display.io Part of the IAB Work Group Delivering App-Ads.txt to the Industry

Great news for marketers who are clambering to take advantage of in-app advertising benefits including increased user engagement, higher click-through rates and better targeting. As an active IAB tech Lab member, display.io has participated in the creation app ads.txt and will be among the first to implement this new industry standard across its direct network of app developers.

Advertisers buying display.io’s in-app audiences will be able to authenticate that their ad buy is happening on a direct app publisher, creating a direct end-to-end transaction direct between buyer and seller that is secured against unauthorized resellers and domain spoofing fraud.

WTF is ads.txt?

In 2017, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) introduced technology that helped programmatic advertisers, publishers and vendors identify authorized digital sellers of ad inventory on the web. The framework, known as ads.txt, is a text file that lists all the partners authorized to sell a web publisher’s inventory. It has become the industry standard for programmatic buyers and sellers to transact against with widespread adoption amongst all key stakeholders on both sides of the transaction.

https://adstxt.firstimpression.io/ (Q4 2018)

Why does this matter? Ad fraud costs advertisers $8.2 billion annually, and web publishers lose big, too. Top publishers, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, lose up to $3.5 million daily. There are two common types of fraud that ads.txt can help both advertisers and publishers avoid:

  • Spoofing: When a “bad guy” spoofs a popular publisher’s site and gets advertisers to buy impressions that look like, say, the New York Times — when the inventory is actually coming from some obscure site or worse yet is bot generated.
  • Unauthorized reselling: Also called arbitraging and rebrokering, unauthorized reselling of inventory happens when a third-party sells ad space without the publisher’s permission. This usually results in publishers not getting paid market price for their inventory.

Ads.txt makes it clear who is authorized to sell publishers’ inventory and who isn’t, providing much-needed transparency for the industry. While this technology has helped both advertisers and publishers avoid fraud on the web, there hasn’t been a solution for in-app ads until recently.

App-ads.txt is now out of Beta

In November 2018, the beta version of app-ads.txt became available, doing for apps what ads.txt does for web. As part of the working team that defined and built out the spec for app-ads.txt alongside the IAB Tech Lab, display.io has been a longtime champion of an ads.txt for apps. Now out of beta, the company is excited at the positive impact it had on the web will be mirrored within the in-app ecosystem.

“We’re reaching the end of an important collaboration on this new standard,” said display.io CEO Stephen Caffrey, who, together with his team, contributed to the app-ads.txt working group. He continued, saying, “App-ads.txt will create a cleaner, more efficient marketplace for buyers and sellers providing real value to the ecosystem, and it will remove those that don’t. That’s something the whole app industry should get behind”.

With the public release now available, display.io will be among the first app-only SSPs to integrate this technology standard with its direct publisher partners.

What Does App-ads.txt Mean for App Publishers?

Embracing app-ads.txt will have clear monetary benefits for app publishers. In fact, at some point in 2019, using it will be the only way to effectively monetize inventory as adoption of the standard becomes as widespread among app publishers as it did for web publishers in 2017 and 2018.

Practically speaking, implementing the file will prevent inventory from being spoofed and eliminate unauthorized reselling of inventory. This will lead to an uptick in revenue as reassured buyers are able to verify the source of the inventory.

In order to take advantage of app-ads.txt, app publishers must authorize sellers of their in-app inventory by registering the URL hosting the app-ads.txt file on the Google Play store and publishing an app-ads.txt file with authorized seller information.

What Does It Mean for Programmatic In-App Ad Buyers?

Because publishers and buyers don’t interact face-to-face, app-ads.txt allows programmatic ad buyers to automatically verify approved sellers before bidding on a request. This gives programmatic buyers the confidence and control to purchase in-app inventory from authentic vendors authorized to sell the inventory on behalf of the publisher.

Be Among the First to Experience This Industry First

As part of the team that developed this framework for apps, display.io is uniquely positioned to show how this new standard can be used to improve your advertising goals, whether you are an advertiser or in-app publisher.