Thought Leadership

Header Bidding Trial Boosts Video CPMs by 35 Percent

May 1, 2018
By Tameka Kee, Director, Marketing & Content Strategy

The digital video ad market shows no signs of cooling off.

With people streaming, sharing or otherwise consuming upwards of an hour and twenty-two minutes of video content every day (per eMarketer), and video ad completion rates hovering at 68 percent, the appeal of video for advertisers is clear.

These strong numbers highlight why publishers en masse haven’t quite shifted the majority of their video inventory from tag-based monetization to header bidding. With a growing, hungry ad market for their audiences and video impressions, why fix a monetization strategy that, technically, isn’t broken?

Because as one leading media company that tested Rubicon Project’s video header bidding solution learned, moving away from tags can lead to double-digit increases in CPMs and overall ad spend.

In Q4 of 2017, a U.S.-based media company allocated a segment of premium pre-roll inventory to Rubicon Project’s Prebid video header bidding solution.

Over the course of four weeks, performance of the inventory sold through Prebid was benchmarked vs. their existing tag-based monetization (VAST, also through Rubicon Project).

The trial compared sell-through, overall ad spend, and CPMs across the same types of ad units and content (i.e. long-form, short-form and news vs. entertainment) to deliver as balanced a comparison as possible. The results were crystal clear:

While most publishers have no problems monetizing their video inventory, moving to header bidding allows sellers — and more specifically, the ad servers that deliver demand for their inventory — to allocate that inventory in a way that potentially can lead to even greater yield (and higher CPMs).

Intelligent allocation for increased monetization

Header bidding essentially gives the ad server “brain food,” allowing publishers to set rules that allocate inventory according to specific criteria (such as achieving a price goal in a given time period), while still being mindful of direct deals and non-programmatic commitments that must be fulfilled.

Solutions like Rubicon Project’s Prebid for video can actually help ad servers understand the true potential value of any given impression. And in the case of our premium publisher trial, making the ad server a bit “smarter” led to 17X increase in ad spend.

Of course, not all publishers or header bidding setups are created equal, and the industry is still working out some kinks in terms of troubleshooting issues with render rates, compatibility across different video players, and even standardizing the delivery of performance analytics.

So while moving to header bidding for video has the potential to boost CPMs and overall ad spend, in an evolving market, the results from our trial — or any other header bidding solution — aren’t guaranteed.

As an industry, we’re increasingly moving toward a future where header bidding powers the majority of programmatic transactions, across display, mobile and video inventory.

It’s still early in the game, but there’s only one way to find out if allocating some of your video inventory to Prebid can positively impact your bottom line. Reach out to us at if you’re ready to learn more.

Tags: , ,