The Ads.txt Information That Websites Should Know
Ads.txt is an ad ecosystem innovation that aims to eliminate the ability of bad actors to profit from counterfeit ad inventory in the open digital marketplace. As with any major ad ecosystem changes, improvements, or innovations, there is a lot of misinformation going around about the Ads.txt project.
Read our most recent updated article here:
What is Ads.Txt?
As mentioned above, Ads.txt is a project sponsored by the IAB and other market leaders aimed at eliminating domain-spoofing. This will prevent bad actors from profiting on the open digital marketplace.
The mission is to increase transparency in the ecosystem between advertisers and publishers. The project aims to remove parties that may be trying to misrepresent themselves (or their traffic) in the marketplace to acquire ads in exchange for revenue.
Ads.txt is a file that allows publishers to identify who can represent their inventory so that they can be authentically represented in front of buyers. This methodology allows publishers to verify that they are in fact who they say they are; allowing brands to safely buy inventory on their site (knowing that they will reach their intended audience).
Who is Ads.txt meant for?
There are a lot of different players involved in the Ads.txt project. It is meant to protect the programmatic system for both advertisers, publishers, and the major platforms that sit in-between. It is a way for publishers to authenticate themselves to buyers and platforms.
For publishers, Ads.txt will be something that will need to be implemented by your webmaster; however, it is not something to be taken lightly. As incorrectly implementing, validating, or leaving off potential buyers could have a very negative impact on digital ad revenue.
How does Ads.txt affect Google earnings?
Google is standing behind the Ads.txt project; they view it as a positive signal in the effort to clean up the digital ad space. As a platform for both advertisers and publishers, Google is a critical player in the market.
For publishers wondering how this may affect AdSense or the Google Ad Exchange (from the publisher side), it actually may end up playing a major role.
Google announced that in Q4 of 2018 that all Google advertiser products will only buy from ads.txt certified inventory by default.
This means publishers without an ads.txt file on their sites could potentially miss out on that digital ad revenue from Google.
Is Ads.txt relevant to my website? (updated)
This is one of the most important and critical questions in the marketplace right now. Everyone knows why a bad actor would want to misrepresent themselves as the New York Times in order to secure ad revenue from potential advertisers, but what about websites that aren’t major brands?
Thought leaders on the subject claim that these efforts by bad actors currently exist with major brands, but will eventually trickle down to smaller sites; thus giving them an incentive to implement something like Ads.txt as well so that they aren’t eventually spoofed in the marketplace.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Google and other ad platforms are configuring their systems to only buy from ads.txt verified sites by default.
This means that web publishers without an ads.txt file will likely miss out on revenue that would have typically been provided through these platforms.
Many advertisers might not care about buying ads.txt inventory; however, few will likely change away from the default platform settings. This means the likelihood of missing out on revenue because of a missing ads.txt file is pretty high for all publishers.
Final verdict: Yes
Should you implement Ads.txt?
That’s up to every individual publisher (Read more here).
However, when implemented correctly, Ads.txt will help you ensure that you don’t miss out on revenue long-term once all the ad platforms configure their advertisers to only buy from ads.txt verified publishers by default.
You can still monetize with Google AdSense, Ad Exchange, and most other ad demand sources across the web. You don’t have to implement the Ads.txt file. But, it is entirely possible that revenue will decline in the next year as more and more ad platforms begin changing their default settings in favor of ad.txt inventory.
What are the risks and benefits of Ads.txt?
There is only one real risk, but it is a pretty major one.
If you implement Ads.txt incorrectly — improper validation, leave off buyers, incorrect file implementation — you will not be able to monetize any of the traffic affected by the error. This could range from all your revenue (improper validation or implementation) to revenue just from certain buyers (leaving off certain buyers in the file).
This means that it is critical for your webmaster to implement and validate the Ads.txt file correctly. Additionally, it is also very important that you have the most up-to-date file available to ensure that you aren’t excluding credible buyers from accessing your site (costing you competition and ad revenue).
Will anything change if a publisher does nothing in relation to Ads.txt?
At this very moment, no.
However, the ecosystem is preparing for publishers without ads.txt files to see a decrease in the demand available to them through major platforms like Google.
It is probably a good time to begin exploring the implementation of an ads.txt file.
Critical dates and information for Ads.txt
Google stated that they would be making ads.txt inventory only the default for advertisers on all of their buying platforms in Q4 of 2018.
What else should Ezoic users be aware of?
We recommend using Ads.txt Manager to implement your ads.txt file. It is free and easy-to-use.
Other valuable information about Ads.txt
If you implement Ads.txt, stay up to date on the progress of the project. It is still early and you won’t want to miss any major changes that could affect your monetization in the future.
Other questions about Ads.txt? Leave them below.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.