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What is Ads.txt?

What is Ads.txt
In order to curb ad fraud, the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab introduced ads.txt. How's it going so far? Let's see.

Recently, MarketingLand published an article about advertisers getting aggressive about enforcing Ads.txt on publishers. Also, Liane Nadeau, the VP and director of programmatic at DigitasLBi published an open letter to all the publishers giving an ultimatum that if by the beginning of the Q4 in 2017, the publishers do not use ads.txt, they might lose some of the advertisers, resulting in a decrease in the yield and also claimed that the advertisers will run their ads only on the authorised publishers.

Now, why is the buying side taking such a strong stand on this? Here’s why, ever since the Methot incident in 2016, where the advertisers suffered heavy losses to an invalid traffic, ad fraud has been a growing concern in the adtech industry.

Ad frauds are still prevalent and the industry is in dire need to get the supply chain cleaned up. It not only results in a loss for the buyers but also tarnishes the brand image of the publisher and in the process gets the publisher blacklisted and in some cases, they have to shut down.

In order to curb ad fraud, the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab introduced ads.txt in May

What is Ads.txt?

Ads.txt is a publicly available text file where a publisher lists partners authorized to sell and resell its digital inventory. Buyers can then crawl the web for those lists to check the validity of the inventory they purchase. In the open letter, Liane Nadeau has explained ad fraud and ads.txt with a metaphor.

“It’s a tricky concept. Let’s try a metaphor. It’s a lot like counterfeit bags. You don’t want anyone selling fake versions of your premium bag on Canal Street, as it cheapens your brand and you lose a potential sale. We as buyers don’t want to be duped into buying a fake bag because it’s of poorer quality. So, if you publish a list of retailers that are authorized to sell your bag, we can check it out to make sure we buy one that’s legit. Everybody wins.”


How can one implement ads.txt?

All you have to do is drop a text file on their web servers that lists all of the companies that are authorized to sell the publisher’s inventory.

Similarly, programmatic platforms also integrate ads.txt files to confirm which publishers’ inventory they are authorized to sell. This allows buyers to check the validity of the inventory they purchase.

Here’s a link that contains the specs mentioned by the IAB. Some SSPs like AppNexus and DoubleClick AdX have published documents to make it easier for their publisher partners to implement.

As per the analysis by Martech today, out of the 500 most trafficked sites in the US, only 34 have implemented the ads.txt on their website. Now the possible reasons for the majority of the publishers for not using this on the website could be because anyone with an internet connection can verify the publisher’s authorized sellers.

It may give off too much information resulting in a decrease in their demand since some of the publishers are getting their demand from the unauthorized resellers. Implementing ads.txt could cut off their demand from these resellers.

We may be biased towards the idea of using ads.txt on the websites because we believe prevention is better than cure. What is your take on using ads.txt? Do you think this will help curb the fraudulent activity?

PS: We are trying to understand the issues/concerns of a publisher, would be great if you could take this survey and let us know about your concerns.

Automatad Team

Brought to you by the brains of Automatad, Inc. Throw in your thoughts in and let us improve.

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