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What Is a Header Bidding Wrapper & How It Works

Real-time bidding is an important part of the modern programmatic advertising process. In a nutshell, programmatic advertising and real-time bidding ensure that consumers receive relevant, targeted advertisements as soon as they click on a webpage. Plus, they enable advertisers and marketers to bid for publishers’ ad inventory through a near-instantaneous, automated bidding process.

But that all only works properly because of header bidding wrappers. Today, let's take a closer look at these JavaScript tools.

What Is a Header Bidding Wrapper? How Header Bidding Works

To understand what a header bidding wrapper is, you need to understand how real-time bidding and programmatic advertising work.

Programmatic advertising uses different automated tools and algorithms to automatically bid on, sell, and place advertisements on ad networks. This exchange is usually facilitated via demand-side platforms/DSPs and supply-side platforms/SSPs. However, client-side header bidding partnerships also exist.

Real-time bidding takes place between these platforms and parties. In essence, an advertising publisher — such as a website with ad inventory or space to display advertisements — puts out the ad inventory and receives bids from marketers or businesses. The business that puts forward the highest bid wins the ad slot. The winning bid’s ad shows up on the publisher’s webpage via the publisher’s ad server.

All that happens in just seconds and leads to an instant ad impression. Even accounting for personalization and targeted advertising, it happens in milliseconds every time a webpage opens up in a user’s browser or app.

Header bidding wrappers are integral parts of this process. In a nutshell, a header bidding wrapper is a bit of JavaScript code that is added to a given website’s header. Also called a framework or container, a page’s header bidding wrapper has two jobs:

  • Run header auctions for header ads by sending requests to demand partners (e.g., marketers and businesses who want to advertise on the website) and receiving bids from them based on ad inventory.
  • Define the rules of the auction so that auctions are efficient and nearly instantaneous. This includes when the auction will begin, the number of bidders who can participate, how long the auction needs to wait for bid requests, floor prices for ad space, and so on.

What Do Header Bidding Wrappers Do?

Header bidding wrappers help to organize and streamline the real-time bidding process and the monetization of ads. They request bids from demand partners — this is helpful so businesses and marketers don't constantly have to watch for new ad inventory to open up. Instead, this happens largely automatically and instantly, thanks to header bidding wrappers.

Header bidding partners also set the rules for programmatic auctions to ensure the publisher gets as high a price for ad inventory as possible. By setting rules, it ensures that bidders have enough time to get to the auction and place their bids. The more bids that are placed, the more money an ad publisher can expect to make since competition usually drives the prices up.

In a technical sense, header bidding wrappers are usually managed individually and independently. Every advertising network or supply-side platform has to integrate directly into the ad publisher's website using its own JavaScript code. If done improperly, this can result in lost revenue and slow page load times.

Header Bidding Wrapper Types

There are several types of header bidding wrappers that your organization may use throughout the real-time bidding process.

  • Open-source header bidding wrappers, which are free, open-source solutions that are maintained by developer communities and used via ad servers. They are popular and widely used on ad exchanges, and they are easy to access and integrate into your existing webpage headers. However, many ad publishers eventually have to pay for vendor support, integration, and other services or tools, so they can end up costing money in the long run.
  • Proprietary wrapper solutions, which are proprietary tech tools from various platforms or companies. They can be advantageous since they may be easier to integrate or may come with other benefits, but they can also cost much more.
  • Managed wrapper solutions, which are made for ad publishers who don’t have SSB partnerships. They’re usually built on top of existing ad platforms, offering transparency and dependency on a given wrapper provider.

Any of these header bidding wrappers can work for your ad ops team’s needs. However, you should look into the different wrappers available to you and your overall budget before making a decision. Try to find a bidding wrapper that has excellent reviews, as well.

Why Use Header Bidding Wrappers?

There are lots of benefits and reasons to use this ad tech for your marketing and real-time bidding efforts.

For starters, header bidding solutions give demand partners an equal opportunity to bid, improving the profit that an ad network or publisher can expect to make. Bidding wrappers can also integrate with multiple adapters, allowing for easy ad demand management. In other words, it minimizes the human effort or labor involved in the process.

Header bidding wrappers also enable asynchronous auctions. Wrappers call all the demand partners simultaneously, then create a unified and streamlined auction environment. Users don't have to wait for advertisements to load in order for the rest of a webpage to load as a result.

On top of that, header bidding wrappers come with the ability to set universal timeouts. This prevents slow demand partners from slowing down or freezing the bidding process, which can have adverse effects on your webpage, your customers, or the targets for your ad ops campaigns.

Lastly, header bidding wrappers also enable integrated analytics. Most header bidding wrappers can report data or results in real-time, such as win rate, CPM, ad revenue, and much more. All of that is incredibly valuable for marketers and ad publishers alike.

Downsides to the Header Bidding Process With Header Bidding Wrappers

Header bidding wrappers do have some potential disadvantages.

For starters, they are complex. It can take a lot of time and effort to understand how these wrappers work and how to set them up properly. If you set them up improperly, you’ll have wasted time since they won’t provide any of the above benefits.

Furthermore, setting up a header bidding wrapper takes a lot of effort from each individual vendor for optimization. Vendors like Amazon, Index Exchange, and Prebid all need to optimize set-up for an ideal user experience. Therefore, if you ever want to change your header bidding wrapper provider, you’ll have to spend even more time on this process.

Lastly, you can run into something called demanding compatibility. If your wrapper just doesn’t work with a demand partner, you’ll have to set up auctions and bid rules for them separately and independently, adding to your workload.

Try AdQuick Today 

Header bidding wrappers are useful JavaScript tags that organize advertising demand partners, set auction rules, and ensure that bids are received at the right time. They facilitate the real-time bidding process and ensure streamlined efficiency for everyone involved.

In that way, they’re similar to AdQuick: your one-stop shop platform for out-of-home advertising and media campaigns, ranging from billboards to car wrapper ads and more. With AdQuick, you'll be able to better purchase and manage your billboard ads and other out-of-home media, so try it today.


What is demand-side platform (DSP)? | Definition from TechTarget

Introduction to real-time bidding (RTB) - Authorized Buyers Help | Google

What is supply-side platform (SSP)? | Definition from TechTarget

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