boosting CPMs. It works with display as well as in-stream video ads via a third-party video player. It has integrations with various universal ID solution providers, which can help identify users across different channels and platforms. Furthermore, it allows DSPs to sync users and achieves better match rates for advertisers, thus also contributing to greater CPMs. 

3. Magnite (Rubicon Project)

Magnite (previously known as Rubicon Project), is another popular Prebid partner that utilizes the Prebid technology. It features access to a private marketplace, guaranteed deals, as well as account management, and analytics support. Another perk of partnering with them is the superior targeting and performance data due to integrations with platforms like Integral Ad Science, ComScore, and Moat. It works with both display and video ads, and web publishers have access to custom targeting options. Bid-price optimization is also possible through the adapter’s options.

Wrap up

Now you understand the need for using an adapter with your header bidding container and have a few examples of possible Prebid adapters. The hard question for publishers however is which partners to the plugin. This would depend very much on the publisher’s requirements, as well as on their website’s audience. The number of added partners is also something to consider. More partners can increase fill rates and overall revenue. However, they need to be the right partners for your audience as too many bidders may cause latency and have an overall negative impact on your earnings.