Ads.TXT - What you need to know

21/03/2018

After the recent Stop Press article regarding the IAB announcement that it's to work with publishers, agencies and tech vendors to implement ads.txt, which is a global IAB initiative designed to eliminate counterfeit inventory in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Head of Amnet NZ, Pete Sinclair, provides some clarity as to the rationale behind the move, the challenges it will help solve and what it means for Amnet and the wider market in regards to programmatic buying.

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Although the Ads.txt term maybe somewhat new to many in the NZ market, it has been an initiative that has been around for almost a year now. Launched in May 2017, Ads.txt is a text file that publishers can place on their web servers that’s lists authorized inventory sellers, with the focus on reducing unauthorized reselling and domain spoofing, which are still prevalent in programmatic advertising today.

 

The scale of inventory fraud in programmatic was again highlighted yesterday in a study conducted by News UK that identified that over the course of a month,  £1m worth of inventory being sold in the name of The Sun and The Times was being so fraudulently.

 

This example alone highlights the reason that this adoption is so important to the programmatic industry, with advertisers and agency brands becoming more frustrate at the lack of transparency and brand safety concerns that come with programmatic buying.

 

Although Ads.txt won't solve the issue of transparency alone, what it will do is help tackle two major issues that still exist within the ecosystem, namely domain spoofing and arbitrage. Domain spoofing works in two ways, either by using malware that's been installed on a user's computer or by changing the URL in an ad tag, whereas Arbitrage is a process in which impressions are bought and then repackaged and resold at a higher price by a third party, which although not fraudulent, is an approach more on the shady side.

Both methods produce the same result in that they trick ad exchanges and Programmatic Buying Platforms into thinking that the user is visiting a legitimate site, when in fact the ad will actually appear on a different, illegitimate site or displayed on a page in a hidden web browser, thus potential causing a potential brand safety risk for advertisers.

 

The move by publishers to adopt this initiative will help buyers identify who is an authorized digital seller for a participating publisher, which combined with DSPs now disabling buying from parties that are not directly identified through the publisher's ads.txt files as authorized resellers, will start the process of allowing brands to gain confidence that their programmatic buys are being delivered across authentic publisher inventory.

 

Amnet's responsibility within this is to ensure that all of our brands and advertisers campaigns are executed across premium, brand safe environments, to which, we will work with publishers and tech partners to help in the adoption process and going forwards align with those who have integrated the initiative into their offering.

 

If anyone has any questions surrounding the Ads.txt adoption please feel free to reach out.

 

 

Pete Sinclair / Head of AMNET NZ / T: +64  9 909 6415 - M: +64 (22) 0200 529 / peter.sinclair@amnetgroup.com / Level 3, 68 Sale Street, Auckland

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