Thought Leadership

Partnering through Open Source: How We Work with Publishers to Innovate and Build Long-Term Strategies

September 25, 2018
By Heather Carver

Header bidding has come a long way in the last four years. Industry adoption has soared, and technology has become increasingly standardized. This is great for the developers with hands on code, yet some exchanges have chosen to develop proprietary wrappers. Rubicon Project has remained committed to supporting and open source solutions.


First and foremost, open source technology offers publishers more dependable and effective ways to partner with ad tech vendors. They gain transparency and control of their inventory.  

For Rubicon Project, it opens the doors to innovation, allowing us to set up long-term success for sellers, instead of dedicating all of our development resources to troubleshooting and iterating a homegrown wrapper.

Transparency & Control

Publishers want the freedom to select ad tech partners for the value they bring to the table — better inventory monetization, transparency and control, unique demand sources, brand safety solutions, and more. An open source wrapper provides the level of control and transparency necessary for publishers to make informed decisions, and the ease and efficiency to turn partners on –– and off –– whenever they need.

Standardization & Innovation

While all organizations may have some tech debt, exchange partners with proprietary wrappers can easily accumulate it fast. Developers have to spend a significant amount of time updating and fixing potential issues. At the same time, they’re constantly under pressure to respond quickly to a rapidly changing, dynamic marketplace. Because of the pace of innovation  — and lack of time — they may need to rely on quick fixes to their homegrown solution; this in turn creates a web of band-aid solutions and an unstable product foundation. With so many moving parts to keep track of, it’s easy to get mired in troubleshooting and bug fixes, rather than spending time on things the publisher truly values. Simply put, these exchanges lose sight of the big picture.

With an open source wrapper, issues get fixed quickly. — a consortium of ad tech companies —supports the entire Prebid community. Everyone who is part of this community has access to the code, allowing many developers to update the wrapper and swiftly fix bugs. These developers are also incented to improve the core technology, so they build innovative solutions on top of the open source. There is a ton of release communication and resources to which developers can turn. This is why Prebid has standardized so quickly.

How We’re Making Partnerships More Effective

Our commitment to open source allows us to focus our resources on smarter product roadmaps, providing greater value to our partners. Our Prebid solution only starts with open source tech. From there, we build value-add tools, including a user interface, with robust reporting and analytics that will give users the ability to forecast and assess deal health.

We help publishers with their private marketplace strategy, and use header bidding to prioritize PMPs for their biggest, most strategic agencies and brands. Publishers have more control over where to put their demand within the ad stack and that gives them insight into who performs well with their inventory. Those insights can be shared back to their PMP partners, building stronger, more productive relationships with advertisers and brands, further increasing the effectiveness of their inventory. And — as we develop more sophisticated analytics — this process will only become easier.

Sure, we offer technical support and wrapper management, but open source allows us to dedicate much of our time consulting with partners on how to get the most value from our tools and working toward industry-wide innovation.

To learn more about Rubicon Project’s open source Prebid solution, contact us at

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