Facebook to introduce header bidding solution for its Audience Network

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In recent years, Facebook has established itself as a real competitor to Google for ad dollars, and now the social networking company is planning to pursue programmatic more aggressively with a header bidding solution that will bring Facebook’s Audience Network to publishers.

Header bidding is a programmatic technique that allows publishers to offer their inventory through multiple ad exchanges before they serve up ads from their ad server.

It is commonly used with Google DoubleClick for Publishers, which is only currently integrated with Google Ad Exchange.

By using header bidding and allowing their inventory to be offered through other exchanges first, such as AOL, AppNexus, Rubicon and Yieldbot, publishers can increase their yield, sometimes by significant double-digital percentages.

A threat to Google?

In effect, header bidding provides a way for publishers to auction their inventory to the highest bidder across exchanges.

Because of that, header bidding is seen as a huge threat to Google, which is responding. But it’s unlikely that it will be able to put the cat back in the bag and equally unlikely that its arch rival Facebook would team-up with Google when it can use header bidding without offering Google something in return.

According to AdAge, Facebook’s header bidding solution will focus on mobile publishers, and could be ready for launch in September or October.

When launched, publishers will have the opportunity to plug into Facebook’s Audience Network, which was launched in 2014 as “a new way for advertisers to extend their campaigns beyond Facebook and into other mobile apps.”

The Audience Network is effectively Facebook’s answer to AdSense, and although the company still generates the majority of its revenue from ads displayed on its social network, it says the Audience Network is the second largest mobile ad network.

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By embracing header bidding, Facebook could extend its reach with publishers, upping the ante in its battle with Google to be the dominant ad player on the web and mobile.

While Facebook’s wealth of user data gives it an interesting angle to play vis-à-vis targeting, it’s foray into header bidding initiative isn’t a sure bet.

As AdAge notes, Facebook shuttered its LiveRail video ad exchange earlier this year and has cut back on its Atlas ad server and measurement platform. These are reminders of the fact that Facebook, as powerful an ad player as it is, still faces challenges in growing its ad business outside of its walled garden.

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