Managed wrapper vs Inhouse Solution: What setup is best for my Ad Stack?

Posted by Oscar Bole on

What are header bidding wrappers for?

A wrapper is a tag on the webpage that will help the publisher run the auctions by asynchronously calling the demand partners and receiving the bids. By managing all the header bidding partners, they allow publishers to setup up rules that will help to ensure that the auction is running smoothly. Thanks to the wrappers, it becomes manageable for publishers to maximize the number of demand partners they would like to have in their auction. That being said, every publisher will at one point face an important decision. Is best for them to come up with their own wrapper or should they choose a managed wrapper instead?  It is important to note that there are also nuances in terms of the extent of the wrapper’s job. It is possible for publishers to work with a wrapper that has either a hands-on or a hands-off.


Different types of wrappers

We can differentiate three types of wrappers on the market today. First, there are open-source wrappers, such as Prebid. Second, we can find proprietary wrappers that belong to various actors of the industry, usually the top SSPs. These are often criticized due to lack of transparency and the fear as a publisher of seeing the SSP prioritizing itself in the auction. Although they are very rare, we could also mention here publisher-owned wrappers. They are custom-coded and are usually not based on prebid. Finally, there are managed wrapper solutions. As Prebid has become a widely accepted standard, most managed header bidding wrappers are built on top of it these days. That way, publishers can trust the wrapper and save a lot of resources to focus on their content instead of the complexity of their monetization.

For publishers who do not have the required adops resources, managed wrapper solutions can be a very good workaround. But keep in mind that it is the dream scenario for publishers to have their own internal solution, and many have achieved this goal already.

Building or buying, what’s the difference?

As a publisher with limited resources, it can be tricky to know whether you should go for a managed wrapper or invest the time and resources to create it on your own. On one hand, it is tempting to get a functioning tool quickly up and running by paying for a wrapper, although some are free of charge. No dev team is required in that case and the publisher does not necessarily need to be well informed about different modules and existing solutions on the market. This allows the programmatic teams to focus on the business directly. But on the other hand, going for that option means your partner will probably take a cut. And more importantly, when using a managed wrapper, you do not create any long-lasting value for your company.

You should keep in mind that one of the main drawbacks of working with a managed wrapper, is that if the contract were to end, you will be left with nothing. No tool, and no knowledge of how to run it on your own. You will also be dependant on the wrapper’s integrations for the process of adding new bidders to your stack. The well-known buy vs. build debate has taught us that it is common for the tools you pay a fee for to have pricing based on the quantity of data, and it is possible that the price increase from one plan to another will generate an incentive not to push it further. This might create unwanted dynamics in the company.

The beauty of Inhouse wrappers

Taking the time to create your own wrapper is an investment that in the end creates enormous value, and allows publishers not to be too dependant on other solutions. If you are able to build an in-house solution, you will have full control over your ad stack. Not all publishers manage to get good control of it and this lack of control can be harmful when trying to optimize the stack in the best possible way. Next, publishers who do not rely on a managed wrapper are not dependant on those to integrate new modules or bidders. This implies having strong knowledge of the existing solutions on the market, but complete freedom in the choice of partnerships.

When you come up with your own technology, it is usually tailor-made to fit your need. At Pubstack we have seen some clients experiencing issues due to the lack of coherence between their managed wrapper’s solution and their actual needs. Building your own technology is difficult. Whether you should go for a DIY solution or a managed wrapper on top ultimately depends on your team and resource availability.

What it takes to come up with an Inhouse solution

Publishers need a dev team to take on the project of building an in-house solution.  It can also be demanding in terms of the level of attention and optimization that needs to be dedicated to it. Some publishers won’t be able to onboard some demand sources on their own due to their size.  For these small publishers, the use of a managed wrapper can be very precious as it grants the possibility to get in touch with some SSPs that would otherwise not talk to them.

The process of adding new integrations will sometimes take more time for publishers on their own, but being on your own can also limit the amount of back and forth. They will not be relying on their partner’s actions. So in reality the integrations time can be balanced out between a publisher running an in-house solution and one using a managed wrapper. Publishers who manage to surpass these challenges, create enormous long-lasting value for their business.


How to choose?

As mentioned above, the amount of traffic coming from your website is an important factor to consider. Without enough of it, you will have trouble getting in touch and signing deals with SSPs. But there are other things you can look at to decide what is best for you.

Header bidding can sometimes affect the user experience of your websites. With higher loading times for example. If the loading time of your pages is already high, it can be worth it to get some help from a managed wrapper. It allows publishers to ensure that the prebid tag is being loaded instantly and limits the delay in page speed. Many users expect pages to load in less than 2-3 seconds. In fact, studies show that after 3 seconds of loading, 50% of the users will leave the page, and over 90% of them will bounce if the loading time is higher than 5 seconds. It is one of the primary factors leading to page abandonment. If the user experience and page loading speed of your sites are not at a good level, it is usually not recommended to try to create your own solution.



Part of the reason why adtech is exciting relies on the fact that it is an environment that is always evolving. This means that unfortunately, publishers cannot come up with an in-house solution and expect it to be running smoothly for years. Some optimizations are needed along the way. However, this should not discourage you from taking on the project. As mentioned earlier, many publishers have managed to successfully reach the dream scenario.

In a nutshell:

Choose a Managed Wrapper Solution if:

  • You are a small publisher likely to have struggle signing deals with big SSPs
  • You don’t have a lot of resources to do it on your own

Build your in-house solution if: 

  • You have a decent amount of traffic
  • You are in a position where you can allocate some of your internal resources to this project,

The reward will be worth the effort, and you will be reaping the fruits of your labor in no time!

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