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Ads.txt – Everything You Need To Know

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 authorized publishers.

Now, why is the buying side taking such a strong stand on this?


Arguably one of the most sophisticated ad fraud operations embezzled $3 to $5 million per day from the advertisers during 2016. And, it’s up to us to put an end to spoofers once and for all.

Methbot, the most profitable ad fraud operation to date, has spoofed 250,267 distinct URLs to falsely represent inventory

– WhiteOps.

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 2017.

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 to create Ads.txt?

There’s a syntax recommended by the IAB to list the partners and you have to create your ads.txt file by putting every partner into the syntax.

In the end, you’ll get a list of partners represented in a prescribed way.

Here’s how to create an ads.txt file.

How to implement ads.txt?

All you have to do is drop a text file on your 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.

How to validate Ads.txt?

At Automatad, we launched a tool to let you validate your ads.txt file. You can simply enter your domain or upload the ads.txt file you’ve created to validate.

Here’s how to run the validator.

Ads.txt Plus

Ads.txt will curb the spoofers but still, there’s a problem. Publishers have to update the ads.txt file every time a new seller has been allowed to sell its inventory. In addition, publishers have to remove the outdated resellers or sellers to prevent any loss of revenue.

As this is manual, ads.txt plus, a blockchain-based solution has been proposed by a private entity. Here’s what you need to know about ads.txt plus.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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