It’s time for another “What is?” post! With a little help from our AdOps Team here at Choozle, we’ll break down what ads.txt is and how it’s a big facilitator for increased brand safety, transparency and flexibility — and how it’s a big player in reducing domain spoofing.
Simply put: Ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers. It’s a simple, flexible, and secure method that publishers (websites) and ad buyers can use to declare the companies that are authorized to sell their digital ad inventory.
Ads.txt was created by IAB Tech Lab o make it harder for fraudulent sellers to tout bogus inventory across ad exchanges. By creating a public list of Authorized Digital Sellers, ads.txt creates increased transparency and gives publishers more control over their inventory in the market, making it harder for bad players to sell fraudulent inventory. As publishers adopt ads.txt, ad buyers will be able to more easily identify the Authorized Digital Sellers for a certain participating publisher, allowing buyers to be confident that the inventory they’re purchasing is authentic.
Key takeaway #1: In order for ads.txt to really do it’s job, both publishers and ad buyers need to play along – or it’s not going to work.
Choozle Director of AdOps Kendra Rizzo said, “Ad fraud is a prevalent part of the programmatic industry and both the buy and supply sides need to work together to prevent and limit fraudulent activity in the space. A lot of this can be helped by the usage of advanced metrics and diligent prevention tactics that can be aided further by the widespread adoption and implementation of ads.txt.”
Where does domain spoofing, specifically, come into play?
Many publishers have fallen prey to something called domain spoofing, which is a subset of ad fraud where re-sellers label fake inventory as that of ESPN.com, for example, and then resell it on exchanges to media buyers. The fraudsters then pocket that cash when the inventory is sold.
According to AdAge, “Domain spoofing is by far the largest threat to the digital advertising ecosystem.”
On the flip side, however, Choozle CPO and co-founder Jeffrey Finch points out that “failure is often the driver of innovation,” and “Not only is eliminating ad fraud altogether too costly, but it also doesn’t allow for innovation in a changing market or true learning within a programmatic ad campaign.”
Key takeaway #2: There’s no denying that ads.txt is a great solution, but there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ad fraud as a whole, and we might not want it that way, either.
How does ads.txt come into play within the Choozle platform?
Finally, for those of you wondering how Choozle deals with ads.txt (we don’t blame you!) it’s actually in the hands of our partners. Luckily, many of our partners were early adopters of the ads.txt project and are committed to radical transparency and trust. To chat more about it, feel free to shoot us a message.