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  • In-App Monetization
  • Understanding Consumers

6 Things You Need To Know About In-App Header Bidding

Matt Kaplan
Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
5 min read
Posted on November 05, 2018
6 Things You Need To Know About In-App Header Bidding

In-app header bidding is all the rage today.¹ But is it worth the hype? We polled scores of app publishers and their demand partners to find out.


Download our full report for the complete findings of our survey, along with exclusive data from our network.

Based on our research, here are six key takeaways:

1) The App Monetization Status Quo Isn’t Working

The current approaches that apps are commonly taking in regard to ad monetization are just not cutting it anymore. In particular, our survey found that 53 percent of those polled said that ad revenues had mostly remained the same or had dropped in the last 12 months. And, an additional 24 percent said they didn’t or couldn’t track this.

Further compounding these issues is ad latency, which negatively impacts revenue potential and the overall user experience. According to the report, 40 percent of respondents said it took a second or more for an ad to appear within the app once the call first goes out. That may not seem like much, but to increasingly impatient mobile app users it can seem like a lifetime.

2) In-App Header Bidding Solutions Already are Proven Effective

Luckily, a solution to these woes already exists. In-app header bidding and unified mobile ad auctions have become increasingly popular monetization options, and are already helping app publishers and developers more effectively optimize revenue yields while also delighting end users.

To see just how effective unified auctions are today, we analyzed data from InMobi’s network from 2017. This review found that apps leveraging InMobi’s mediation offering (which includes unified ad auctions), in comparison to their non-mediating peers, saw the following results:

  • 44 percent more ad impressions.
  • 7.4 percent more ad sources.
  • 48 percent more ad revenue.
  • Ads loaded 28 percent faster.

And, mediation and unified auctions are now used for a wide variety of ad inventory, even rewarded video. Our survey found that among those currently utilizing in-app header bidding, 47 percent have open auctions set up with video ads and 52 percent have it set up with interstitials, among other ad formats.

3) The Historical Average Still Holds Sway, as Misconceptions Reign Among App Developers

If in-app header bidding is proven effective, then why do 57 percent of publishers still use waterfalls to determine the highest bidder?

The reason why is because many app developers and publishers aren’t fully aware of unified auctions and their benefits. Only 22 percent of survey respondents said they had a very good understanding of in-app header bidding, while 12 percent had a limited amount of knowledge on the topic and 11 percent admitted to not understanding it at all. And, among survey respondents not utilizing in-app header bidding, 11 said they weren’t using the technology because of latency concerns, even though unified auctions are proven to improve ad load speeds.

4) In-App Header Bidding Will Become Increasingly Necessary

But, despite concerns, in-app header bidding will likely become more commonplace in the industry. As the ad tech landscape changes and becomes more dependent on programmatic tech, old ways simply won’t prove effective. The same change that occurred on desktop and mobile web will happen here.

5) Publishers of Mobile Apps Willing to Experiment and Try Out New Things

Even though waterfalls and historical averages still dominate the mobile app ad monetization space today, there are signs that app publishers are beginning to look at new and different approaches. For example, 43 percent of survey respondents are already using real-time bidding, and the number of in-app header bidding auctions on our network rose 56 percent in 2017.

Server side connections help with testing, as a direct connection to the ad server makes it easier to try out new options and conduct trials. Among survey respondents currently using in-app header bidding, close to half have a hybrid wrapper or server-side wrapper in place with their chosen auction partner.

6) In-App Header Bidding is Not the Same as a Unified Auction

Nowadays, it seems like every major app monetization player claims to offer header bidding within app environments. Even the Facebook Audience Network now claims to offer in-app header bidding. But, all that glitters is not gold.

So what’s the difference between the two? With most in-app header bidding setups, only part of the demand occurs via auctions.

For example, consider a waterfall that has three ad network demand sources. Just because the second demand source determines its winning bids via an open auction doesn’t mean that waterfalling’s issues go away. In contrast, in a unified auction, every single ad bidder competes against each other in real time for every bid opportunity.

Interested in more insights on the current state of monetization and in-app header bidding? Be sure to grab the full report today.




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