The initiation of the tool ads.txt is considered the latest initiative in the programmatic advertising industry to support transparency. This initiative is currently attracting a wide global support and shift to fully adopt it. It is noticeable that almost any form of a business within the programmatic advertising industry is rushing to clean up the supply chain within the scope of their position in it, as well as to cement their place within the same chain.
In May 2017, the IAB Tech Lab introduced the ads.txt tool as an additional step to further organize the programmatic advertising industry. This tool aims to dust off the illegitimate and prohibited sale of inventory that is led through domain spoofing and inventory arbitrage.
In support of the IAB Tech Lab initiative, VidMatic produced a tool to generate the ads.txt file that enables publishers to create, update and confirm the file and the parties associated with the publisher.
What is ads.txt & how to implement it?
The most direct way to explain what is ads.txt, is by describing it as a text file that is pre-approved by the IAB & the IAB Tech Lab, which is intended to prevent any unauthorized sale of inventory.
The ads.txt file is acquired through partners that have a tool to generate the file according to IAB Tech Lab-approved practices. Then, publishers must drop the file on their web servers that lists all the authorized entities to sell the publisher’s inventory. In other words, a list of inventory resellers that have only direct relationship with the publisher.
At the same time, the authorized entities that are engaged with publishers directly, such as SSPs, will have the ads.txt file on their programmatic platforms to create a two-way inspection panel allowing buying partners to buy authorized, high-quality inventory by enhancing the validity checkups.
Technically, if a selling-platform and its publishers both apply the ads.txt tool, the buying process through instantaneous RTB will initiate a crawl to inspect their tags originated by the buying partners. The purpose of this crawl is to verify the presence of the ads.txt and that the sale transaction is legitimate and authorized.
Of course, manual checkups are available through www.domain.com/ads.txt. Nonetheless, the IAB Tech Lab released a crawler that fetches all ads.txt files from publishers’ websites in case a buying partner does not have their own web crawler.
Why should you implement ads.txt?
Inventory arbitrage and domain spoofing resulting in the illegitimate sale of inventory is considered a main threat to the programmatic advertising industry. Consequently, if advertisers through their buying partners do not have the access to buy from publishers directly, there is no other way to tell if they resellers (Sell-Side-Platform) that they are buying from is authorized to sell a publisher’s inventory specifically.
This tool, creates a stockpile for demand partners to decide which authorized resellers they want to buy from. So, going back to the simple rules of Supply & Demand in the economy, this will increase the flow of demand into the authorized channels of selling inventory.