Chike Chukwuma
Jan 2, 2018

Wrapper solutions: Open versus closed

A look into the pros and cons of each programmatic strategy.

Wrapper solutions: Open versus closed
Open versus closed technologies solutions. A debate which has been going on within the industry since the advent of digital media. A notable and recent example is how the more open HTML5 and its related standards such as JavaScript overtook the once ubiquitous, and closed, Flash for various tasks such as rendering rich media, animation, and video on the internet. Now, the same debate is beginning to take shape in ad tech between open source versus proprietary header tags and wrapper solutions.
According to Digiday, more than 70 percent of US publishers are now using header bidding. A wrapper solution that allows for higher monetisation, reduced latency and increased control is vital for publishers. And the landscape is developing along two paths: proprietary or closed solutions offered by companies like Google*, Facebook, and Index Exchange and open source solutions such as PubMatic’s OpenWrap.
Choosing the right solution is critical for publishers. Incomplete solutions can result in inefficient operations, missing out on demand, the inability to scale, and a loss of control that makes your business less flexible into the future.
Weighing header bidding wrappers
Both open-source and closed wrapper solutions have clear benefits and drawbacks.
Open source solutions are characterized by their:
  • Greater transparency
  • Greater access to demand
  • Greater publisher control and independence
  • No level of enterprise support
  • No reporting and tools
Proprietary solutions are characterized by their:
  • Greater enterprise support
  • Greater access to reporting and tools
  • Lack of access to broad demand
  • Lower transparency
  • Lower publisher control and independence
Closed and proprietary wrapper solutions
Traditionally, many publishers have relied heavily on closed systems like Google (EBDA) and Amazon. This reliance is understandable. EBDA is attractive due to ease of setup, partner management, and reportedly relatively short payment terms. With Amazon A9, it is also the ease of setup, very low to no maintenance, and access to A9 demand.
Publishers should consider the short-term gains of these solutions while staying focused on the larger issues related to control and the long-term viability of their business. These popular wrapper solutions are, at the end of the day, closed systems. They are closed both in the technology they deploy and through the limited data they share with their publisher partners. The vendor/partner data publishers receive is important to drive the growth of their business and provide insights otherwise missed.
What doesn’t work
Several publishers I have spoken with originally either built their own custom solutions, or went with third-party proprietary solutions. Fast-forward several months, the publishers are finding it difficult to get supply partners to make upgrades to existing integrations or get new demand integrated.
For those that went with proprietary third-party solutions, they found that the product worked well and maintenance was taken care of by the solution owner. But what about continued development requests?
Requests regarding the wrapper partner’s demand are often taken care of immediately. If there are any issues with other demand operating in the wrapper, the publisher may end up waiting. You, as you the publisher, may not have the same priorities as your wrapper partner. Your timeline or roadmap may not match theirs. Additionally, many publishers have found themselves having to build and support custom reporting solutions. Or publishers have had to spend money on a reporting vendor with long integrations as they tried to refine the necessary analytics.
Seeing the pros and cons and experiences of publishers using these solutions, I have seen a few partners offer solutions that try to bridge the gap between open and closed, such as PubMatic. At PubMatic we developed OpenWrap, an enterprise wrapper solution for Prebid. Based on open source technology, it also leverages no cost enterprise support, reporting, and controls to better meet the needs of publishers.
What should you choose?
Whether a legacy publisher or newer media company, as publishers look to the future, the ability to leverage data and vendor/partner relationships will be a key driver to success. Open-source solutions first and foremost allow greater transparency while closed options allow for less visibility.
Publishers have a choice to make. Control should be at the center of that decision. Open, closed, or a combination of the two? Ultimately, an approach that combines the best of open source solutions with the best of closed solutions makes the most sense.
When developing their header bidding strategy, publishers should give serious thought to what control really means for them. Is investing in only one strategy worth the risk? Let us know how we can partner with you and provide the solid results of a hybrid approach.
*Google doesn’t have a header or wrapper but the integration between Adx and DFP achieves the same aims as header and wrapper solutions.
Chike Chukwuma is director, customer success at PubMatic 




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