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A is for App-ads.txt

Welcome to the new A-Z of adtech series. We’ll bring you a story each week inspired by an industry term from each letter of the alphabet. Get set for articles, infographics, gifs, quizzes… maybe even the odd poem or short story. This week, A is for app-ads.txt…

Watch out ad fraud! This week the boffins at the IAB Tech Lab released app-ads.txt in beta. This means the much-awaited app guidance that can increase the pool of authorized digital advertising inventory while reducing fraud is almost here!

Available for public comment until February 4, 2019, app-ads.txt is an extension of the original ads.txt standard that provides a mechanism for content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. With demand side platforms (DSPs), it allows buyers to confidently purchase through approved seller accounts. App-ads.txt applies this ads.txt functionality to ad transactions in mobile apps, as well as over-the-top (OTT) video apps.

In addition, app-ads.txt can help identify and block instances of unauthorized developer impersonation. The specification details how to get an app developer’s website URL from the app listing page within an app store, which should have minimal implementation burden for any app store. Publishing authorizations in an app-ads.txt file on the developer’s website will create a centralized online resource that the developer independently controls. As a beta specification, this can be implemented now and then app stores can also adopt a standardized way to making this information available.

The IAB Tech Lab encourages adoption of this beta specification for publishers and app stores, as minimal changes are expected. Not only is this specification based on one already in use, it incorporates feedback provided from proposed mobile app-focused solution strategies released in July 2018.

“The beta release of app-ads.txt addresses an important gap in eradicating fraudulent inventory,” said Dennis Buchheim, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab. “While it took longer than expected to define a reliable, scalable approach to specifying file locations for mobile apps, the solution will not only support ads.txt but will also support other supply chain safety initiatives, such as ads.cert.”

Want to check it out for yourself? Go to https://iabtechlab.com/ads-txt. Anyone interested can join the IAB Tech Lab OpenRTB Working Group to engage with this initiative before the spec is out of beta. Any comments or questions can be directed to openmedia@iabtechlab.com and will be distributed to the working group for review.

See our beginner’s guide to ads.txt here.