To truly maximize monetization from your header bidding setup, pick the right number of monetization partners for the tech implementation you choose

The optimal number of header partners you should choose depends on each of the header bidding technology setups. Getting the number right will make your stack work smoothly, maximize your competition and revenue, and make the management of your header bidding stack less strenuous.

The Client Side Sweet Spot
For the client-side header bidding setup, we spoke earlier in this stream on how 6 is the optimal number. Here’s why: as many of you know, there is a limitation of sockets in the browser (the actual number depends on the browser being used). When the number of header bidders (and other sever connections the site might need) greatly exceeds the number of sockets, the publisher will not gain the benefit of the additional demand if all are competing — we conservatively say that ~6 can be in competition simultaneously given the socket limitation.
If you allow more partners to compete, you likely will run into latency issues waiting for the bids delayed by the socket limitation. With many more than 6 partners, a publisher (and monetization partner) will incur more latency, expense, and complexity so go beyond this number with caution.
To choose each of these partners, focus on the unique demand signature they add. Use the buyers that represent unique demand. Obviously Amazon, Facebook and specific re-targeters bring differentiated demand — it’s the long list of SSPs outside of these unique demand signatures that you should choose with more scrutiny so that you don’t have duplicative demand, as this will cause headaches for your buyers.
We also recommend making sure your partner understands that a position in your client-side wrapper is a place of honor in your stack and that performance will keep them there. This will maintain a competitive attitude with your partners and afford you the freedom to move folks in and out as partner performance wanes and improves.
Speaking of performance, the metrics that should influence your decisions to keep these partners in the wrapper are: low latency, high bids, consistent interest in different inventory components, high participation rate, and the percentage of your overall revenue from the partner.
The Ideal Number of Server Side Header Bidding Partners
Getting the number right in server-to-server header bidding setups is a little more nuanced. Here again, focus on unique, quality demand to make sure you have a good portfolio of all the differentiated partners here. Here you have more flexibility as the issue of latency is fairly insignificant. For server to server partners, you should be focusing on the partner’s reputation and attentiveness to your concerns when they arise…and making sure you are confident they stay on their game after the first few months of the relationship.
While server-to-server header bidding solutions are considerably less constrained, you still need to think about the following items:

  1. Ask yourself if the integration with server-to-server header bidding partner is seamless? Does the partner do the heavy lifting and proactively help you debug and test the setup?
  2. It’s also helpful for you to understand the costs of additional partners – both the technical and human maintenance cost on your side – as well as what each SSPs will charge.

In terms of strategy, we recommend that publishers also use server-to-server header bidding as a place to encourage the SSPs to be more competitive to earn a spot in your client-side wrapper (assuming you are using a hybrid solution). Additionally, you can use the server-to-server integration to identify and build better relations with your stronger buyers.
Once you have them buying, you will have data about their interests and focus. With this data, you can present additional opportunities on your inventory that will satisfy their buying KPIs. This type of data-driven dialogue with buyers will help you differentiate your offering, personalize the relationship, and ultimately find the sweet spot of number of publishers for this part of your stack.
Also, a quick related note on a trend we have seen over the last couple of months. Theoretically, you can load as many partners as you want in the server side header bidding setup, and the tendency here has been for publishers to jump in and add a bunch of partners quickly. We caution you to slow down and not to overload right away. Before you add additional partners, first make sure you have a measurement framework in place to measure the impact of adding partners. Then ask yourself what the true cost is of managing this many partners. Bear in mind, managing many partners is potentially creating a mess in your stack, data, and on the market. If you work with too many partners, things could become more complicated for buyers. Is the buy side seeing the same impression multiple times? Are they going to be annoyed if they do?
So what then is the magic number for server-to-server header bidding partners? So far, for all of the publishers successfully implementing this technique we haven’t seen many use over 20 partners in a server-to-server setup, with most staying somewhere between 5 and 10.
By being data driven on the number of partners in any style of header bidding setup, you’ll see who is adding to and detracting from your KPIs and be able to dialogue with the ones you keep from a position of control and understanding.
Next header bidding Golder Rule (#3) covers the proper use of analytics to optimize your header setup. Stay tuned!
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5 golden rules for header bidding client side header bidding header bidding header bidding analytics header bidding partners setup header bidding