Whether you’re a publisher already using a header bidder solution to fill your online ad opportunities, or getting ready to implement one, best practices dictate that the number of bidders participating in your auction should be limited to 5-6. With so many bidders available, I’ve put together three criteria a publisher should use to narrow their pool down.

Speed and Efficiency
Latency affects the user experience. You want a partner with the lowest response times and timeout rates. The lower the better! Look for average response times below 800ms and a timeout rate less than 5% (for a 1 second timeout). A partner that controls their own infrastructure and has direct peering connections (through an autonomous system number) into their demand sources, while rarer, is optimal.  You can read more about how RhythmOne is a leading player in speed and efficiency in one of our previous blogs.

Direct access to demand
Fundamentally, the desired result of any bidder partnership you pursue is to achieve the highest CPMs plus maximum fill for your inventory – resulting in maximum revenue.  As you evaluate potential partners to work with, understanding the volume and variety of demand that will be made available to you is essential.  Demand can come from several sources – but primarily from either 1st or 3rd parties. 

Lets take the 3rd parties first.  It is essential that any bidder provider you work with has connections with 3rd party demand partners – specifically the major demand side platforms (DSPS). These relationships in place ensure higher fill rates.  Additionally, ask if a partner has native demand that they can make available to you.  This type of demand usually is from premium advertisers and at a higher CPM.  Lastly, understand how your inventory will be presented to demand partners is important.  Ask any potential partner if they can package and represent your inventory iinto higher-priced private marketplaces, or PMPs.  These three together – 3rd party demand, 1st party demand, and the capability of packaging your inventory – are essential to getting the most out of a bidder partnership.

Representing your Supply
As you evaluate potential bidder partners it is important to not lose sight of the strategic value of your inventory.  While conducting due diligence, have a firm understanding of the level of transparency you want to provide a partner, and ask the tough questions about how your supply will be represented to demand sources.  Understanding these two points will help to avoid the trap of surrendering strategic value for short-term revenue gains.  It is also essential to communicate to a bidder partner any potential channel conflicts that might surface with your direct selling team and set firm boundaries on when you should be consulted in how your supply is marketed.  Taking these steps will ensure that a partner is a good strategic fit.

As stated above, there are many things to consider as you evaluate a potential bidder partner – speed, demand and supply representation.  As you evaluate partners understand how the partner can deliver on all three, ask what level of managed service they can provide, and understand their support levels.   The answers to these points will tip the scales for you.

Obivously, this is not a set it and forget it process. Whether it’s once a week, month or once a quarter - you should experiment with other partners to test against your benchmarks and ensure you are maximizing yield. And if you don’t have a header bidder on your site, you can get started easily by visiting the free and open source library prebid.js and selecting RhythmOne and other bidders to include in your auctions.