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Faster, Better Tech: How Amobee Handles Header Bidding

by Amobee, May 22, 2017

Over the last year or so, publishers have latched on to header bidding in a big way. While this has often fattened their ad revenues, the downside is that the number of bid requests has exploded.

Here at Amobee, we’ve seen our ad impressions per second rise from 1.3 million in 2014 to 4.5 million last December, an increase of 250%. Our experience isn’t unusual. DataXu, for instance, experienced a 100% jump in queries in 2016, according to AdExchanger. While the overall growth of programmatic is driving this too, the rise of header bidding is a big factor.

Not all demand-side platforms are handling the change equally. Many haven’t been able to keep up. For instance, if a demand side platform (DSP) receives 5 billion bid requests per day but can only handle 1 billion then it will wind up missing 80% of bids. This isn’t happening at Amobee because our algorithm has adjusted to the change and our business team has taken a proactive approach to weeding out redundant requests.

Human-based solutions

In our robust RTB ecosystem, we work with many global partners who implement within these header environments, resulting in duplication of bid requests. These redundant requests are the primary reason for the impression inflation we’ve seen over the last year or so.

Handling this increase requires a multifaceted approach that includes working with publishers but also tweaking our algorithm to recognize and ignore requests that aren’t relevant to clients’ needs.

The solution isn’t completely technical. For instance, we have stopped buying from some supply sources because they were sending us multiple ad requests for the same exact impression opportunity. Our business development team also builds relationships with publishers directly to understand how much inventory is truly available, which allows us to quickly identify suppliers who may be gaming the system. Amobee also has a team that manually curates impressions to deal with domain spoofing and duplicated bids.

Amobee partners closely with our supply side platforms (SSPs) to identify bid requests that originated from a header implementation. Although only a few SSPs support sending identifiers today, close relationships with our partners allow us to quickly ingest these signals that allow us to differentiate header-based requests from others. This is custom work that would be challenging for smaller DSPs or tech platforms that don’t have this ability.

Tech solution: Differentiating unique bid requests vs. QPS volume

From a DSP’s point of view, redundant bid requests are just noise. While small DSPs handle this overload by excluding 80% of bids to remain functioning, Amobee works on lowering the signal-to-noise ratio.

The way we do this is by focusing on unique bid requests, not queries per second (QPS) volume. Our engineers have recognized that all bid requests aren’t created equal. They built a hierarchical selection model for bid requests, so the platform can win more auctions and bring more value to clients by stabilizing the bidding pipeline.

Increased software efficiency is the key to making this happen. We can do more with fewer servers as we are carefully testing and selecting hardware that is best for operating at scale. The key to this is fine tuning our algorithms and technology to efficiently handle bid requests.

Ad tech Darwinism

While Amobee has risen to the challenge of impression inflation, that’s not the case for everyone. One outcome of impression inflation is likely to be a weeding out of some DSPs. As the market has changed, systems are being tested and some are failing. We view this as an opportunity to display what makes Amobee unique: a combination of technology and human creativity.

For more on how our technology handle greater QPS volume, see our engineer blog post, “The Challenges of Efficiently Scaling up Real-Time Bidding.”


About Amobee

Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tremor International, a collection of brands built to unite creativity, data and technology across the open internet.

If you’re curious to learn more, watch the on-demand demo or take a deep dive into our Research & Insights section where you can find recent webinars on-demand, media plan insights & activation templates, and more data-driven content. If you’re ready to take the next step into a sustainable, consumer-first advertising future, contact us today.

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