A kitten? No. And it’s not a puppy either (although, that would be nice). The best thing you can adopt this year is Ads.txt. Unfortunately, it’s not as fluffy as a kitten and it won’t go for walkies. But, it can soon become a man’s (or woman's) best friend.
This year, P&G’s Marc Pritchard called the digital advertising industry out on it’s lack of transparency, claiming it’s “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst”. But the IAB (the Internet Advertising Bureau) have developed a tool (released in May earlier this year) to help clear the murky waters.
What is Ads.txt?
It’s an IAB-approved tool that can be used to authenticate websites and prevent unauthorised inventory sales.
Why should you care?
This tool removes fraud from the sell side by preventing domain spoofing.
Domain spoofing is when a site is made to resemble a real and established website. This practice allows publishers to misrepresent low quality inventory as coming from high quality sources.
The Financial Times recently investigated domain spoofing against their site and found shockingly high levels: “They estimated the value of the fraudulent inventory to be £1 million a month.” However, this won’t affect their revenue anymore as they’ve recently started using Ads.txt and their inventory can be authorised by buyers.
Also, as you’re probably more than aware, we’re on the cusp of the busiest time of year, so there’s no better time than now to get friendly with Ads.txt.
What are the advantages?
Ads.txt is free to use (and who doesn’t love a freebie?)
This is a step further towards a fraud free web
Increases transparency in the whole industry
Opens up communication between all companies along the chain
Publishers: maintain your revenue
Advertisers: know exactly what inventory you’re buying
What are the disadvantages?
Apart from taking a small amount of time to set up…none!
Great! So how can you adopt Ads.txt?
You need to add an Ads.txt file to your site by adding “/ads.txt” on your root domain. It’s essentially adding an extra page on your website.
This page will contain the information that the ads.txt crawler will use to verify authentication.
This set of data is a list of advertising systems, such as DSPs, Exchanges etc. that are allowed to buy inventory on that site. This will include their domain names, a unique publisher account number and the type of account (direct/reseller).
coull.com, 12345, DIRECT #banner
google.com, 23456, DIRECT #banner
appnexus.com, 34567, RESELLER #native
Why do we love Ads.txt at Coull?
Ads.txt fits in with our company ad fraud ethos:
We think that implementing Ads.txt throughout the whole industry will bring more transparency and teamwork and will help fight the battle against those nasty fraudsters.
So, what’s next?
The IAB are looking to make Ads.txt mandatory soon, so the earlier you can implement it, the better. Companies all along the chain are already saying they only want to work with Ads.txt publishers. Don’t lose out on your revenue for something that is free and so simple.
For more information on Ads.txt, visit the IAB Tech Lab.