Google allows advertisers to buy ads.txt authorized-only inventory

Google announced Thursday that advertisers using Display & Video 360 (formerly DoubleClick Bid Manager) can now opt to only buy inventory that has been authorized via a publisher’s ads.txt file.

Ads.txt is an initiative spearheaded by the IAB Tech Lab to help eliminate domain spoofing ad fraud. By simply placing an ads.txt file on their domains, publishers can list the IDs associated with the seller accounts of ad networks and exchanges that are authorized to sell their advertising inventory. Advertisers can then do an ID lookup to verify they are buying inventory from authorized sellers.

Ads.txt adoption has continued to rise. Google says more than 430,000 domains have added the file since February and that close to 600,000 publishers — and 90 percent of its publisher partners — are using ads.txt.

Last fall, Google began filtering unauthorized inventory from its ad systems. Now that adoption is high, Google is giving advertisers the ability to exclude publishers that don’t have ads.txt files from their ad buys. The new feature is an opt-in.

Pooja Kapoor, head of GDPR and data trust at Google, told MarTech Today in an interview Wednesday that the company quietly enabled the opt-in feature on June 27 and that they’ve already seen 15 percent of line items in Display Video 360 opted-in as buyers came across the option.

The move to allow advertisers to exclude publishers that don’t have ads.txt files should push adoption by publishers even higher.

Kapoor noted the recent test run by The Guardian, MightyHive and Google to better understand the risks of buying unauthorized inventory. “The results showed clear evidence of unauthorized exchanges claiming to have sold Guardian US inventory and taking revenue when the buy was made through the open exchange. In contrast, there were no signs of fraud through the DSP only buying ads.txt authorised inventory,” The Guardian reported.

Publishers should care about publishing their files and making sure they are correct, and buyers should also be taking similar approaches, said Kapoor. “We are working toward a future in which authorized only is the only option on Display Video 360. Other buyers also need to follow suit and honor ads.txt files. It doesn’t work unless we have broad adoption on the buy-side.”

[This article originally appeared on MarTech Today.]

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