App-Ads.Txt Released for Public Comment by IAB Tech Lab as Next Step to Fight Digital Advertising Inventory Fraud


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November 30, 2018 – NEW YORK – The IAB Technology Laboratory today released app-ads.txt specification in beta, the much-awaited app guidance that can increase the pool of authorized digital advertising inventory while reducing fraud. Available for public comment through February 4, 2019, app-ads.txt is an extension of the original ads.txt standard that provides a mechanism for content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. With demand side platforms (DSPs), it allows buyers to confidently purchase through approved seller accounts. App-ads.txt applies this ads.txt functionality to ad transactions in mobile apps, as well as over-the-top (OTT) video apps.

In addition, app-ads.txt can help identify and block instances of unauthorized developer impersonation. The specification details how to get an app developer’s website URL from the app listing page within an app store, which should have minimal implementation burden for any app store. Publishing authorizations in an app-ads.txt file on the developer’s website will create a centralized online resource that the developer independently controls. As a beta specification, this can be implemented now and then app stores can also adopt a standardized way to making this information available.

The IAB Tech Lab encourages adoption of this beta specification for publishers and app stores, as minimal changes are expected. Not only is this specification based on one already in use, it incorporates feedback provided from proposed mobile app-focused solution strategies released in July 2018.

“The beta release of app-ads.txt addresses an important gap in eradicating fraudulent inventory,” said Dennis Buchheim, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “While it took longer than expected to define a reliable, scalable approach to specifying file locations for mobile apps, the solution will not only support ads.txt but will also support other supply chain safety initiatives, such as ads.cert.”

“Fraud lives in the shadows. When the industry works together to create and adopt transparent systems for checks and balances, fraud via counterfeiting is more difficult to pull off,” said Neal Richter, CTO, Rakuten Marketing, and co-chair of the IAB Tech Lab’s OpenRTB Working Group. “App-ads.txt is another step in the right direction to reduce counterfeit app inventory and the reach of bad actors.”

“App-ads.txt is an essential step in eliminating the scourge of fraud from the advertising industry,” said Ian Trider, Director, RTB Platform Operations, Centro. “To help the IAB drive adoption, Centro will begin enforcing the specification in Q1 2019, where our platform will bid only on supply paths authorized by participating app publishers via app-ads.txt.”

“Expanding ads.txt to mobile app inventory is a great move forward for the industry,” said Per Bjorke, Senior Product Manager, Google Ad Traffic Quality. “It promises to increase transparency in the apps ecosystem, adds a new layer of protection for advertisers, and helps ad dollars flow to the right developers.”

To review the new spec, go to https://iabtechlab.com/ads-txt. Anyone interested can join the IAB Tech Lab OpenRTB Working Group to engage with this initiative before the spec is out of beta. Any comments or questions can be directed to [email protected]and will be distributed to the working group for review.

About IAB Technology Laboratory

The IAB Technology Laboratory (Tech Lab) is a non-profit consortium that develops and provides technical standards, software, and services to drive the growth of an effective and sustainable global digital media ecosystem that benefits consumers. Comprised of digital publishers, ad technology firms, agencies, marketers, and other member companies, IAB Tech Lab focuses on improving the digital advertising supply chain, measurement, and consumer experiences, while promoting responsible use of data. Its work includes the OpenRTB real-time bidding protocol, ads.txt anti-fraud specification, Open Measurement SDK for viewability and verification, VAST video specification, and DigiTrust identity service. Board members include AppNexus, ExtremeReach, Google, GroupM, Hearst Digital Media, Index Exchange, Integral Ad Science, LinkedIn, MediaMath, Microsoft, Oath, Oracle’s Moat, Pandora, PubMatic, Quantcast, Rakuten Marketing, Telaria, The Trade Desk, and Yahoo! Japan. Established in 2014, the IAB Tech Lab is headquartered in New York City with staff in San Francisco, Seattle, and London. Learn more at https://www.iabtechlab.com.