Ads.txt, a text-based file, was brought into the programmatic advertising ecosystem by IAB Tech Laboratory in May 2017 to prevent fraudulent applications and unauthorized inventory sales. For this purpose, the transparency deficiencies among ad buyer, seller, and programmatic inventory provider were aimed to be eliminated.

Viewed from a historical perspective, fraudulent applications that are known as ad fraud have always been a problem in the world of digital advertising. In fact, approximately 6 billion dollars are spent every year to prevent this problem, according to some sources. In this sense, there have been studies to produce possible solutions for many years. One of these solutions is the ads.txt which is the new project of IAB Tech Laboratory.

So, what kind of solutions in terms of security does ads.txt offer?


What Does Ads.txt Mean?

Ads.txt which is the abbreviation of Authorized Digital Sellers was fully designed to overcome the transparency problem in the advertising ecosystem. This means that ads.txt is a simple, flexible, and secure method that enables publishers to open the companies to the public which are authorized to sell their inventories.

Used by gradually increasing publishers and buyers, ads.txt allows brands to trust the originality of the impressions they purchased. In addition, it enables publishers to have more control over their inventories.

What Problem Does Ads.txt Solve?

Ads.txt aims to overcome unjust earning and domain spoofing which is a kind of advertising fraud in principle. The unjust earning lies within the process in which the impressions are bought and later repriced by a third party company to be sold again for a higher price.

Ads.txt assists publishers to overcome this problem by allowing them to authorize companies that will sell their inventories. In this way, domain spoofing and improper ways of selling inventory can be largely prevented.

How Does Ads.txt Work?

It is extremely easy to use and update the ads.txt file. First, publishers need to create a .txt document through a text-based software. The names of all exchanges, ad networks, sales representatives or SSPs that will be authorized to sell inventories need to be written in this file.

After that, publishers must log in with their credentials that consist of letters and number and select an account/relation type. After logging in with a certification authority ID, publishers must save all the information and name the file ads.txt. Thanks to this file, it becomes quite easy to verify the connections between exchanges affiliated with advertisers and sellers, and the authenticity of inventories.

To summarize, there are three mandatory parameters and one optional parameter in the format of an ads.txt file. The following example may help to understand the ads.txt file format better:

1) Domain name of the marketing network (mandatory)

2) The individual publisher account ID (mandatory)

3) The account classification DIRECT or RESELLER (mandatory)

4) Certified Advertising System Certification Account ID (optional)

In addition to all these, it shouldn’t be forgotten that all parameters must be separated with a comma and that the format above must be applied in the same way for every partner in another line.