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Why keeping your ads.txt file updated will help boost fill rates and increase revenue long term

There’s been a lot of talk in the past couple of years around ads.txt in the adtech and programmatic advertising ecosystems. In 2017 the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched the ads.txt initiative with the goal of reducing ad fraud and increasing transparency in the programmatic advertising environment.

In this article, we’re going to explore exactly what ads.txt is, who’s using it, how it works and why it’s important for the advertising industry in general, but more specifically, why publishers must have this file updated in order to increase revenue.

First things first. What is ads.txt?

Ads.txt, or “Authorized Digital Sellers,” is a simple text file that allows digital publishers to authorize who can sell their ad space. It’s a flexible and secure method developed by the IAB for publishers and distributors to publicly declare companies they have authorized to sell their digital inventory.

The IAB initiative was established to prevent unauthorized inventory sales and help prevent counterfeit inventory from being presented to advertisers.

In particular, ads.txt aims to tackle domain spoofing (a type of ad fraud) and arbitrage, a process in which impressions are bought, repackaged and resold at a higher price by a third party. Ads.txt helps solve these problems by indicating the authorized resellers of a publisher’s inventory.

Who is using ads.txt?

According to Pixalate’s Trends Report Q2 2018, ads.txt adoption increased 5.4 times in 2018 from 90,000 domains to over 500,000, while by Q4 2018, sites with ads.txt had 23% less invalid traffic (“IVT”) than sites without ads.txt.

Which players are adopting ads.txt? All the top guns—40% of the Alexa 1000 now have implemented ads.txt, 75% of top programmatic sites—as well as small to large publishers alike. This is one bandwagon you want to be jumping on.

The top 3 advertising systems using ads.txt as reported by FirstImpression.io are Google with a 94% share, also the most common “Direct” partner, followed by Rubicon Project and AppNexus with 84% shares; AppNexus is the most common “Reseller” on ads.txt files.

How does it work?

Programmatic buyers can crawl the web and generate a record of all Authorized Digital Sellers with inventory they’d like to purchase. When a buyer receives a bid request from inventory on one of these domains they can verify the sale using the information contained in the ads.txt file.

Brands and advertisers can check which publishers have an ads.txt file under their domain and view its contents by simply adding “/ads.txt” to the end of the root domain, e.g. newyorktimes.com/ads.txt.

Iab Tech Lab.com explains ads.txt

Photo: IAB Tech Lab

Here are 4 easy steps to correctly implement your ads.txt file

1. Double-check that you’ve included all existing demand and ad partners in your ads.txt file

2. Verify that every authorized seller has the correct Account Network ID

3. Make sure you have the most up-to-date file from every partner (you can always find the updated Viralize ads.txt file in your Dashboard)

4. Maintain the ads.txt file. Every authorized seller constantly updates their records. It’s your responsibility to stay on top of updating the file. This free tool helps with ads.txt maintenance.

Skipping any of these steps can significantly decrease your ad revenue.

Read more on how to create and update your ads.txt file as a Viralize publisher.

How ads.txt impacts publishers' revenue

Ads.txt has become the gold standard to combat domain spoofing and ensure quality inventory. Having an ads.txt file means you will be eligible for all ad platform ad campaigns (more buyer demand) and will avoid losing future ad revenue as platforms change default buyer settings.

Without an ads.txt file, it is likely that less and less ad demand will be available when a major ad network changes its default settings to favor verified ads.txt inventory. In fact, more and more demand-side platforms are only considering ads.txt verified inventory; it is becoming a must-have if you want to successfully monetize with many platforms and networks.

Not implementing your ads.txt file labels your site as less “trustworthy” with programmatic buyers but also means it will be excluded from monetization opportunities from all participating platforms in the ads.txt initiative, resulting in a huge reduction in earnings.

If this file isn’t properly set up, you may end up blocking ad partners from being able to display ads on your site.

Here’s why ads.txt is a fundamental step when becoming a publisher in the Viralize network.

Additional Ads.txt Resources

If you need some extra resources that explain in detail how to create, implement and update your ads.txt file, here ya go:

Free Ads.txt file manager to manage, update and maintain your ads.txt file
IAB Tech Lab - Ads.txt Authorized Digital Sellers
IAB Tech Lab - How to create and post an ads.txt file

For Viralize Publishers

English
How to update your ads.txt file in WordPress
Where can I find the correct data for my ads.txt files?
Why is it necessary to have an ads.txt file?
I already have an ads.txt file on my site. How do I insert the lines for Viralize?

Italian
Hai un sito in WordPress? Ecco le istruzioni per aggiungere un file ads.txt.
Dove posso trovare il file ads.txt e come posso aggiornarlo?
Come mai è necessario avere un file ads.txt?
Ho già un file ads.txt sul mio sito, come faccio a inserire le voci di Viralize?

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