Domain spoofing is still a big problem on the open web, especially for highly-ranked sites that have done an excellent job at earning the trust of their audiences.
And even though ads.txt was created to thwart bad actors from performing arbitrage, domain spoofing, clickjacking and ultimately messing with legit publishers’ revenue, Independent Ad Fraud Researcher, Dr. Augustine Fou says. “The usefulness of ads.txt to reducing ad fraud depends entirely on fraud detection actually checking for this mismatch and ad exchanges actually not transacting on the ads when they detect it. Evidence shows fraud detection is not catching it and exchanges are not enforcing it.”
As well, publishers need a clear understanding of how their ads.txt file will be used by the buy side. As well, buyers should understand the proper uses of ads.txt and its complement sellers.json. Besides domain spoofing and clickjacking, invalid entries in ads.txt can result in site latency, unsuitable ads, redirects, throttling, and inefficient supply paths.
That’s why ads.txt maintenance is so important.
Charles Eggleston, Director, Yield & Operations, 33Across, shares why it’s important to keep Ads.txt files up-to-date and how to keep them clean.
Why Publishers Need to Keep Their Ads.txt Files up to Date
Lynne d Johnson: At the end of the day, the main incentive for publishers to keep their Ads.txt files up to date is that not keeping them up to date could result in lost revenue. What else should publishers know about keeping their Ads.txt files up to date?
Charles Eggleston: There are some important steps publishers should take to ensure they’re optimizing their ads.txt file capabilities. First, let’s talk about the top reasons they should keep those files up to date, and then we can talk about the steps they should take to get the most out of their ads.txt file.
- Receive more advertiser spend — Platforms are always updating default buyer settings, so updating your ads.txt files ensures you are eligible for all platform ad campaigns. If more advertisers have the capability to bid for ad space, this results in more revenue. Sometimes, DSP and SSP partners sunset or update their ads.txt lines, so you always want the most up-to-date lines to prevent any loss in revenue. A regular cadence of updating your ads.txt will ensure you know who is authorized to sell your inventory and guarantee you are not leaving ad dollars on the table.
- Buyer verification — If your ads.txt files are up to date, buyers can confirm they’re buying from a reliable source. You should remove any seller or reseller that you no longer work with so that they’re not being represented in your inventory to buyers.
- Earn more cookieless revenue — Unlike highly-competitive cookied reseller lines, cookieless reseller lines drive competition to your under-monetized inventory. Don’t miss out on demand from over 10 DSPs that target your unaddressable inventory.
Steps Publishers Should Take to Keep Their Ads.txt Files up to Date
LdJ: What tips do you have for publishers to keep their ads.txt files updated?
CE: There are three main steps publishers should take to keep their Ads.txt files in check.
- Conduct regular monitoring — You should Check if any partners are missing or if there are mistyped numbers, symbols, etc. These seemingly small issues could, quite literally, cost you. Errors or missing ads.txt lines could lead to consistently low buyer bid rates. Low bid rates lead to fewer ad impressions or low fill rates which then leads to lower revenue.
- Maintain ongoing vendor communication — Check in with your most valued SSP partners on an ongoing basis; schedule quarterly business reviews, to learn what’s new, what’s bringing you value, and what’s potentially not working.
- Cookieless reseller lines — I’d like to reiterate that unlike resellers for cookies, cookieless reseller lines increase competition for your undervalued supply.
Remember, ads.txt provides transparency in the ecosystem to highlight who is a legitimate partner authorized to sell your inventory. If your file is improperly setup and not maintained, you risk blocking potential advertising partners from running on your site.