Fighting against domain spoofing will help publishers and advertisers alike
Ads.txt (Authorized Digital Sellers) is an IAB project aiming at eliminating counterfeit and unauthorized inventory. Its main goal is to fight against domain spoofing: buyers can verify if the seller (who sends the publisher URL (domain) in bid requests) is legitimate and authorized to sell inventory (impressions) originating from this publisher URL. The mission of the ads.txt project is simple: Increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers and 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.
Ads.txt tries to solve one of the most pressing problems in the industry today: the domain spoofing fraud. The implementation will ensure that those actors who don’t add value to the advertising chain, will disappear. Middlemen will take less of the margin, and both publishers and advertisers will see an increase in the value of their investment and content. DSPs, SSPs and publishers and everyone in our industry need to move forward with ads.txt so we can get “bad guys” out of equation. 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.
How it works?
- the publisher hosts a text file named ads.txt at the root level of the publisher’s domain (e. g.: https://example.com/ads.txt); the file is public and crawlable by buyers, third party vendors, exchanges etc.
- in the ads.txt file, the publisher declares each authorized seller with the domain name of the advertising system, the publisher’s account ID in the advertising system and the type of relationship
- the buyer crawls this ads.txt file on a regular basis; from the file’s content, the buyer compiles and maintains a database which stores lists of authorized sellers for each publisher (domain)
- finally, buyers can check if the publisher URLs (domains), domain names of the advertising system and the publisher’s account IDs received in bid requests match with the data stored in the database; in case of a mismatch, the buyer may consider the bid request as fraudulent and take appropriate action
Q&A with Chief Quality Officer Gorka Zarauz of Smart Adserver
The market is increasingly adopting ads.txt technology. In the interest of Quality, Smart AdServer is advocating all its publishers implement the ads.txt file on their website. Chief Quality Officer Gorka Zarauz of Smart Adserver sheds some light on Ads.txt and how publishers can make the most of it.
Do you have any tips for publishers?
Yes: take action now! Once we enter in the Q4 craziness, there is a sense of urgency that arises. It’s best to get going now and make sure ads.txt is properly integrated before it’s too late. ads.txt is very easy for publishers to implement, but it’s a bit harder for a DSP. It will be up to Publishers and SSPs to put some pressure on DSPs and advocate for this implementation in their technologies.
Work closely with your SSP(s) and resellers: it’s important for them to know when a Publisher implements ads.txt. More important, publishers need to make sure their partners stand by them during the process to ensure that the inventory is being sold only by the selected resellers.
Make sure buyers recognize publishers’ inventory and commitment. Publishers will lose out in the end if buyers don’t identify the inventory as a good content to include their ads. If that happens to any publisher, they should reach out to the reseller(s) and buyers to solve the problem as soon as possible.
Are there any disadvantages for publishers?
I guess the right question is, “Are there any disadvantages for being transparent in the marketplace?”. For those publishers who aren’t transparent, yes there are a lot of disadvantages and revenue loss.
Even though it’s true that DSPs haven’t implemented ads.txt at a full scale yet, once they get all the industry push, especially from publishers, they’ll begin to do so. But there’s no a disadvantage for a publisher to have it implemented right away.
Ads.txt isn’t the solution to the ad fraud problem. Some in the industry are criticizing it because it solves one problem and not all quality issues the ecosystem has today. But we need to start somewhere to solve this problem, nobody learned to run without walking first.
What happens if publishers don’t implement ads.txt?
It’s too early to say if all publishers in the market will lose revenue if they choose not to adopt ads.txt. However, once all the major DSPs start taking ads.txt into account, industry standards will change. When buyers take a look at a site and do not find the ads.txt file, they’ll think twice before purchasing a publisher’s inventory. Down the road, they’ll decide that the safest bet is for them to buy impressions only where they see an Ads.txt file.
Basically, if publishers want to continue monetizing their sites, they’ll will be forced to do adopt ads.txt. Moreover, the entire digital advertising industry benefits when transparency is increased, and domain spoofing and fraud are eliminated.
Smart AdServer remains committed to combating fraud and ensuring the highest Quality marketplace for buyers and sellers. If our industry fails to improve the ad-tech ecosystem, we risk eroding the trust of buyers, which hurts everyone.
Read more about:
– how to implement ads.txt with Smart AdServer
– more about ads.txt from the IAB tech homepage