Podcast: PubMatic Prez Kirk McDonald Sizes Up Header Bidding’s Impact

Welcome to episode No. 9 of AdExchanger Talks, a podcast focused on data-driven marketing. Subscribe here.

Since PubMatic President Kirk McDonald joined the company from Time Inc. five years ago, publishers have had to continuously react to market changes. Mobile, video, fraud and viewability have each disrupted and transformed the media seller’s calculus.

But none of those trends has had header bidding’s impact on the underlying structure of digital ad sales.

“In the last year, header bidding has moved control of ad serving back to the publisher,” McDonald says in this episode of AdExchanger Talks. “The evolution is putting publishers back in a place where they’re controlling the tension around access to their impressions. That is where margin is created [through] limited or controlled access to their supply.”

It’s an upbeat story. McDonald says mobile publishers implementing header bidding have seen yield improvements as high as 46%.

But header bidding has been tough on many sell-side platform companies, which have endured their own margin compression.

“Is the SSP still relevant?” he asks. “I think what’s relevant is companies that are independent and capable of bringing revenue management capabilities to people who care about holistic management of their asset.”

Also in this episode, McDonald talks about the impact of publishers getting smarter about ad tech, PubMatic’s opportunity to sell against Google and the emergence of private deals.

“Programmatic started being about auction,” he says. “Now it’s about the bigger ‘A’: automation. For the publisher, you’re going to want to put more human intelligence to work alongside the machine learning.”

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