Header bidding refers to an innovative, smart service for online advertising. It facilitates concurrent, automatic real-time bidding for ad spaces on online publishers’ websites and thereby supports online publishers’ in their efforts to tackle Google’s dominance in the online advertising market. Interdisciplinary service science research on the opportunities and challenges of smart header bidding services is still scarce. To this end, we analyze a comprehensive dataset, covering header bidding solutions and connected supply-side platforms, for the top 20 German website publishers. We carve out requirements for establishing header bidding as a successful smart service in the digital arena and offer some guidance on how to design and take advantage of header bidding services for monetizing publishers’ online content. We further suggest that publishers must monitor rising header bidding substitutes, such as Google’s exchange bidding, to secure sustainable value creation from header bidding as technology-based service transformation in the digital world.