Facebook Is Finally Offering Header Bidding to Publishers on a Broader Scale

Opens up its Audience Network and partners with 6 ad-tech players

Facebook is opening up its Audience Network to mobile web publishers. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

While Facebook has been testing header bidding with a small number of publishers, it’s finally ready to roll out a broader plan.

Today, the company announced it’s opening up the Facebook Audience Network to mobile web publishers who want to use header bidding via a small group of technology partners. Facebook is partnering with six ad-tech companies—AppNexus, Amazon Publisher Services, Index Exchange, Media.net, Sonobi and Sortable—with more to come in the future.

Header bidding lets publishers auction inventory to multiple potential buyers at once before taking the highest offer—a pivot away from the traditional “waterfall” programmatic approach of stopping at the first acceptable offer. Header bidding has become a growing trend that some say helps democratize the programmatic buying process for advertisers while also increasing revenue for publishers.

Around 70 percent of publishers have already adopted header bidding in some form or another, said David Jakubowski, Facebook’s head of adtech, citing internal research based on the tags on pages. He said the move to break away from the historical “black box” approach is a “huge step” for the industry.

“It’s really the first technology movement we’ve seen in ad-tech dating back to the first ad server that truly benefits the publisher and the consumer as opposed to just biasing the technology,” Jakubowski told Adweek.

Facebook’s tests with publishers, including the Washington Post and Forbes, have shown that header bidding has the potential to increase revenue 10-30 percent. At the Daily Mail, header bidding through Facebook’s Audience Network has helped increase impressions by two or three times from traditional exchange-based advertising, according to Matt Wheatland, Daily Mail’s U.S. director of programmatic.

According to Amazon Publisher Services General Manager Ken Leeder, the server-to-server, cloud-based integration will help make the auction process more transparent while giving everyone a chance to compete “on equal footing.”

“Facebook and Amazon share the core tenet of leading with transparency to serve publishers, and we welcome Facebook Audience Network’s demand to our Transparent Ad Marketplace,” Leeder said in a statement.

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.