OpenX Blog

Everything You Need to Know About Header Bidding: Animated Infographic


Header Bidding has taken the industry by storm, bringing with it a simplified auction environment, higher revenue for publishers, and increased access for buyers. 

However, there’s still a lot of confusion about what it is, how it works, and why we should all be paying attention. To demystify these points and many more check out our latest animated infographic on Header Bidding. 

Header Bidding Edited 11.23

Building a Collaborative Platform

Benjamin Johnson, Product and User Experience

There’s a dividing line between enterprise and consumer technology. But while that line exists to differentiate performance, it should not exist to differentiate user experience. User experience must be consistent. As consumers we have high expectations when it comes to user experience, and those expectations don’t suddenly change when we show up to work. That’s why OpenX is determined to redefine the space, eliminating the user experience disconnect, by merging our ad tech background with consumers user experience expectations.

Imagine a platform built with three simple concepts top of mind: unity, transparency, and collaboration. These three values define the world’s best user experiences, from mobile devices we can’t live without to the Web-based services that can best be described as seamless. By emphasizing the same standards that inform leading consumer products, OpenX is building a platform that mirrors a universal user experience. In other words, we’re transforming ad tech into a tool that’s as intuitive as your iPhone. Here’s how:

Each of the environments and tools existing within the platform must be unified to be comprehensive and cohesive. A user’s basic knowledge should provide a common language for using the full suite of products with a minimal learning curve.

Rather than connecting islands of productivity within the platform through structured sharing tools, the DNA of the platform must be inherently team-oriented. The goal is a collaborative environment that empowers users to work together and communicate in ways beyond what was originally contemplated by the builder, but without the need for additional tools or development.

Transparency is the cornerstone of a great user experience because it is the mechanism through which we surface knowledge. To be transparent, a platform must be an open book to every member of the team.

What does this mean for the OpenX platform?
Right now, we’re in the first phase of turning the OpenX platform into one that encompasses the highly desirable characteristics of consumer grade technology. Our long term goal is to move beyond basic product launches, and instead focus on building an entire platform that transforms the way we think and use enterprise software solutions.

Here are some of the initial changes we’re excited to tell you about.

Comments empower users to engage in dialogue with others. Until now, commenting in the enterprise software context was inconsistent and limited.

Moving forward, each page in the OpenX platform will feature a static module for commenting that enables users to collaborate, discuss questions, and reconcile conflicts precisely where the topic lives. We like to think of this as the ultimate forum thread, allowing users to work together in real-time.

Improved Audit Trail
Historically, audit trails are perceived as clunky mathematical statements that are accessible to only a handful of highly trained users.

To address this problem, we’ve built a natural language audit trail. Minor changes are noted in plain English, with a singular sentence explaining what happened, while an extensive change can be tracked and accessed through an Accordion View, which displays a natural language explanation of actions taken.

An improved audit trail vastly increases transparency across the entire platform. Managers have a clear window into operations throughout the platform. And secondly, the audit trails empower users to identify and troubleshoot tiny mistakes or errors before they create big problems down the line.

Alerts, Notifications, and Following
Speaking to our users, we found that many teams use email and other tools that live outside the platform to surface and share vital institutional knowledge. The problem with that approach, however, is that it’s easy for information to fall through the cracks.

Our solution centralizes communication within the platform. We’ve employed an Alerts, Notifications, and Following architecture that’s akin to how Facebook works. As with Facebook, users can follow a specific topic, tag a relevant person who should weigh in on that topic, and set alerts to receive updates on specific topics or actions. No more searching for the right email chain, no more frantic phone calls, no more Post-It notes stuck to your monitor; just the essential information conveniently where you need it.

Stay tuned for more developments as they launch! And please share your thoughts @OpenX, because the best user experiences come from users sharing their experience.

OpenX Named Top Fifty Best Places to Work

By Bob Hancock, Director of Talent Acquisition, OpenX

Today, OpenX was recognized by Advertising Age (Ad Age) as one of the best companies to work for in advertising and media. OpenX was selected among hundreds of ad-tech firms, agencies and media organizations in the United States – an enormous honor that speaks firmly to OpenX’s unreasonably awesome culture, career growth opportunities, and comprehensive benefits.

We’re strongly committed to creating a culture where each employee has the opportunity to innovate and individually further OpenX’s position as a global leader in the digital advertising industry.

In 2015 alone, OpenX increased headcount to 440 employees, fueling our growth as one of the leading players in the rapidly evolving programmatic space. Programmatic spending worldwide is estimated to grow to a $50B industry by 2020 – an intrinsic part of today’s modern world.

For more information on how you can join our unreasonably awesome team, check out our current openings.

Flexible Ad Units

By Miki Rapoport, Product Management OpenX

Larger ad units command higher CPMs, but they tend to have lower fill rates. Smaller ad units are more likely to sell out, but at a lower price. For publishers that tradeoff has long been a painful one because it requires sales teams to engage in guesswork, which often means leaving money on the table. But what if publishers could dynamically adjust supply to meet fluctuating demand?

With that question in mind, we created a unique solution called Flexible Ad Units. Publishers in the OpenX Ad Exchange can now implement Flexible Ad Units in order to accept multiple creative sizes per ad unit on a dynamic basis.

Increasing Yield

Rather than bidding on a single ad unit, Flexible Ad Units combines all available ad unit sizes into a single auction. The highest bid still wins, but the winning bid also determines the size of the ad unit, which adjusts dynamically to meet demand.

In the past, publishers would have to A/B test various ad unit sizes in order to optimize yield. Flexible Ad Units creates a real-time A + B test. Instead of projecting demand and leaving money on the table, Flexible Ad Units means that publishers are always able to sell the size with the greatest market value.

A publisher can only benefit from implementing Flexible Ad Units, because at best, the publisher is already gauging demand with 100% accuracy. If that’s the case, the Flexible Ad Units solution will merely automate the publisher’s calculations and deliver the same yield. However, the more likely scenario is that the publisher isn’t gauging demand with 100% accuracy. So when a publisher chooses to implement Flexible Ad Units, they can do so knowing that they will almost certainly increase yield without risk.

Increasing Access

By making supply dynamic, buyers also benefit in several ways.

When publishers have the ability to adjust their inventory dynamically to match demand, buyers gain access to ad formats traditionally considered “scarce” by industry standards – these formats include all rising star sizes (300×600 & 970×66/970×90/970×250).

In a private marketplace, dynamic supply benefits buyers because they can allocate their spend precisely to meet the needs of their campaign, as opposed to whatever inventory the seller has set aside for the PMP. Moreover, if the buyer is using programmatic tools in the PMP, both buyer and seller will automatically arrive at an optimal balance between higher CPM inventory and secondary sizes that have significantly lower fill rates.

How do Flexible Ad Units work?

Publishers can implement Flexible Ad Units without the hassle of adding code to the page or modifying their sales strategy. Flexible Ad Units work in desktop, mobile web and mobile app environments. Here’s how it works:

  • The publisher chooses which creative sizes they want to support
  • Advertisers enter a single auction in order to bid on multiple creative sizes

Ultimately, publishers win because they increase both competition and fill for all inventory.

Advertisers win because Flexible Ad Units gives them access to scarce inventory like rising stars.

flex ads mechanics 
Who’s Using It?

Multiple publishers have helped us test Flexible Ad Units, and already they’ve seen large increases in yield.  

Here’s what the team at Major League Gaming, which saw 30% lift in yield, had to say:

“We’ve been thrilled with the value we’ve seen from implementing flexible ad units with OpenX. Not only have we seen a significant increase in yield, but we’re also able to deliver more value to buyers, while maintaining a quality experience for our users.”


Ask an Expert: Sociomantic’s Head of Supply on Transparency and Eliminating Quality Contamination

It’s irrefutable – quality remains a top priority for advertisers and underpins the health of the advertising ecosystem. At OpenX quality inventory is our hallmark. We stand behind every piece of inventory in our exchange and are committed to tackling fraud head-on; to do so requires that we invest in the right technology and enforce rigorous quality standards. Our focus on quality also means that we align with partners like Sociomantic Labs, a leading DSP that buys media on behalf of more than 2000 clients, who takes a stand against fraud and is actively working to eliminate buying from SSPs with low quality inventory.

This week, we had a chance to speak with Alex Reinhold, Sociomantic’s Head of Global Supply, to learn more about Sociomantic’s Supply Quality Index, or SQX, a grading system of programmatic inventory suppliers which aims to bring transparency to buying decisions and in the process increase quality standards across the board.

OpenX: What prompted Sociomantic to develop the Supply Quality Index (SQX)?
In late 2014, we wanted to ensure that we were exclusively participating in transparent 2nd price auctions across our 40+ SSPs. Initial conversations with these SSPs were easy and straight-forward, as all of our partners happily confirmed – only verbally though – that we were paying the price of the 2nd best bid. However, when we asked for respective clauses to be added to our contracts, many of them did not reply or explained why the clauses were impossible.

This was the instigator for us to dig deeper and unravel the supply “blackbox” to understand where our advertisers’ money was actually going. It was then that we launched the Sociomantic Supply Quality Index (SQX) which factors SSP/Ad Exchange quality into our bidding by rating our partners based on three measures – transparency, performance and inventory quality. The measures are then combined to make up a dynamic score that we multiply by our intended bids. Sociomantic is the first programmatic buyer to assign a quality score to bids in real time.

What is it about OpenX’s inventory that is important to Sociomantic and its clients?
Based on our data and research, we know that OpenX is one of our most trusted SSPs. The degree of flexibility and transparency associated with our buying on the OpenX platform is almost unparalleled.

Instead of getting five engineers on the phone to explain why things are not possible, OpenX is always ready to adapt their engine to provide us with the technical means to understand what is happening with the dollars we’re spending. Transparency into publisher pricing controls and auction mechanisms are as important as the quality of the inventory we’re bidding on. Moreover, performance is exceptionally stable as compared to other SSPs.

What does the SQX mean for Publishers? And for Advertisers?
Publishers often use a range of SSPs to make their inventory available programmatically. SQX helps publishers to understand which SSP delivers the best quality. Using the data from SQX, we can confidently inform our publisher partners about the SSPs they can trust strictly based on data. With that in mind, the idea is to promote quality and accountability in an objective way.

For advertisers, SQX functions as a quality protection. With SSPs complying with the quality standards we set, we expect a sustainable, positive impact on both performance and brand safety for advertisers.

Having now launched SQX internally, what are the next actions Sociomantic plans to take?
SQX is a growing algorithm. Currently, the index encompasses three measures, but given we are constantly integrating new factors into the algorithm, more measures could be added in the coming months. Our SSPs will then be provided with a detailed manual that outlines what we deem as “high-quality”. In essence, this will automate many of the conversations we usually have during quarterly business reviews with our partners. It’s a fairly simple equation: the more quality you deliver, the more we will buy.

How does Sociomantic effectively grade its programmatic inventory suppliers?
Obviously, I can’t go into too much detail here. What I can say is that based on a range of factors that comprise our three measures – transparency, performance and inventory quality – we calculate a supplier-specific score in real-time. That happens on the basis of large data analyses on the back of our constant bidding activity. In order to calculate our effective CPM for an impression, we simply multiply our intended bid by the supplier’s SQX score, which ranges from 0 to 1.


How have your clients responded to the SQX?
Advertisers love it. One of the prevailing problems with programmatic is the lack of trust associated with it. A vacuum of transparency in combination with large volumes of impressions traded bears certain risks and violates trust. That’s why advertisers and publishers are thankful for any measure taken to eliminate the contamination of quality – and by that I also mean efficiency.








The Programmatic Promise

Programmatic has transformed the industry, bringing greater efficiency with real-time optimization.

However, when will programmatic move from cutting-edge to ubiquitous, ensuring every single ad is viewed by the right person, at the right time, on the right device?



OpenX at Advertising Week XII

4 days, 290 events, 10,100+ delegates, 902 speakers and 1 OpenX

It’s no surprise that the dominant themes at Advertising Week XII were Trust and Transparency – with OpenX leading the charge as the exclusive sponsor of Advertising Week’s Trust Forum.

At the Trust Forum, OpenXers and industry experts engaged in lively discussions on the state of trust in the digital advertising industry, taking a deep dive into the meaning of quality. Discussions focused around big industry issues like ad blocking, consumer trust, eradicating fraud, and the challenges of the fragmented-device environment.

It’s only been a few days since AWXII came to a close, and while some of you early birds may already be planning for 2016, the majority of us are still wrapping our heads around this year’s whirlwind week of events. Here’s a quick recap from our point of view:

Beyond the Trust Forum, OpenX executives participated in a number of other discussions throughout AWXII, offering fresh perspectives on trends like header bidding, big data and disruptive technologies.


And who can forget the juice bar? It was a no contest hit with delegates!





All Access Pass: Dissecting Header Bidding With OpenX’s Qasim Saifee

By Gavin Dunaway, Senior Editor, AdMonsters

Header bidding (also referred to as tagless bidding) might seem as mysterious as it is exciting. Sure, it’s driving mad revenue for all your publisher friends, but what are these whispers about editing source code, latency and bizarre implementations never seen before in digital advertising? Oh dear, oh my!

Not to fear – Qasim Saifee, OpenX SVP of Monetization Platform, is here to hold your hand through a comprehensive exploration of header bidding and how it enables publisher demand partners to evaluate inventory before the impression even hits the ad server and dynamically enter competitive bids. In addition to walking through the tech basics, Saifee expounds on the benefits for publishers, implementation challenges, where private marketplaces fit and how header bidding is paving a bold future for programmatic transactions.

For the entire AdMonsters Q&A with OpenX’s Qasim Saifee and AdMonster’s Gavin Dunaway, click here.


Insight From The Next Generation: Opportunity and Growth – You Need Both

By Harrison Brunelli, Intern, Business Development 

Many people in technology will have the choice at some point in their career between working at a large company with a mature business and working at a smaller or medium-sized company with a rapidly growing business. My internship at OpenX has shown me the value of working at a company in the midst of its rapid growth stage. Unlike at many large companies where interns work in one function within one department, at OpenX, if you’re interested in a project or initiative that may be outside of your department, people are happy to get your input and help. This allows employees to pursue their passions and grow in ways that would not be possible if there wasn’t a culture of open collaboration.

This culture stems from two of the company’s key values: “OpenX is mine” and “We are one”. At OpenX, employees take ownership of both the company’s successes and the challenges it must face. “That’s not my problem,” are four words you’ll never hear and there is a strong belief that every employee has the potential to solve big problems. I’ve had the opportunity to experience this first-hand.

One afternoon, I was sitting in a weekly business development (BD) meeting, and the mobile team mentioned the massive amount of work currently on their plate. As a member of the BD team focused on display advertising, I have limited knowledge about mobile. Despite my lack of knowledge, I was interested in mobile because of its significant growth over the past few years. I didn’t know exactly how I could help, but I knew I could be of some value, so I offered my time. It turns out the mobile team was in the midst of a major market penetration effort and they could use any help they could get. I had the opportunity to jump in, learn about the mobile aspect of our business, and make a real contribution to the mobile sales effort moving forward. As an intern, I was able to learn a new side of the business and gain invaluable insight in how to form a sales strategy.

My work with the mobile team was not my only experience with being able to contribute to different parts of OpenX’s business. When I expressed interest in working with the private marketplace product, I was also able to lend a hand. This allowed me to get an in-depth look at a product I would have otherwise had little experience with and provided me with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the needs of the demand-side partners with whom we work. At most companies, an intern wouldn’t have the opportunity to work across functions and teams, and yet, I believe that this is the exact type of experience that can contribute most to a young professional’s development.

Not only did all of these experiences help with my professional development, but it also helped me to deliver better at my core functions on the business development team. Having a deeper understanding of products across the company, and learning how other individuals in the company viewed market opportunities informed all the work I did allowing me to contribute quality analysis and insights to my team.

OpenX’s position on the frontier of so many new developments in the ad tech landscape, in combination with its unique collaborative culture, puts its employees in a position to grow and learn, and for an intern, there is nothing better.




Insight From The Next Generation: When Interning, Diversify

By Grant Gatewood, Buyer Development Intern

As the end of my first month at OpenX approaches, I have begun to reflect on all of the experiences, wisdom and insights that have impacted me throughout my professional career. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the lessons I’ve learned while interning, and the value of diversification. I’ll touch on a variety of my career development experiences, and then discuss what I mean by diversification!

Whether you are a student, graduate, or professional, I believe this post can help you to reflect on your own career experiences, and maybe even influence the direction of your professional career.

Good collaboration skills are essential to one’s success. Whether you are an intern or a full time professional, you must be able to work with a variety of people to get things done. Collaborating is the best way to breakdown complex tasks, learn, and build team chemistry. A tangible example of this comes from my involvement in the Prudential Millennial Case Competition held at my University’s Business School. If my team members and I were unable to bounce ideas off of one another, give feedback, and properly communicate, we would not have done well in the competition. I’ve learned that companies value when interns and young professionals understand and excel in the art of collaboration.

Culture is KEY
“Your own happiness and comfort correlate with your professional success”

As an aspiring entrepreneur (I want to run a start-up one day), I’ve always felt that a strong culture helps to promote organizational success. One of the most important concepts that I have reaffirmed throughout my professional career is the importance of a company’s culture. The culture is what helps a company express/maintain its core competencies, align employees, and influence the work environment. A cultural fit helps to promote your happiness on the job. When working, it is important to remember that your own happiness and comfort correlate with your professional success.

Why work 40+ hours a week in an environment you’re not comfortable in? The answer to this question for many people revolves around salary. The simple model of, “I’d be happier at Job A, but Job B pays more,” influences people to force themselves into positions where there is no cultural fit. Of course, I also understand that everyone has different circumstances and financial situations that may require them to take “Job B.”

At OpenX, I’ve noticed that the culture is what keeps people dedicated, collaborative, happy, and hardworking. When employees really align with culture, it is easy for them to maximize their potential. The culture here is one that values diversity, learning, innovation, collaboration, work/life balance, employee happiness, and a “work hard play hard” attitude.

Absorb EVERYTHING + Stay Humble
“You must learn to find value in even the smallest of assignments in order to stay humble, active, and focused.”

In any internship or career development experience, it is important that one absorbs as much knowledge as possible. A tactic I have used is to find positivity and benefit in every professional experience you have. Whether it is taking notes at a meeting, doing research, talking to someone for five minutes, or developing/presenting a deliverable, you must find value in every task that you complete.

During my Corporate Management Internship with KPMG, I had a plethora of assignments. While some assignments required me to take more of a leadership role within my team of interns, others required me to play a support role as I assisted my managers with some of their smaller projects and responsibilities. I quickly learned that absorbing the value and benefit of every task would make me a better professional in the future.

Using this technique helped me develop stronger talking points for interviews, maintain a positive and humble attitude, and better understand the holistic perspective of my position. Interns must understand that in the work world you are not always occupied with major projects 100% of the time. You must learn to find value in even the smallest of assignments in order to stay humble, active, and focused. Humility is a trait that goes a long way. As an intern or young professional, you want to be humble and learn. Don’t be known as the person trying to consistently outsmart or outshine the CEO!

I believe that this concept is mostly valuable for those still in college (especially freshman/sophomores). If you have no idea where you want to be after graduation (most don’t), this technique may help.

When I say that one should attempt to diversify their resume, I mean that they should try to get themselves involved in a variety of professional experiences (internships, case studies, career development workshops, conferences, etc.). This may seem obvious, but many students limit themselves in varied exposure.

For example, if you’re an Accounting major you could get an internship with a Big 4 Accounting firm one summer, then a tech company the next summer. This way, you can immerse yourself in different networks of people, company cultures, and gain a different perspective of your field. While in college, it is appropriate to try different opportunities so that you can really figure out where you want to be once you graduate. Step out of your comfort zone, have new experiences, and enjoy different opportunities!