Ad fraud has been a constant theme of online advertising and has often showed little sign of slowing down. Industry research reveals that it costs the digital ecosystem about $6 billion per year, with many online advertising companies completely unaware that it’s even happening. For years, companies have looked at a range of possible solutions to combat this billion dollar problem, but as they say, sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones, and a new IAB project called ads.txt is an example of this.
What is Ads.txt?
Ads.txt is an initiative developed by the IAB Tech Lab, aimed at combating certain types of ad fraud, mainly domain spoofing and illegitimate inventory arbitrage, and providing transparency in what is a highly opaque industry. It 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.”
While ads.txt revolves around advertising, the ads part is actually an acronym that stands for Authorized Digital Sellers.
What problem does Ads.txt solve?
Piracy sites, websites riddled with bot traffic, and other shady websites often use domain spoofing as a way to monetize sites that would otherwise be blacklisted or ignored by advertisers and brands.
The reason this fraudulent practice has existed for so long is because it’s hard for advertisers to confirm that the information passed in the bids is correct, meaning they can not verify if their ads actually appeared on the sites they say the ads did.
Now, thanks to ads.txt, domain spoofing and selling illegitimate inventory have become a lot harder.
How does it work?
Publishers drop a text file on their web servers that lists all of the companies that are authorized to sell the publishers’ inventory. Similarly, programmatic platforms also integrate ads.txt files to confirm which publishers’ inventory they are authorized to sell. This allows buyers to check the validity of the inventory they purchase. The files are publicly available and crawlable by buyers, third-party vendors, and exchanges.
What are the benefits for publishers?
- Protect your brand and your revenue by preventing bad actors from spoofing your domains.
- Reassure advertisers on your inventory quality and authorship to allow them to buy with confidence.
How do I create an ads.txt file? (For Infolinks)
Create a file as a text (.txt) and host it at the root level of your domain, for example, https://hello-sunil.in/ads.txt
What information goes in an ads.txt file?
Include a separate line in the file for each authorized seller. Each line in a publisher’s ads.txt list requires three pieces of data (plus a fourth optional field):
<Field #1>, <Field #2>, <Field #3>, <Field #4>
FIELD #1: Domain name
FIELD #2: Publisher’s account ID
FIELD #3: Account type (DIRECT/RESELLER)
FIELD #4 (Optional): Сertification Authority ID, if available.
Add the following lines to your ads.txt file:
You can get updated ads.txt for Infolinks from here.
After it notify Infolinks once you are done so that they can confirm that it was done correctly.
If you haven’t already implemented ads.txt, we encourage you to do it as soon as possible. It’s easy and quick. Getting this done will ensure you earn as much revenue as possible.
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