Mobile App Header Bidding Expands Monetization Opportunities for Publishers

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Increases in impression volume and ad spending on mobile devices are changing the monetization opportunities available to mobile app developers, according to a new report released by the publisher-focused sell-side platform PubMatic.

In its first Quarterly Mobile Index of 2018, PubMatic found that header bidding impression volumes rose 70% year-over-year, with mobile driving the majority of the growth, at 110% year-over-year.

Header bidding is a programmatic technique in which publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges, at the same time, before making calls to their ad servers. By letting multiple demand sources bid on the same inventory at the same time, the thought goes, publishers should be able to boost their yield.

“Header bidding offers a number of key benefits, including greater transparency, reduced latency, and improved user experience. The greatest, though, is higher yield,” says Osbaldo Franco, PubMatic’s director of marketing research.

The data in PubMatic’s new report comes from the company’s own yield and data analytics team, which analyzes more than 10 trillion advertiser bids each month. The report incorporates impressions, revenue, and eCPM data, as well.

In all, PubMatic found that header bidding-enabled mobile ad spending rose 102% between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. News was by far the top vertical for mobile monetization across both the open exchange and private marketplaces, followed by the entertainment and leisure; food and dining; and shopping verticals.

Among the top 1,000 U.S. publishers that monetize inventory programmatically, header bidding penetration reached 73.4% in March, according to PubMatic.

Franco attributes the growth of in-app header bidding volume to firms looking to seize on the massive opportunity to increase competition for their inventory at the impression level.

“Expect to see a solid embrace of in-app header bidding technology among publishers seeking to understand and monetize the true value of their inventory in this coveted platform,” Franco says.

The uptick in header bidding impression volumes wasn’t the only standout trend in PubMatic’s report. Franco says he was also interested to see that global app impression volumes monetized by PubMatic rose 84% year-over-year, outpacing the 28% growth rate for mobile web inventory.

While mobile accounted for a 43% share of spending on programmatic advertising in 2017, PubMatic’s newest analysis has that number reaching 64% by 2021.

“The fast-paced growth in app advertising is not surprising, considering that U.S. adults are expected to spend most of their online time with mobile apps,” Franco says. “Across PubMatic’s inventory, the growth in app volumes was driven by a significant spike in the U.S., which saw app volume rise 90% [year-over-year] in Q1, driven by triple growth rates in the technology, news, and entertainment and leisure verticals.”

Looking at the most recent data, which shows nearly four-in-10 video impressions monetized through PubMatic now being served on handheld devices, Franco says he expects to see video monetization become increasingly mobile in the coming years.

“Mobile video ad spend in established markets like Spain, Australia, and even the U.S. rose by double-digit rates,” he says. “But nascent video markets like India, which is home to the fastest growing base of mobile video viewers in the world, according to eMarketer, are likely to experience exponential mobile video ad spend growth as publishers and advertisers leverage this format to engage consumers in their most intimate screen.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.