Buyers will be able to authenticate verified sellers across publishers. There is broad support for industry-wide adoption.
Last updated on December 6th, 2017 at 08:55 am
Today our webmasters alerted us to a strange Red alert warning from Google Adsense plus our website visitor logs kept showing repeated requests from several Affiliate bots like Amazon Affiliate bots trying to find an ads.txt file on our server. All alarms went off because these seemed unusual. What is Ads.txt? If this has happened to you too, dont be alarmed.
In this article, I will explain it all and How to be back on the good side of Adsense in no time.
Repeated attempt from Amazon Bots to find our Website’s ads.txt file
What is Ads.txt
Ads.txt is an anti-fraud initiative initiative developed by IAB Tech Lab. The solution enables publishers to declare publicly which sellers are authorized to sell their advertisements in a file posted to their domain root. Like a robot.txt file, ads.txt ensures trust because the file must be posted to the site by the publisher. Publishers can also update the text file easily with data available in the OpenRTB protocol.
In this example, a publisher lists three exchanges as authorized to sell their ads. A buyer can verify if the exchange and publisher ID match what’s in the authorized sellers list in the ads.txt file.
Programmatic buyers can then scan ads.txt files to compile lists of authorized sellers for each publisher in order to screen out untrustworthy impressions and verify the authenticity of impressions being sold. Ads.txt was developed by the IAB OpenRTB Working Group, and in addition to publishers, it supports ad networks, exchanges and content syndication partnerships in which multiple authorized sellers represent the same inventory.
“Some advertisers care a lot about making sure that we’re not buying fraudulent inventory, and for those I think it will be as soon as Q4 that we start to say, ‘We’re only buying through Ads.txt-enabled publishers.’ Something like that is going to need to happen sooner than later to actually push the publishers to where they need to be,” said DigitasLBi’s VP and director of programmatic, Liane Nadeau
“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, who is senior vice president of technology and ad operations at the IAB and general manager of the 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.”
In an effort to boost adoption, Mike Zaneis, CEO of the industry group Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), is referring ads.txt to the group’s Business Transparency Committee.
“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,” said Zaneis. “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.”
Creating an ads.txt file for Your website & AdSense
Here’s how to create an ads.txt file to publicly declare that Google is authorized to sell your ad inventory:
Create a text (.txt) file.
Include the following line:
google.com, pub-0000000000000000, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
Important: Make sure you replace pub-0000000000000000 with your own publisher ID.
Host your ads.txt on your root domain (for example, https://example.com/ads.txt).
Here, “root domain” is defined as one level down from the public suffix list, which is how it’s defined in the IAB ads.txt specification. For example, “google.co.uk” would be considered a root domain as “co.uk” is on the public suffix list but “maps.google.co.uk” would not be considered a root domain.
These steps describe how to create an ads.txt file for Google AdSense publishers. For other SSPs/exchanges, visit their respective documentation on creating an ads.txt file or contact them.
Frequently asked questions
Q: I see an alert about my ads.txt file in AdSense. How do I check which of my sites has an incorrect ads.txt file?
A: If you see an ads.txt alert in your account, you can visit your My sites page to see a list of impacted sites.
Q: I can’t place a file on my root domain. What should I do?
A: You are not required to use ads.txt, and there will be no impact to your earnings if you don’t implement it. However, if an ads.txt file is added to your root domain, make sure you reach out to your webmaster and ask them to add your publisher ID to the file.
Q: How will ads.txt be enforced by Google?
A: Whenever an ads.txt file is posted on a root domain, Google will use the contents of that file to determine which Google seller accounts will be allowed to serve ads on that root domain.
When you request an ad for a particular site, we will check whether the root domain of that site contains an ads.txt file. If there is no ads.txt file, then there is no additional enforcement. If there is an ads.txt file and your publisher ID is correctly listed then we will run an auction and return the winning ad. If there is an ads.txt file and your publisher ID is not correctly listed, then we will not run an auction for that request.
Their system automatically checks for new and updated ads.txt files. Note that if you update or remove an ads.txt file it may take up to 24 hours for Google’s systems to register your changes.