IAB Tech Lab issues revised ads.txt for apps

In May 2017, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab launched ads.txt, a text file that indicates the verified sellers of web site ad inventory.

On Friday, the Tech Lab released a beta of its Authorized Sellers for Apps (app-ads.txt) specification, based on feedback to the mobile spec unveiled last summer. The newest spec will be available for public comment through February 4.

What does it do? This updated ads.text lets app developers — of mobile apps as well as Over-the-Top (OTT) video apps — verify their properties’ ad inventory, just as web site publishers can.

The idea of the ads.txt effort is to thwart fraudsters who attempt to sell ad space, such as on The New York Times’ web site, that they aren’t authorized to do.

In addition, to block the impersonation of app developers, this new apps spec details a protocol to obtain the website URL for that developer from the page in an app store that lists the app.

As with website publishers, the app-ads.txt file lists the names and identification codes for all of the authorized sellers of that app’s available ad inventory. The idea is that advertisers will only bid on ad slots from authorized sellers listed in the app-ads.txt file.

The June version offered different possible approaches for ads.txt for apps, the Tech Lab said, and the new release is proposing a specific approach that relies on app stores.

Also supports ads.cert. “While it took longer than expected to define a reliable, scalable approach to specifying file locations for mobile apps,” Tech Lab SVP/GM Dennis Buchheim said in a statement, “the solution will not only support ads.txt but will also support other supply chain safety initiatives, such as ads.cert.”

Ads.cert is a digital signature that allows advertisers to verify a specific site’s inventory. The Tech Lab has compared ads.txt and ads.cert to buying a Rolex watch. First, you want to confirm you’re buying through an authorized reseller, and then certify that what you’re buying is actually a Rolex.

Why you should care. While there are many kinds of ad fraud, the sale of fraudulent inventory is one that the IAB Tech Lab and its members hope to eliminate through the relatively simple ads.txt project.

The project’s newest incarnation, extended to apps, could help make inventory fraud extinct.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.

About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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