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IAB Tech Lab Launches Assault on Illicit Advertising Inventory

New Tool Will Shut Spigot for Counterfeit & Unauthorized Impressions

Association Intensifies War Against Untrustworthy Supply Chain

NEW YORK, NY (May 17, 2017) – The IAB Technology Laboratory today announced a new means to eliminate the black market for digital advertising inventory, offering a tool that will prevent the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions in programmatic transactions.

This new tool, known as ads.txt, is a pre-formatted index of authorized sellers that publishers can post to their domains. Programmatic buyers can then use these publisher ads.txt files to screen for fake or misrepresented inventory.

“Ads.txt can take both the ‘fake Rolexes’ of digital ad inventory and our industry’s ‘luxury handbags that fell off the back of a truck’ out of circulation,” said Alanna Gombert, Senior Vice President, Technology and Ad Operations, IAB, and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “With the introduction of this simple supply chain safety tool, there will be no excuses for bad impressions flowing through our ecosystem.”

“The criminals who profit from digital advertising do their dirty work in the dark,” said Mike Zaneis, CEO, Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), the industry supply chain safety organization that was founded by the IAB, the ANA, and the 4A’s. “The ads.txt tool will help publishers shine a light on the legitimate sellers for their inventory, so brands and agencies will know when they are dealing with a legitimate programmatic reseller, and when they are not. It adds another vital component to our collaborative industry-wide efforts to validate legitimate companies, add transparency to inventory, and ultimately stop criminals from defrauding our industry of billions of dollars.”

Zaneis also committed to referring ads.txt to TAG’s Business Transparency Committee to increase adoption of the tool across the industry.

“Brands will be able to confidently purchase authentic, verified inventory, once ads.txt is adopted across the programmatic landscape,” said John Montgomery, Global Executive Vice President, Brand Safety, GroupM. “It will be a game-changer in establishing the kind of transparent, safe, market that advertisers seek from digital media.”

“Ads.txt is a significant milestone in alleviating one of the most critical challenges for publishers in the digital marketplace,” said Tim Mahlman, President, AOL Platforms. “It will clear out the wheat from chaff, and increase confidence in programmatic buying and selling for all stakeholders involved. The entire industry will benefit from this increased transparency and trust.”

“This new solution elegantly addresses the issue of counterfeit inventory, where advertiser’s spend does not reach the intended publisher,” said Scott Spencer, Director of Sustainable Ads, Google. “It provides a clear means for publishers to safely and transparently benefit from programmatic channels, without fear of inventory misuse—it is crucial to ensuring a thriving digital advertising ecosystem.”

“Recurring issues around brand safety, fraud, and media quality undermine trust in the industry and advertisers deserve a real response that moves us beyond the next crisis,” said Chris Bell, Group Product Manager, Inventory, Adobe Advertising Cloud. “The IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt is a positive step that should benefit both buyers and publishers, ensuring broad adoption across the industry. We’re proud to support the initiative. Ultimately, software can mean more control and transparency for advertisers—not less—and ads.txt is a great example of that.”

The public comment period for ads.txt will run through June 19, 2017, after which the IAB OpenRTB Working Group, which developed the tool, will evaluate the comments received. It will then make any necessary revisions, and release a final version. Comments are being accepted via email to

Ads.txt was released at the IAB Programmatic Symposium, in New York City. To review the open standard and technical spec, please go to

About IAB Technology Laboratory
The IAB Technology Laboratory is an independent, international, nonprofit research and development consortium charged with producing and helping companies implement global industry technical standards. Comprised of digital publishers and ad technology firms, as well as marketers, agencies, and other companies with interests in the interactive marketing arena, the IAB Tech Lab’s goal is to reduce friction associated with the digital advertising and marketing supply chain, while contributing to the safe and secure growth of the industry. The organization’s founding member companies include AppNexus, Google, GroupM, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, LinkedIn, PubMatic, Sonobi, Tremor Video, Yahoo, and Yahoo! JAPAN. Established in 2014, the IAB Tech Lab is headquartered in New York City with an office in San Francisco.

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg