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Buyers: This Simple Step Can Help Mitigate Ad Fraud

By Jennifer Derke

First launched in September 2017, ads.txt has seen rapid adoption by the digital advertising industry. There are over 2 million domains with ads.txt files, and buyers are committing to buying ads.txt inventory. However, full adoption of ads.txt requires that buyers are specifically validating each of the sellers they buy from against the publisher’s ads.txt file contents. The IAB Tech Lab’s aggregator tool is available to help buyers take the next step toward validating publisher ads.txt file contents.

With the recent release of ads.cert beta specifications, buyers might be tempted to skip implementing ads.txt. When finalized and implemented, ads.cert will help provide the next step in fighting fraud with authentication to trust inventory details. However, there is work to be done now in implementing ads.txt, as domain spoofing is still a problem the industry needs to solve. Buying from unauthorized sellers wastes campaign dollars. It is the IAB Tech Lab’s recommendation to prioritize implementation to buy ads.txt inventory from authorized sellers, as this is a simple and critical measure in fighting against domain spoofing that should not be overlooked.

As discussed last week, buyers need to not only check for the presence of an ads.txt file, but also shift media spend to only buy a publisher’s inventory from the authorized digital sellers listed in the publisher’s ads.txt file. In order to have a list of seller IDs to target, a buyer would have to crawl the web and then structure the data of ads.txt files. IAB Tech Lab has done this work for you by offering the aggregator tool.

The ads.txt aggregator tool 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.

To use aggregated ads.txt files, you can access the IAB Tech Lab tool via API or portal login. Over 2 million domains with ads.txt files are aggregated and made available in structured, gzipped, .csv files. Subscribers can use ads.txt aggregate files to deliver enhanced reporting to clients or as input in targeting to reduce media spend on fraudulent inventory.








Jennifer Derke, Director, Product Management, IAB Tech Lab