Open Source: Building the Future Roads of Programmatic Together

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Ongoing industry debates surrounding auction dynamics, ad fraud, inventory quality and supply chain optimization are more than just industry ailments. Rather, these topics are the prerequisites in the metamorphosis of programmatic from its history of direct response campaigns now moving to branding campaigns.

As programmatic matures and branding becomes the majority of ad spend flowing through programmatic pipes, there is a growing need for transparency, versatility and collaboration in how automated auctions are run. This is particularly the case in a world now dominated by header bidding wrapper technologies. While proprietary solutions can certainly have their advantages, I’d like to make a case for open source as the path forward for industry growth.

Open source projects have historically fueled innovation in the technology sector. For example, the Python programming language, which was released as an open source project in the 1990’s, has a highly extensible design which has allowed it to be adapted by everyone from YouTube to NASA. Because of its versatility, Python provides the building blocks for programming, laying a foundation for innovation. I believe coalescing on open source projects around header bidding wrappers could drive similar results for publishers.

With the influx of brand spend propelling growth in programmatic, and header bidding as the tool that is allowing publishers to capitalize on this expanding opportunity, we are at a potentially transformational intersection. At PubMatic, we believe collectively sharing our best ideas in an open source environment is the way to pave a path forward for industry growth. Here’s why:

  1. Access to demand. Proprietary black-box solutions typically provide publishers with 15-20 demand sources while open source alternatives can be well over a hundred. Plus, with open source, multiple developers and communities are working together. Companies now become contributors, so publishers have increased visibility into their auction dynamics. That’s the case with Prebid — a free, open source library and community, in which PubMatic participates, assisting publisher implementation of header bidding on their websites and apps.
  1. Open source aligns with header bidding objectives. Header bidding is all about democratizing the bidding process, making it more neutral and fair. Open source allows publishers to see how the technology works; this transparency places control of ad decisioning back in their hands. Open source wrappers also make the code verifiable. As the entire advertising industry becomes more transparent around fees and take rates, this transparency is imperative for publishers in header bidding as well.

PubMatic is a member of, which is an independent organization designed to ensure and promote fair, transparent and efficient header bidding across the industry. boasts members and partners who would ordinarily be rivals. Publishers will benefit from the spirit of collaboration and the momentum created from The more transparency we provide, the better marketers understand programmatic and the more brand spend we can expect to flow into programmatic.

  1. Pace of Innovation. Open source has enabled quick technological evolutions for publisher’s wrappers. In an industry that moves at lightning speed, remaining on the cutting edge is the number one priority. These efforts culminate in a faster release of new features and widgets based on user feedback.
  1. Publisher Independence. In contrast to the higher costs associated with proprietary options, open source solutions usually have a lower switching cost. A publisher using open source technology can more easily switch vendors to support and improve their installation as their needs change. Open source allows for the continued development of wrapper technology without relying on one vendor’s proprietary code base.

The evolution of programmatic and header bidding can result in getting closer to the goal of placing the right ad, in front of the right consumer, at the right time. Ultimately, using open source solutions will allow publishers to do what they do best: create great content that keeps consumers coming back and that advertisers want to align to their brands. Together, we can pave the path to a bright future for programmatic, publisher businesses, and the overall advertising ecosystem.

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