Muki’s AdTech Diary April 2024

A Democratic Framework: Nurturing Health in the Ecosystem

Well, April has come and gone fast once again… What has happened this month? Half of the advertising ecosystem is gearing up for OMR, the cookie phase-out has been postponed again, and I had the pleasure to be at Prebid Ascent in London.There are plenty of looming changes and a lot of uncertain paths to choose. That’s why in this edition of my AdTech Diary, I’d like to talk about open-source communities, and specifically about Prebid.

During my time as a software engineer, I’ve been part of several open-source communities: from Eclipse Gemini to Scala, and even contributed to a few small JS libraries and Twitter’s Finagle. If you’re from Criteo or Adform, it’s likely that your data teams are utilizing software or tools that I either maintain or have contributed to. 😉 However, currently, Prebid is my absolute focus alongside my work at highfivve. And I really enjoy it.

Prebid has achieved something that, in my experience, is quite rare. They’ve fostered a genuine community comprising individuals and entities from various companies, collaborating in a truly democratic manner. I would estimate that 99% of open-source projects are run by the Benevolent Dictator for Life model, where a single individual makes all decisions and implementations. Typically, major projects are controlled by a single company, such as React by Meta, Node.js by Microsoft and so on.

Prebid is different

It began with visionaries like Bret Gorsline and Matt Kendall, who understood that collaboration on non-differentiating technologies was the only option to compete with giants like Google and Facebook. Prebid evolved into a community of SSPs, publishers, and other advertising technology providers, guided by the Prebid organization, and has become a stronghold for open standards and the open web.


Unlike other open-source projects, Prebid has a clear business objective, sustainable income through membership fees, and a functional governance model. The business objective is straightforward and can be found in Prebid’s code of conduct.

  1. Collaborative: free and open source
  2. Open and transparent: no black-box auction dynamics, bid biasing or hidden fees
  3. Agnostic: no adapter preferencing or inherent reliance on ad servers
  4. Performant: don´t kill the page


The membership fee is highly reasonable and is effectively utilized. Prebid now boasts a dedicated team of engineers working on prebid.js, prebid server, prebid mobile, and documentation. Marketing and management are streamlined and efficient. However, the most significant aspect is Prebid’s vibrant community from all corners of the advertising ecosystem, contributing in myriad ways. Discussions are open, and paths forward are forged. While this process can sometimes be time-consuming, cumbersome, and frustrating, it’s all part of the democratic process. Those affected are heard, considered, and given opportunities to participate. Consequently, Prebid has been embraced by nearly every publisher worldwide, attesting to its widespread popularity.

highfivve and Prebid

We’ve been utilizing Prebid since its initial version and have consistently contributed whenever feasible: incorporating GVL IDs (for TheTradeDesk even!), providing feedback on features, assisting other community members, addressing zero pointer exceptions in Prebid server adapters, and even introducing significant features. Additionally, I oversee the documentation PMC to ensure that the documentation remains current and comprehensive, containing all the necessary information for everyone’s benefit.

I can only encourage everyone to participate.If you are a publisher, you can learn and benefit a lot from being a Prebid member. Prebid is your voice for an open and transparent web. Feel free to write to me if you have any questions. Last but not least: The prebid documentation would love to see some new faces that help review PRs.

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