In the world of ad tech, it should surprise no one that our industry is subject to fraud in various forms. Trying to combat fraud can often leave all legitimate parties feeling like they are playing a game of whack-a-mole. However, despite the uphill battle against fraud, there are industry organizations like the IAB and companies like SpotX committed to the fight. So what is ads.txt?
Ads.txt is a new specification, recently released by the IAB, to increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. The “ads” portion of ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers and the initiative offers a method to deter the sale of counterfeit inventory.
How did we get here?
Ads.txt was brought about because of the all too common problem of domain misrepresentation, also known as domain spoofing. Domain spoofing, where unscrupulous and fraudulent sellers falsely represent the domain an advertisement will serve on, is a problem for both buyers and sellers. Unbeknownst to buyers, it can lead them to purchase counterfeit inventory, and legitimate sellers to have their reputation tarnished while also losing out on advertising dollars.
How does ads.txt work?
Ads.txt offers a flexible and secure method for publishers and distributors to declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. To do this, publishers add a lightweight text file to their domain that includes a list of all companies authorized to sell their inventory. Buyers can then crawl the web for a publisher’s ads.txt file and verify that the seller is authorized by the publisher.
What happens if a publisher does not implement ads.txt?
If a publisher does not implement ads.txt, it is assumed that anyone is authorized to sell their inventory. As ads.txt is adopted across the industry, this could be problematic for sellers as buyers could decide to use ads.txt to dictate their buying behavior and only buy from authorized sellers. Failure to incorporate this file and add all authorized sellers to it could lead to a decrease in ad revenue.
How do publishers implement ads.txt?
SpotX supports ads.txt and recommends that all publishers and resellers take the steps necessary to work with ads.txt. Visit the SpotX Developer Center today for documentation on how to implement ads.txt.
Amanda O’Hara, Manager, Product Marketing