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Enhancing Trasparency with ads.txt Files

 

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As everyone knows, IAB has recently launched ads.txt, a text file whose mission is preventing unauthorized inventory sales. By creating a public record of Authorized Digital Sellers, ads.txt files aim to improve TRANSPARENCY in the digital programmatic supply chain.

When buying media programmatically, brand advertisers rely on the fact that the URLs they purchase were legitimately sold by those publishers. Nevertheless, the buyer still has no chance to know who is responsible for selling those impressions across ad exchanges.

While every impression already includes publisher information from the OpenRTB protocol, there is no record confirming:

  • who owns each Publisher.ID
  • the validity of the information sent in the RTB bid request.

This encourages the counterfeit inventory.

How do ads.txt files work?

Publishers create and upload their own ads.txt files to their website servers, to certify which ad exchange is authorized to sell their inventory. Inside the ads.txt file must be clearly listed all the exchanges that can legitimately sell the inventory of that publisher (website). The info necessary to identify a specific seller/retailer account within a given SSP are inserted in each line of the ads.txt file. Programmatic platforms also integrate with the ads.txt files to confirm which exchange is authorized to sell a specific inventory.

At Bucksense we are committed to providing a transparent safe market that our advertisers look for. We want to create a better advertising experience for everyone. By providing you with this solution, you prevent unauthorized impressions in your programmatic transactions.

What is included in an ads.txt file?

An ads.txt file contains a line for each authorized seller and each line includes up to four fields:

  • FIELD #1   Domain name of the advertising system   This field identifies the advertising system (e.g. SSP, Exchange)
  • FIELD #2  Seller account ID   This field contains the ID associated with the seller account within the advertising system
  • FIELD #3  Type of account/relationship   This field indicates the type of relationship: “Direct” indicates that the publisher directly controls the account /  “Reseller” indicates that the publisher has authorized another entity to control the account
  • FIELD #4  Certification authority ID   This field indicates the TAGID (Trustworthy Accountability Group ID), which identifies the advertising system.

Here is an example of ads.txt file:

google.com, pub-4177862836555934, DIRECT

Ads.txt compliance in US

According to Bucksense’s US based analysis, the majority of domains complies with ads.txt file project:

Besides, the variety of SSP is surprising: we have found 539 unique SSP inside the ads.txt. Looking at the single domains, ads.txt files show an interesting variety of SSP.

In addition to showing a good variety, a lot of top SSP are heavily present :

  • 95% of publishers analysed have Google as partner (87%  of whom are direct).

In spite of the heavy presence, Google is not a monopolist:

  • 93% of domains have other SSPs (e.g. Appnexus and Rubicon).

Once we look at the content of ads.txt files, the compliancy is pretty high:

  • 99.5% of publishers who have Google as SSP support ads.txt.

Bucksense stands for TRANSPARENCY in the digital programmatic supply chain and that is why we strongly encourage all of publishers to implement ads.txt on their domains.

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