• AdTech
  • App Monetization
  • Mobile SDK Development

From Waterfall to Prebid for Header Bidding: Step-by-Step Guide

Eugene Dorfman
8 Feb 2022
5 min
From Waterfall to Prebid for Header Bidding: Step-by-Step Guide

Prebid for header bidding allows publishers to maximize ad revenue from their applications. But as you probably know, implementing and configuring Prebid on mobile is challenging without prior experience. That is unless you have Postindustria to help you out. 

Our guide will show you how to embed Prebid SDK into your app, set up the Prebid server, configure your ad server, and ensure everything works as intended. But first, let’s pinpoint how exactly Prebid improves ad monetization.

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    Why Prebid is the optimal monetization solution

    The waterfall monetization method is far from ideal. The mediation platform sends requests to multiple ad sources in sequential order to fill available ad space in your app. If the first partner doesn’t have an ad or doesn’t meet the price, the platform sends requests to the next one until it finds the first one that does.

    In other words, the mediation method rules out bids that may have higher CPM (cost per mile). Plus, this setup can take forever to find an appropriate bid because it calls partners one by one. As a result, many users may leave your app before seeing any ads.

    Header bidding solves these problems by simultaneously offering ad impressions to multiple demand partners. This allows you to quickly sell the ads to the bidders with the highest CPM.

    These days, over 67% of the US publishers use header bidding for ad monetization. However, the technology by itself is way too complex for mobile publishers. After all, many of them thought header bidding was hardly possible on mobile apps until recently (as mobile apps don’t have headers).

    Prebid is a set of open-source tools that make header bidding auctions not only possible, but beneficial for mobile. When properly set up, it provides your Primary Ad Server with additional bidding options, significantly improving your ad yield and revenue.

    Without further ado, let’s examine how to set up Prebid for your mobile app to improve your ad monetization.

    How to configure Prebid for mobile

    Implementing Prebid header bidding into mobile apps is complex, but we tried to simplify it with this step-by-step guide.

    • Check your configuration

    Start by preparing your monetization stack and ad server. Make sure that you have an active account on Google Ad Manager (GAM) and an active contract with at least one ad demand partner.

    • Implement the Prebid server

    The Prebid server implements the server-side part of in-app bidding. It receives bid requests, runs parallel programmatic auctions among your demand partners, determines the best bids, and sends results back to the Prebid SDK.

    The easiest way to set up a Prebid server is to register with AdTech organizations like Magnite or PubMatic. In addition to the hosted server, you’ll also gain access to their ad SSPs, proprietary wrappers, and a range of analytics and reporting tools.

    As an alternative, publishers can host Prebid Server by themselves. As you understand, this is a more complex option. Thankfully, GitHub contains the Prebid source code (both for the Go and Java) and the documentation on setting it up.

    • Prepare bidder configuration

    The Prebid server needs at least one ad unit configuration with a list of demand partners and bidding parameters. You should get these params from your demand partner(s) and set them up on the Prebid Server according to the configuration guide

    • Integrate a Prebid mobile SDK

    Integrate the Prebid Mobile SDK for your iOS or Android application. You should create Ad Units in appropriate formats according to the documentation (for iOS and Android).

    • Set up GAM line items for ad sources

    Line items contain information about how specific ad creatives are intended to serve your website or app along with pricing and other delivery details.

    You can configure your server to have one set of line items for all bidders or one set of line items for each bidder. The first option takes way less time to implement. However, having separate line items for each partner gives you a complete picture of their performance. 

    Here’s what you need to configure when adding line items:

    • Rate. This is the target price for your ads to compete with demand sources.
    • Line item type. Set your ad source to compete based on a Price priority to ensure your impressions are sold to the items with the highest CPM. 
    • Keywords. The line items use this value to capture bids. For example, the default keyword is “hb_pb,” followed by the rate (price) of the ad space.

    To cover as many price increments for your ads, Prebid offers several price granularity approaches. You can set appropriate Rate and Keyword values to define the price buckets. You may also want to configure Prebid price granularities based on ad media types (native, banner, video, video-instream, and video-outstream).

    • Add creatives to line items

    Now you have to attach ad creatives to your line items. Follow the prebid instructions to add, attach and populate creatives for your line items.

    Wrapping up

    Prebid for header bidding is a cost-effective and flexible way to maximize your ad monetization. It can help you minimize in-app latency, analyze your demand partners, and ensure that every winning bid has the highest CPM.

    Moving to Prebid requires AdTech experience and might need you to reconfigure your ad server. You can automate the configuration and remove some complexities by signing up with ad exchange networks. But to get the most out of Prebid, you might consider partnering up with a company that knows its way around AdTech.

    Do you want to implement and configure Prebid to your apps with the least amount of effort? Drop us a call to let us help you out!

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