“The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.
Today's column is written by Matt Harada, general manager of data at Sovrn.
Publishers without an updated Ads.txt file are missing out on revenue and stand to lose more in the near future.
Despite strong initial adoption of Ads.txt following its release, I get the sense that the rate has stalled in recent months. In the last quarter, some publishers have continued to hold out – and their bottom lines are suffering as a result.
Publishers need to know that Ads.txt is an opportunity, not a liability. Ads.txt offers the potential for improved relationships with advertisers, enhanced ad experiences for audiences and, ultimately, improved revenue. Advertisers have fully embraced the benefits of Ads.txt, and many have said they will no longer buy inventory without an updated file by the end of the year. And Google will default to Ads.txt-authorized-only buying as the default option on its Display and Video 360 platform by end of 2018.
So if publishers haven’t already, here’s why they need to implement Ads.txt – and keep it updated – as soon as possible.
Ads.txt is just as important to small publishers as it is to industry giants.
Large sites have benefited from Ads.txt in part because it has forced bad actors downstream to smaller publishers. It’s therefore crucial that small publishers – which seem the most reticent to adopt Ads.txt – protect themselves, and not just for their own sake. Establishing and maintaining industry standards requires both supply-chain transparency and industrywide adoption.
Ads.txt attracts advertisers
Demand-side platforms (DSPs) have been giving preferential treatment to exchanges included in Ads.txt files for more than a year, which means publishers that haven’t stayed up to date are missing out on spend.
This won’t change. When buyers stop bidding completely on inventory without an Ads.txt file, these publishers will be excluded from programmatic spend regardless of whether their sites are being spoofed.
Implementation is easy
Implementing Ads.txt offers the best return on investment a publisher will get.
Exchanges will help publishers implement Ads.txt. If publishers ask, exchanges should provide the necessary Ads.txt line items, if they haven’t already. Uploading what they send is as easy as copying and pasting.
Once publishers have adopted Ads.txt, they’ll need to keep it updated. Accuracy is crucial. Publishers must take the time to maintain their file or they may as well not have one at all. Mistransposing a digit from a tag ID or adding www. to a file can interfere with authorization, resulting in unsold impressions or inventory sold for less than the highest bid.
The minimal effort of implementing and updating is well worth the yield protection that will be earned. Publishers should make a calendar note to update monthly or, at worst, quarterly, and use online Ads.txt file checkers to ensure they have not made any mistakes.
It won’t make a site ‘ugly’
It’s true that some Ads.txt files get pretty big, and that there are many reseller line items for many exchanges. However, the robots that crawl the web looking for these files just want to tell a publisher’s DSP how they can legitimately buy its inventory — they’re not worried about aesthetics. Publishers shouldn’t be afraid to include additional information that might help them.
Even reseller lines drive incremental revenue to a site. The advertiser-DSP ecosystem is far from efficient, and including this information in an Ads.txt file can lead to opportunities that might not otherwise reach a publisher directly. That can be true even in the case of reseller exchanges they already work with.
There’s no downside
Transparency and trust are two of the most important factors in ad tech relationships, and fighting fraud is at the top of every advertiser’s list of goals. A publisher showing that it is on board with the latest protective measures makes its inventory more attractive, leads to increased opportunities for revenue and ensures it is well-positioned to take advantage of changes to the industry landscape.
Ad tech is constantly evolving, and Ads.txt is a big step forward. It’s time for hesitant publishers to take advantage of the Ads.txt framework and pursue the new partnerships and opportunities it brings.