The online digital ecosystem has been under the microscope for years.  This “higher calling” in the digital space has demanded greater scrutiny and transparency across the board.  From the buyers to the sellers and the seemingly infinite number of middlemen in between. With the increasing number of players in the buying / selling ecosystem the industry has experienced an increase of bad actors sticking their nose in the game to take a piece of the enormous pie that is out there.  These bad actors are committing ad fraud which is costing advertisers and publishers Billions of dollars each year. You can read about ad fraud on ZDnet, Mediative,  CNBC and dozens of other sources … suffice to say, its a problem!!   Enter the IAB along with their efforts to bring some semblance of standardization to the ecosystem across a wide variety of areas.  

Ever since the beginning of the online/digital advertising that emerged from the more traditional forms of advertising that came out of print, radio and the television world — there has been an increased level of scrutiny on the performance and transparency of the digital medium.

Over the past 20 years of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in various working groups and committees to help provide input and shape guidelines and policies from a publisher perspective.  I’ve seen different initiatives, guidelines, etc roll out and be adopted with varying degrees of success. The one thing all of these initiatives had in common was how slow they were adopted and their lack of widespread use.  Introduced by the IAB, ads.txt has broken that model and quickly became the industry standard and norm.

So, what is it, why does it matter, and how should you implement it.  Lets dig in!!.

What – It’s a way to promote and improve transparency in programmatic advertising, leading to healthy buying/selling practices across the ecosystem.  It’s an easy way for a publisher to indicate to buyers who is authorized to sell their inventory.

Why – Fraudsters are gaming the system and spoofing legitimate sites.  Ads.txt is a way for publishers to identify the companies that are authorized selling agents of their site inventory.  This stops fraudsters from creating fake sites and generating revenue from advertisers who think they may be buying inventory from a reputable publisher but are actually funding the fraud.

How –  Implementation is super simple – part of the reason adoption took off quickly.   The set up simply putting a list of entries in the text file that reflects the authorized sellers.  This will typically be compiled by someone in the ad operations organization or the person who owns the relationship with the SSP’s you partner with as a publisher.  Lastly, the publisher must host the file with the necessary entries at the root of their domain.

Boom! You are now proactively and transparently letting buyers know that they can be comfortable transacting with you as a publisher.

More about ads.txt –

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