Ads.txt: All You Need To Know

Ads.txt: All You Need To Know

As with any new industry-wide development, ads.txt will take time to reach its full potential – which will require mass adoption-but some publishers and advertisers still do not understand the processes and benefits, so I have decided to write about it and let you know all there is to know about ads.txt.

Last year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) introduced an initiative called ads.txt, Authorized Digital Sellers. Ads.txt is a simple, flexible and secure method that publishers and distributors can use to publicly declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. The mission of ads.txt is simple: to Increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem.

Creating a public record of Authorized Digital Sellers, ads.txt will create greater transparency in the inventory supply chain, and give publishers control over their inventory in the market, making it harder for bad actors to profit from selling counterfeit inventory across the ecosystem. As publishers adopt ads.txt, buyers will be able to more easily identify the Authorized Digital Sellers for a participating publisher, allowing brands to have confidence they are buying authentic publisher inventory.

Ads.txt supports transparent programmatic digital media transactions and can remove the financial incentive from selling counterfeit and misrepresented media. Ads.txt can only be posted to a domain by a publisher’s webmaster, making it valid and authentic. As a text file, ads.txt is easy to update, making it flexible. The data required to populate the file is readily available in the OpenRTB protocol, making it simple to gather and target. And because publishers sell their inventory through a variety of sales channels, ads.txt supports the following types of supplier relationships:

  • Domain owners who sell on exchanges through their own accounts
  • Networks and sales houses who programmatically sell on behalf of domain owners
  • Content syndication partnerships where multiple authorized sellers represent the same inventory

How Ads.txt is solving problem across the Ecosystem;

As earlier stated, the ads.txt mission aims to prevent various types of counterfeit inventory across the ecosystem by improving transparency in the digital programmatic supply chain.

When a brand advertiser buys media programmatically, they expect that the URLs are sold by those publishers. The problem is, there is currently no way for a buyer to confirm who is responsible for selling those impressions across exchanges, and there are many different scenarios when the URL passed may not be an accurate representation of what the impression actually is or who is selling it. While every impression already includes publisher information from the OpenRTB protocol, including the page URL and Publisher.ID, there is no record or information confirming who owns each Publisher.ID, nor any way to confirm the validity of the information sent in the RTB bid request, leaving the door open to counterfeit inventory.

Note that “inventory fraud” in advertising is independent of how the traffic is generated. It can potentially include a mix of for example automated (non-human) bot traffic and real human user traffic. It can also exist as a small amount of authentic and valid inventory mixed with mislabeled inventory.

Here are a Few Ways Ads.txt Has Benefited The Industry

  • Now publishers are able to publicly communicated which SSP is allowed to resell its inventory. Buyers can now know which SSP is authorized to resell a publishers inventory. Ads.txt has  eliminated shady supply-side platforms (SSPs) and helps equalize revenue distribution and cost throughout the industry.
  • It helps improve inventory quality while restoring trust in programmatic. Unauthorized reselling has been a major pain point for programmatic advertising, causing many advertisers to lose faith in the process. With ads.txt, buyers have a way to verify that a programmatic exchange is authorized to sell inventory for any given publisher, which helps restore trust in the process while simultaneously ensuring better quality inventory.
  • Ads.txt will inspire solutions of this nature to solve other pain points in the digital marketing ecosystem.

How to Implement the Dochase Ads.txt

  • Ads.txt information already created will be sent to you by your account manager. The information will include;  the domain name of the advertising system, Publisher account ID’s, account relationship type’s (direct or reseller) and if available, the certification account ID for verified advertising systems. an example below;  dochase.com, 1xxx, DIRECT
    google.com, pub-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, RESELLER, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    google.com, pub-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, RESELLER, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    google.com, pub-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, RESELLER, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Step 2: Create the ads.txt file in notepad or any other document creation software according to the specifications set out by the IAB. Save and name the file ads.txt.

Step 3: Upload the file in the root of your domain not a subdomain as subdomains are not currently supported. An example would be http://www.dochase.com/ads.txt. (Keep in mind that this URL string is just an example and visiting the URL will yield no result.) Uploading the text file to your website should be self-explanatory, however, if you do not know how to do it get your webmaster to perform the task for you.

I hope you have found this very helpful as ads.txt is very important in the industry now, advertisers do not buy inventory without ads.txt. the sooner you adopt and start working with the ads.txt system the better for everyone in the industry.

If you encounter trouble with your ads.txt and need help, do not hesitate to reach out to your account manager.

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