What is Ads.txt and Why is it a Hot Topic Right Now?

Contributor, October 16, 2017

Intro to Ads.txt

Developed through the IAB Tech Lab project, ads.txt (Authorized Digital Sellers), is a tool created for publishers to allow for a public declaration of the companies approved to sell their digital inventory.

The IAB states on their website that the purpose of the tool is to “increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem.” Ads.txt aims to give publishers control over the end-to-end distribution of their inventory. The tool strives to eliminate counterfeit inventory (display, video and mobile ad units) from being sold across the ecosystem.

As more and more publishers adopt the Ads.txt tool, interested buyers will be in a position to evaluate requests being sent to their buying platform from websites, which in turn aims to raise confidence that the inventory they are seeking to purchase is 100% authentic and non-fraudulent.

At Oraki, we have already have an abundance of experience working with premium publishers seeking to maximize their ROI with Ads.txt.  If you would like assistance with Ads.txt, we can help you with everything along the way in addition to providing you with the finest premium monetization available for publishers.

How Does Ads.txt Work?

According to a recent article published by Ad Ops Insider, the process in which Ads.txt increases transparency and brand safety work like this:

Publishers put a file on their server that says exactly which companies they sell their inventory through.  The file lists partners by name, but also includes the publisher’s account ID.  This is the same ID buyers see in a bid request, which they can use as a key for campaign targeting.

Buyers use a web crawler to download all the ads.txt files and the information contained within on a regular basis and use it to target their campaigns.   This means buyers know that if they bid on request that comes from an authorized ID, it’s coming from a source the publisher trusts or has control over.  

Why is Ads.txt Important?

The emergence of Ads.txt marks a milestone in the industry and provides empowerment to publishers to take back control of who represents their inventory and brand.

Who is Using Ads.txt

According to the recent article published Ad Ops Insider, adoption of Ads.txt by publishers is growing quickly in 2017.

Through a self-created web crawler in Python, Kneen was able to deduce from a pool of 1,930 domains from the top 10,000 websites ranked on Alexa that approx. 13% of these publishers ranked in the top 10,000 websites listed on Alexa globally are publishing a Ads.txt file, including ESPN.com, WashingtonPost.com and CNN.com.

Kneen breaks down the types of publishers that are publishing files and their most common partners (Google is tops, unsurprisingly), and makes recommendations for how to improve on the Ads.txt concept.

Why You Should Know About Ads.Txt

The fight against fraud in the ecosystem appears be heating up as publisher adoption of the tool is increasing. Though only time will time how the ecosystem will look once both the Sell and Buy side integrate it into their products and processes.

Potential interim pitfalls include:

  • Drop in revenues for Publishers
  • Reduced reach for Advertisers

Other Useful Links:   

Where Can I Find Out More? https://iabtechlab.com/ads-txt/

How to Add to Your Website https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMPC3XK2LO0

IAB Explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW3AYYO9yYc

Ads.txt Overview by AdOps Insider – https://www.adopsinsider.com/ad-exchanges/ads-txt-adoption/