In 2017, 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.
The text file, posted on each domain or sub-domain owned by a publisher, indicates the only re-sellers, direct sellers or others who are authorized to represent that site’s inventory. The New York Times’s ads.txt file, for instance, will list the only re-sellers who can sell the space on its site, thus preventing fraudsters from selling space for which they don’t have the rights.
November last year, the IAB Technology Laboratory released app-ads.txt specification in beta, the much-awaited app guidance that can increase the pool of authorized digital advertising inventory while reducing fraud. Available for public comment through February 4, 2019, app-ads.txt is an extension of the original ads.txt standard that makes it possible for content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. With demand side platforms (DSPs), it allows buyers to confidently purchase through approved seller accounts. App-ads.txt applies this ads.txt functionality to ad transactions in mobile apps, as well as over-the-top (OTT) video apps.
The App-ads.txt was delayed by app stores unwillingness to providing support for the Tech Lab’s preferred solution of using metadata tags – essentially the developer’s App Store ID – within app store pages to create links back to an app developer’s website URL.
In June 2018, the Tech Lab issued guidance on how to implement Ads.txt within the app environment to nudge the process along.
Apple’s App Store and Google Play have yet to actually implement the official meta tags registered by the IAB, but the Tech Lab is pushing ahead anyway. Publishers can use a workaround to post their Ads.txt file, link it to a domain and expose it to buyers by piggybacking on a metadata field within the app stores.
The IAB Tech Lab encourages adoption of this beta specification for publishers and app stores, as minimal changes are expected. Not only is this specification based on one already in use, it incorporates feedback provided from proposed mobile app-focused solution strategies released in July 2018.
The benefits this has for Dochase demand(advertisers) and supply(publisher) partners; For publishers, only the owner of the app can make the link for the txt appear on the app domain, When publishers post an Ads.txt file they usually see an uptick in revenue, because bad actors can no longer easily spoof their inventory.
For advertisers; you know the inventory is being vouched for by the app store and that it’s going from the app store to a domain that provides a safe place to get authorized data from an Ads.txt file.