In April, the IAB Tech Lab introduced two new technical specs for public comment, sellers.json, and the OpenRTB SupplyChain object. The IAB is hoping to use these specs to increase trust in the digital advertising supply chain, specifically on the programmatic supply-side of the industry. The goal is to build on the momentum generated by ads.txt and app-ads.txt to achieve transparency, brand safety, and trust in the digital advertising ecosystem.
You can read more about ads.txt and app-ads.txt here and here, but in summary, these standards provide a mechanism for content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory, ultimately deterring the sale of counterfeit inventory and cracking down on domain spoofing. While ads.txt provides the advertising system (generally an SSP or exchange) and the publisher’s account ID on the advertising system’s platform that are authorized to sell the inventory, it does not reveal the names of the entities associated with the account IDs — their identities remain opaque. That’s where sellers.json comes in. Likewise, given the complex array of companies often involved in transacting an impression opportunity in the open market, ads.txt alone made it difficult to keep track of how inventory gets resold as it was never intended to identify all the intermediaries that participate in the reselling of ad space. That’s where the OpenRTB SupplyChain object comes in.
What is sellers.json
Sellers.json picks up where ads.txt ends by making it easy for a buyer to determine the identity of a seller. Tech platforms will post their sellers.json files at the root of their domain, following the same format as Ads.txt (spotx.tv/sellers.json, for example). This publicly available file lists the account numbers and associated publisher identities that operate on that advertising system.
Sellers.json also introduces operational efficiencies. The file size of bid requests won’t increase as information is looked up and cached offline rather than provided in each bid request. The IAB Tech Lab has also chosen JSON formatting instead of TXT to make it easier for systems consuming sellers.json to parse the information.
What is the OpenRTB SupplyChain object?
The SupplyChain object enables buyers to see all parties who are selling or reselling a given impression opportunity by providing a record of the chain of custody. Composed primarily of a set of nodes, with each node representing an entity involved in the transaction of the impression, the SupplyChain object lists all entities that were paid as part of an impression opportunity from beginning to end. With this additional transparency into the supply chain, buyers can determine if they are ok doing business with each of the intermediaries. They can also gain insight into just how meandering a path the impression took before it was offered for sale to them and if there is a more direct way to transact.
How do sellers.json and the OpenRTB SupplyChain object work?
Advertisers and agencies can use the combined information generated from these two standards to understand what they’re buying, empowering them to be more confident and comfortable in their purchases. The specs play complementary roles, extending transparency throughout the entire supply chain, including SSPs and exchanges.
How to start planning for adoption
Although the specs are not fully finalized, SpotX is moving forward to support each initiative and we recommend you do the same. The OpenRTB Working Group accepted feedback through May 10, 2019 and is now mulling over the feedback and making any necessary changes before releasing the final spec.
The reason that you should move forward now is that DSPs have indicated they will begin decisioning off of sellers.json and the SupplyChain object as early as Q3 of this year. As such, SSPs and exchanges should begin investigating how to implement both specifications, and advertisers should reach out to their DSP to understand how they plan to support both initiatives, and how it could impact and inform their buying strategy.
To view the specifications for sellers.json and the SupplyChain object and to learn more visit the IAB Tech Lab’s website.
This article was written by Leah Brite, senior director of product marketing at SpotX