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Google ends its 'last look' exchange bidding advantage – how will it impact on header bidding?

Alex Spencer

Google's diagram illustrating the exchange bidding process

Google has reportedly changed the way its ad server works, to  remove the 'last look' advantage it previously gave to its own exchange.

The Exchange Bidding in Dynamic Allocation (EBDA) feature, currently in beta, puts the final bid from DoubleClick's AdX in alongside all the other participating exchanges in a single unified auction. This is in contrast to the previous method, which saw the AdX bid submitted after all of the rest, giving it a chance to narrowly outbid the winner of the original auction.

Adexchanger spotted the change in an EBDA support document, and had it confirmed by  Google director of product management Jonathan Bellack.

“We are collecting the price each exchange would pay, including AdX, and then putting it in a unified auction where the highest price wins,” said Bellack.

It's a potentially huge change, given that Google's former 'last look' approach contributed to the rise of header bidding, one of the biggest advertising trends of recent years, and a shift that threatened to topple Google from its dominant position in digital advertising. Publishers adopted header bidding because it can result in higher yields, and because it promised higher transparency, and exchanges were keen to follow suit because it reduced the chance of their bids being beaten by the company which controlled the entire ecosystem.

Google's Bellack acknowledged that both sides preferred the EBDA change, viewing it as a more "fair way to make competition".

Whether this simple change will stop the development of header bidding in its tracks remains to be seen – watch this space for all future developments.