“Given how hard it is to implement SDKs, they stay in, even if they’re no longer performing,” Prusz said. “The value proposition for header bidding in mobile app is greater because it bypasses that byzantine waterfall and the publisher doesn’t have to redo their waterfall in order to access more demand.”
To use the header bidding solution, mobile app publishers have to implement the FastLane SDK. It borrows the same concepts as Rubicon’s desktop and mobile web solution but codes them for mobile. Publishers using Rubicon’s ad server, which came from its acquisition of Mobsmith, don’t need to use FastLane because the capability has already been built in.
FastLane also supposedly has unique demand. It plugs into more than 170 mobile buyers, including desktop-first DSPs. Many publishers are setting up private marketplaces through the platform, with Rubicon citing a 1,400% growth in the past year in mobile orders transacted through the platform.
Tribune Publishing, which recently switched to FastLane from Rubicon’s first-generation header bidding solution on desktop and mobile web, saw the biggest CPM bumps on mobile, consistent with Prusz’s assessment of a mobile marketplace with widely varied CPMs. It expects the same will hold true when it joins the beta test for mobile app header bidding. Tribune will launch FastLane on all of its metro news apps, including for the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune later this week.
“For us, header bidding is about a more holistic view of inventory,” which translates to better yield, said Lori Tavoularis, VP of programmatic and platforms for Tribune Publishing. That’s why the company is using header bidding across desktop, mobile web and now its mobile apps.