The ongoing war against digital advertising fraud has moved up a gear with ADS.TXT

Earlier this month, the IAB Tech Lab finalised their latest update to the ads.txt specification. If you are unfamiliar with this, ads.txt stands for “Authorised Digital Sellers”, and it is a file which publishers/content owners can implement across their root and sub domains in order to declare who is authorised to sell their inventory.

The list of Authorised Digital Sellers that Ads.txt has created will give additional confidence to online advertisers that they are buying genuine inventory; it gives control back to publishers over their inventory in the market place, and therefore making it easier for fraudulent inventory to be identified. This in practise will facilitate unprecedented levels of supply chain transparency, however it requires the big players in the market to run with it.

Last Thursday Payam Shodjai, Director of Product Management at Google released a blog in support of the IAB Tech Lab and working toward a fraud-free media supply chain. Google have been working with the IAB closely, and announced that by the end of October DoubleClick Bid Manager will only facilitate the purchase of publisher inventory from sources which have been identified as Authorised Digital Sellers within its ads.txt file, when the file is available.

As Payam has alluded too, this can only work as a preventative tool if publishers adopt ads.txt in number, and whilst Google DBM has taken a huge step towards stamping fraudulent inventory out, the onus is now with the publishers to meet the IAB and Google half-way.

Google also announced last week that they developing more tools to identify and measure this problem:

1. Transparency on Filtered Fraudulent Traffic

In order for media agencies and advertisers to avoid fraudulent inventory, they require visibility on where it is in the first place. New reporting features available in DBM will inform buyers about where invalid inventory is being sold, so campaigns can be actively optimised away from it.

2. Automatic Refunds

When using DBM, if any identified fraudulent inventory has been bought through supporting partners, they have committed to provide refunds up to 30 days after monthly billing. Partners include AppNexus, Index Exchange, OpenX, Pubmatic, SpotX, Teads, Telaria and DoubleClick Ad Exchange, and together cover c.90% of the market available from DBM. In the coming months DBM will inform buyers which supply partners are supporting refunds, giving the option to only buy inventory through these suppliers and thereby safeguard advertiser budgets.

What are the Implications?

At SearchStar we have been using existing DSP proprietary tools as well as third-party tools to minimise fraud and ensure brand safety. These latest updates from DBM will help us go further in identifying fraud, and ensuring we are buying authentic publisher inventory whilst keeping media investment safe.