- Ad tech company AppNexus has announced that it is automatically enforcing publishers’ ads.txt files by disabling buying from unauthorized sellers via the AppNexus Programmable Platform, per a news release.
- AppNexus began enforcing the ads.txt policy on Jan. 24, when more than 80% of the top 1,000 domains available in the AppNexus marketplace had an ads.txt file, an increase from the two-thirds in November 2017. AppNexus’ scale of inventory has allowed buyers to meet goals with little change, per the company.
- As an early promoter of ads.txt, AppNexus encouraged publishers to add the file to their web servers and created a free tool to help them ensure that the ads.txt files were accurate and current. The Interactive Advertising Bureau rolled out the ads.txt initiative in May 2017.
The news suggests that ads.txt has been adopted widely by publishers, meaning brands can feel more confident when using programmatic buying that their ads won't appear on fraudulent sites. Enforcing ads.txt allows AppNexus to promise a greater level of brand safety for buyers as the company disables buying through its Programmable Platform (APP) from those not identified as authorized sellers. Along with the announcement about enforcement efforts, AppNexus has also unveiled new policies to streamline the refund process for buyers who have purchased invalid traffic on APP.
"Lack of transparency into the programmatic supply chain has hurt our industry immensely and harmed programmatic to hit the full potential it has to offer," Pim van Boekhold, head of programmatic buying, Greenhouse Group, said in a statement. "The enforcement of ads.txt is an important step forward as the industry comes together to work toward end-to-end transparency across the programmatic supply chain."
As of late last year, only 20% of publishers were using ads.txt to prevent ad fraud, according to MediaRadar research. Larger sites have moved quickly to adopt the technology, but general adoption has been slow. Fighting ad fraud and increasing transparency can only be achieved when marketers and publishers embrace tools like ads.txt, which the AppNexus news suggests more are doing.
AppNexus isn’t the only platform enforcing ads.txt compliance. The Trustworthy Accountability Group, an ad industry anti-fraud initiative, has updated its guidelines to require publishers to adopt ads.txt. Creating an industry standard will advance programmatic advertising transparency, as it will allow publishers to identify and label companies that are authorized to sell on their sites.
In November, Google began blocking purchases of unauthorized inventory identified by ads.txt, which has increased the cost of digital ads sold through its platform. For marketers, who may have been rethinking their digital investments because of issues of brand safety and ad fraud, paying a higher impression rate may be worthwhile, especially when they can be guaranteed that the ad is being viewed by people rather than a site with bot-triggered impressions.