What is EBDA (Exchange Bidding in Dynamic Allocation)?

Brock Munro
March 21, 2021
June 28, 2024
What is EBDA (Exchange Bidding in Dynamic Allocation)?

Also commonly referred to as Open Bidding and Exchange Bidding, Google Exchange Bidding Dynamic Allocation (EBDA) is Google's server-side alternative to header bidding. 

Essentially EDBA is a server-side unified auction that enables exchanges and SSPs to compete with Google's Ad Exchange (AdX) for impressions. The unified auction occurs within the ad server and not the user's browser.

EDBA has been available to publishers since 2018, yet there is often still confusion about how dynamic allocation can most effectively be leveraged for server-side ad exchanges.

To help understand EDBA exchange bidding’s advantages, it’s important to learn what first led to its creation. Let’s get started.

Why was EBDA created?

Until 2016, Google's ad exchange (AdX) had demonstrable advantages over competing ad exchanges and supply-side platforms(SSPs) in ad auctions run on Double Click For Publishers (DFP), Google's Ad Server. Google Ad Manager had the capability to compete with publishers' direct sales team before any other platforms could access the auction. This meant that while AdX was running premium inventory, all other SSPs could only compete for unsold ad units.

The clear advantage to Google Ad Manager led to much frustration in other ad exchanges and SSPs and, subsequently, the creation of header bidding.

What came with the introduction of header bidding technology? It allowed multiple ad exchanges to simultaneously participate in a single auction, increase market competition among platforms, and augment publisher revenue.

The ensuing popularity of header bidding among tech-savvy media owners and publishers led to Google's creation of an alternative to header bidding: exchange bidding dynamic allocation (EBDA).

How Does EBDA Work?

The exchange bidding process works in the following way:

EBDA Exchange Bidding Process Infographic

1. The Ad Request is Triggered

When a visitor opens a webpage, the ad request is triggered. A request is then directed to Ad Manager using either Google Publisher Tags, the Google Mobile Ads SDK, or the IMA SDK. Along with this request, information is sent about the user, device, and targeting. 

2. Ad Manager Runs a Unified Auction to Determine Best Yield

Next, Ad Manager selects the best line item to compete via dynamic allocation in the unified auction.

Ad Manager determines the best fit ads for the eligible ad space, according to the ad's format, size, shape, and partner's traffic, and places them in a line.

From here, Google uses yield groups to identify the most appropriate list of networks and exchanges to participate in the auction, sending a bid-request to these demand partners.

Yield Partners submit their bids, with the highest and most eligible winning the open bidding auction.

Once dynamic allocation and the unified auction are complete, Google Ad Server returns the winning asset to the publisher's page for display.

Advantages of dynamic allocation exchange bidding

The advantages of are clear to see.

Firstly, the entire unified auction is handled entirely by Google Ad Manager, reducing time and making it far easier to implement than header bidding.

Secondly, Google is allocating ads dynamically and in real-time, making it an increasingly advanced ad-tech.

Open Bidding (EBDA) vs. Header Bidding

As with many elements of programming, the choice of whether to utilize open bidding or header bidding depends on many factors and often comes down to the publisher's preference and technological capabilities. 

Exchange Bidding offers partners unified reporting, billing management, and auction transparency via the Exchange Bidding Data Transfer file.

However, while Open Bidding is a unified process that minimizes complexity, Header Bidding offers publishers a more transparent auction process.

Ultimately, both Header Bidding and EDBA are designed to assist in getting the right ads in front of the right people at the right times to maximize ad revenue.

A combination of both header bidding and EDBA can be utilized side-by-side and then analyzed to determine the best yield for both the publisher and their partners.

How to Get Started with EBDA

To get started working with Open Bidding, publishers should first check whether their network is exchange bidding compliant.

If a publisher's existing ad network is one of Google's public exchange partners, they will be able to get started using EBDA immediately. If publishers find this is not the case, they can contact Google directly to learn more.

Publishers will also need to have a Google Ad Manager account set up in order to enable exchange bidding. 

Finally, publishers will need to create a company on which their demand partners can then place bids. This allows publishers to watch the auction and keep track of bids, yield, and revenue.

Alternatives to EBDA and Header Bidding

As already detailed, EBDA and Header Bidding both have unique characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. 

Publishers looking for an alternative to these options may want to consider Server-To-Server (S2S) Header Bidding.

S2S Header Bidding improves upon standard header bidding by moving the auction to the server-side, thus improving page latency.

The drawback of S2S header bidding is that it lacks the capability to match appropriate advertisers to the publisher's inventory.

Ultimately, all the currently available bidding methods still have some downsides for publishers working to increase their ad revenue.

Nonetheless, the last five years have seen a dramatic improvement in ad auction technology, offering greater competition, increased transparency, and ultimately the ability to drive ad revenue.

Moving from Header Bidding to EBDA and running a server-side auction may seem like a slight shift, but it can make a significant difference to revenue generation for yield partners. However, particularly if your existing ad network is not one of Google's public exchange partners, the functionality can involve some time and energy in its set-up. 

At Publift, we have worked with Google to launch Exchange Bidding across 50 publishers in Australia and New Zealand, resulting in significantly higher CPMS, a 3X higher Ad Manager response than standard and a 30% time saving for account managers.

As a certified Google Partner, at Publift we aim to give publishers the best possible results in the most efficient manner. Reach out to our friendly team to get started with EBDA today.

If you’re making more than $2,000 in monthly ad revenue, contact us today to learn more about how Publift can help increase your ad revenue and best optimize the ad space available on your website or app.

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