Ads.txt Adoption – August 2018
of Australian domains offering display advertising in programmatic ad environments have implemented ads.txt
(Source: IAB Australia – aggregated data from Amobee, AppNexus, Google, The Trade Desk and Sizmek)
Major Australian Media Agencies and Brands recommend buyers utilise the ads.txt solution when buying in order to combat fraud
What is ads.txt?
Ads.txt a secure, text-file based mechanism to address counterfeit inventory - by giving content owners and distributors a simple way to declare authorised supply sources for their ad inventory. This additional transparency provides advertisers and programmatic buyers a means to know and validate the authentic sources of media in real-time, making it much harder for fraudsters to profit from selling counterfeit inventory across the ecosystem. This also protects buyers from simple wastage within their campaigns strategies and the serious risks associated to brands inadvertently funding criminal activity.
What has been the progress thus far?
Since being launched in September 2017, ads.txt has seen rapid adoption by the digital advertising industry. There are over 2 million domains globally that are now using ads.txt files - and buyers are gradually becoming aware of the benefits of buying ads.txt inventory.
The IAB is working with key programmatic platforms in the market to track the level of implementation. As at the end of August 2018, 91% of Australian domains offering advertising in programmatic ad environments have implemented ads.txt. This research is based on aggregating all AU domains from four of the largest programmatic platforms – Amobee, AppNexus, Google and The Trade Desk.
The data shows that for display campaigns in Australia 91% of the domains that are being regularly bought against have implemented ads.txt as a solution. This is a very heartening figure for us all to know, stand behind, support and amplify further as a more standardised industry solution. The IAB will update this figure in 6 months to track progress of ads.txt implementation in this market.
What more can be done by buyers?
Buyers need to evolve their campaign targeting attributes to only buy from seller account IDs that are listed on a publisher’s ads.txt file. Buyers need to try and only buy inventory from authentic sources and any other inventory purchased is ultimately at the buyer’s own risk. Whilst adoption by publishers and platforms here in Australia has been very impressive, we are still seeing ads of all types being bought from fake domains. Many programmatic buyers are still not aware of this simple solution, or else are not always insisting on only buying ads.txt inventory from authorised sellers. The ads.txt solution cannot work as intended unless buyers take steps to cut out fraud - including taking the time to validate requests against the contents of an ads.txt file, not just acknowledging the presence of an ads.txt file.
What else is being done to protect the industry from this type of fraud?
The aggregator tool:
Available now is the IAB’s ads.txt aggregator tool. This delivers recent and structured file contents in aggregate of publisher-posted ads.txt files. Buyers who access the aggregator tool can simply take the contents of aggregated files and use this as campaign targeting data. Buyers can then cut out fraudulent supply paths with misrepresented inventory, saving campaign spend for authorized inventory.
OpenRTB 3.0 and ads.cert:
The next major IAB project in this space will be ads.cert. With ads.cert the authentication goes into a deeper level, where all the bid requests will be encrypted and authenticated so as to combat a much wider range of digital ad fraud (app/domain fraud, IP fraud; Device ID fraud, consent fraud and ad format fraud). However, ads.cert will only work with OpenRTB 3.0-compliant technology, which is currently being finalised. We have a local working group forming to review the initial specifications and this group, along with the appropriate councils, will support the future rollout of ads.cert here in Australia.
For any further information, questions or feedback - please contact Jonas Jaanimagi by email at email@example.com.
At PHD we believe that helping the industry develop as a whole can only be a good thing for us, our clients and our partners. We support ads.txt because the whole industry needs to take ad fraud seriously. That means backing the initiatives that are looking to eradicate it and as a result ensure there is greater value and trust in the digital supply chain.
The uptake by Australian publishers over the last 12 months is fantastic and we are seeing huge awareness amongst the agency trading desks and technology vendors. However, work still needs to be done to continue driving awareness of the benefits of ads.txt further up the chain at planning and buying agencies and with marketers within the brands themselves. Media is still being bought from fake domains resulting in wastage and genuine risk associated to brands inadvertently funding criminal activity. We will soon start the work on ads.cert, which will enable buyers to buy authenticated inventory in real-time. This is exciting, but to ensure we can competently fight fraud on all fronts as an industry - the education for programmatic buyers starts with ads.txt and the related benefits.
As a major advertiser, IAG supports industry standards which increase transparency in the digital trading ecosystem. We actively participate in initiatives to reduce and prevent ad fraud, and contribute to a more robust, sustainable and quality media environment. We support the introduction of ads.txt, which aims to help programmatic buyers avoid illegitimate sellers who arbitrage inventory and spoof domains. IAG will only buy via authorised channels, and will only buy programmatic inventory verified through ads.txt.
OMG are fully behind the IAB’s ads.txt initiative to increase transparency into the digital supply chain, and will continue to support as it evolves across device and environment to benefit the ecosystem. The supply side in Australia have done a great job to adopt the IAB initiative, and OMG recognise the buyside must now adopt a similar bullish attitude to ensure processes and platforms are rewarding publishers by removing non-approved resellers from our supply.
As performance marketers, Performics is extremely supportive of any initiative aimed at creating a more accountable and transparent digital advertising environment. Ads.txt is a fantastic tool to help provide a safer online experience for our advertisers and we whole heartedly encourage the adoption of it throughout the media world. Performics takes brand safety and ad fraud very seriously, and, as part of Publicis Media, we have been very close to the ads.txt tool since its development last year. The ease of implementation, and the significant benefits associated, make ads.txt an important priority for any publisher
It is so pleasing to see that over 9 in 10 Australian domains within the programmatic market have implemented ads.txt. This simple industry led solution has not only cut a significant amount of fraud in the market but is slashing the incentive for new fraudulent initiatives, this is resulting in publishers receiving the revenue they deserve and advertisers getting the ad placements they desired.