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Solution Specialist at Improve Digital | ads.txt

Q4 is here! So is Ads.txt, here’s how to be ready to give buyers what they need

With the IAB’s recent roll-out of Ads.txt, buyers are not just clamouring for digital content providers to adopt the protocol, but will start weeding out content providers who don’t as early as Q4 of this year. Ads.txt is set to simplify the buying landscape, open the door to transparency and reward honest trading. That means content providers should start acting now to give their buyers what they need to combat the fraud that hurts their businesses and the industry as a whole. As part of our mission to support our customers’ best interests, we’re reaching out to help you implement this potentially game-changing standard and secure revenue.

What’s going on

Ads.txt is basically about disarming the ability for illegitimate sellers to commit ad fraud. Widespread ad fraud siphons money out of the digital advertising ecosystem and hurts the bottom line on both advertiser and publisher side. Nobody wants a situation like last year’s Methbot operation. That saw somewhere between $3-5 million in advertiser ad spend go to bogus premium domains, robbing publishers of that same amount in revenue.

This IAB initiative – which stands for Authorized Digital Sellers – will benefit everyone in the digital ad ecosystem. It will guarantee ad spend and brand safety for advertisers, and inventory control and protection against counterfeiting for content providers.

Coming soon

Ads.txt is an IAB-approved text file that content providers place on their web servers. The file lists all the companies authorised to sell the publishers’ inventory. This file allows buyers to verify if the inventory they purchase is genuine.

Ads.txt file looks like this:

Buyers are already pushing for publishers to publish their Ads.txt files so they can verify the inventory they receive. DBM has, for example, already announced that they will look to only inventory validated by Ads.txt as soon as the end of October, and more buying parties, such as AppNexus and The Trade Desk, will soon be following suit. The process of verifying inventory is likely to be further increased by the IAB releasing an open source Ads.txt crawler, which anyone can use to read Ads.txt files. Although buying platforms haven’t yet released their own crawler solutions, buyers likely already feel more comfortable purchasing inventory from ‘authorised’ sellers.

We are also monitoring Ads.txt files using the IAB’s crawler, and working directly with publishers to provide support on this initiative

What to watch out for

Implementing this standard is relatively simple – essentially, it’s just placing a text file on your web server. We’ve seen content providers making spelling mistakes and listing the wrong information, so definitely check first with sellers and update the file carefully. If the information is incorrect, you might miss out on revenue later.

What to do now to ensure you won’t lose revenue

Implement Ads.txt as soon as possible, that way you can ensure you’re not missing revenue opportunities when buyers start using it. If you’re working with Improve Digital and need more info about Ads.txt, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help!

For more information


As a Solution Specialist at Improve, Harry is responsible for delivering advertising solutions to key enterprise publishers in the UK through Improve Digital’s platform, 360 Polaris. Alongside this, providing insight to the company into working with publishers, from both an operational and product perspective, and participating in the IAB UK Ad Ops council.