Announcing the formation of an independent Prebid.org

(This post originally appeared on the AppNexus blog. It has been lightly edited for clarity.)

This week, we’re pleased to announce the formation of Prebid.org: an independent organization dedicated to open source tools that drive publisher monetization.

We sat down with Michael Richardson to answer a few questions about why Prebid.org is being launched as an independent entity and what it means for publishers and vendors. Michael is a Product Line Manager at AppNexus and Chairman of Prebid.org.

What’s the background on Prebid.org?

Prebid.js has been a transformative piece of technology for our industry. It makes it a lot easier for publishers to do header bidding, choose which demand partners they want to work with, and quickly add new ones at will.

Given how much header bidding has benefited the digital ecosystem – including advertisers and consumers – we want to bring it to as many different publishers and vendors as possible. It’s so important to us that, rather than backing a proprietary solution, we want it to be a group effort. We want to work together with the rest of the industry to keep driving header bidding adoption and effectiveness.

That’s why we’re launching Prebid.org: a coalition to champion open-source header bidding and its ongoing development. Prebid.org will act as an independent voice on how publishers should interact with programmatic, help ensure that header bidding remains fair and transparent across all parties affiliated with Prebid, and continue to develop and work on features like we do today.

Why are openness and transparency so important with header bidding?

We’ve governed Prebid in an open-source manner since the beginning of the project, so thematically, this is nothing new. The Prebid.org coalition allows us to make this a more concerted group effort. We can bring together talent from different ad tech providers and solve problems together, rather than work on them independently or focus only on our own companies’ offerings.

But let me also answer your bigger question about why openness is so crucial to the Prebid project in general. One of the core benefits of Prebid – and header bidding in general – is that it allows every advertiser an equal chance at every impression. Open-sourcing Prebid makes it easy for everyone to see that there aren’t any tricks or biases happening in the wrapper, proving to users that the benefit is really there.

Beyond that, open-sourcing Prebid makes it easier for the industry to adapt as it changes, since the users of Prebid are the ones driving new features and functionality. It’s also made it easy for new companies to work with Prebid. There are over 80 demand partners with adapters available for Prebid, and multiple analytics companies who have built extensions for Prebid. Only an open-source project can reach such broad adoption.

I think you see these values – fairness, adaptability, openness to new partners – reflected most in Prebid.org’s Wrapper Code of Conduct. The code is a set of rules and principles that govern how we think all wrappers should operate. We want to build a consensus around what wrappers should and should not be doing so that publishers and demand partners can trust that their wrappers are treating them fairly.

Who is part of Prebid.org?

We’re launching with Rubicon Project to start. They’ve contributed a ton to Prebid already – some great additions to the project have come from the AppNexus and Rubicon Project teams working together.

Moving forward, we envision many other partners joining Prebid.org. SSPs, analytics providers – pretty much any ad tech vendor who works with publishers and supports header bidding will likely come into contact with Prebid at some point. We’d welcome any of them to join Prebid.org and collaborate with us.

Should current Prebid users expect any changes?

There will be no changes to functionality in the short term. In the long term, we hope that users will see Prebid continue to get better and better. Getting more people involved is the best way to foster the creation of more tools to support more use cases and generally ensure Prebid is easy to use.

Any parting tips for publishers using header bidding?

Header bidding has unlocked huge revenue gains for publishers, but they need to stay on top of the latest trends to keep getting the most out of it. I have two key tips for publishers to set themselves up for long-term success with header bidding.

First, don’t just use header bidding for display only. Channels like video and mobile app are really heating up right now, and header bidding can make them even more lucrative for publishers.

My second piece of advice would be to put a lot of thought into the demand partners you work with. As the existence of our Wrapper Code of Conduct suggests, we as an industry have nailed down the basic criteria for what a wrapper ought to do. The next problem every publisher needs to solve is building a roster of partners who bring them unique demand without compromising user experience.