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IAB Australia launches apps-ads.txt to help fight ad fraud

IAB Australia’s apps-ads.txt, its authorised inventory product for advertising within in-app environments on mobile and OTT (over-the-top) and any other app inventory, is now ready for adoption. Digital buyers have been advised they should actively look for app-ads.txt files along with ads.txt files when reviewing inventory, to help shift programmatic media spend to authorised supply paths. Additionally, IAB has recommended that local publishers adopt the solution immediately, so as to help limit the ability of criminal entities profiting via counterfeit programmatic advertising inventory.

App-ads.txt is an extension of last year’s ads.txt (Authorised Digital Sellers) solution. It is a simple, flexible and secure method that publishers and authorised partners can use to publicly declare the companies they have sanctioned to sell their digital inventory.

According to Georgina Fox, Publisher Partnerships and Supply Director at GroupM accessing fraud free, legitimate inventory on behalf of brands is crucial, as is supporting local publisher partners and the Australian online advertising ecosystem.

“As an industry it is imperative that we work together to combat fraud in any way we can, utilising the technology we have available. The adoption of app-ads.txt will further increase confidence for buyers, sellers and importantly for app developers. The adoption of ads.txt provided an increase in advertiser and publisher confidence, and it is fantastic that we can now extend this to app,” said Fox.

Jonas Jaanimagi, IAB Australia Tech Lead commented, “IAB Australia and our members have been delighted by the high levels of adoption of the ads.txt standard in Australia for desktop advertising and are optimistic of this now being successfully replicated with app-ads.txt for in-app inventory.

“Simple critical technical standards such as these require widescale adoption and support to be truly useful in practice and it’s only through these types of cross-industry collaboration and technical diligence that we will be able to tackle serious ongoing issues such as advertising fraud,” said Jaanimagi.

REA Group Executive Manager, Audience Solutions & Automated Trading, Braden Clarke said, “As an early adopter of the ads.txt standard for web inventory, we’re pleased to adopt the recently released app-ads.txt standard for in-app inventory. We support the IAB’s Authorised Digital Sellers initiatives as a means to increase trust and transparency across the digital supply chain – ensuring buyers can effectively navigate the path to authorised supply of genuine inventory.

“As witnessed with the adoption of the ads.txt standard for web – critical mass on the supply side is a required before this data can provide full value to DSPs and programmatic buyers. We would encourage other premium publishers and app developers to implement this simple solution to help overcome domain spoofing; and direct DSPs and buyers to authorised supply paths,” said Clarke

App-ads.txt supports apps distributed through online app stores, linking app store listings to app developer websites. A standard process is provided in the documentation to help publishers obtain the app developer’s website URL from an app listing page in an app store. App developers publishing authorizations in an app-ads.txt file on the developer’s website centralise this configuration into an online resource that the developer independently controls. Using a developer domain creates a universal namespace, which may help identify and block instances of unauthorized developer impersonation.

James Young, General Manager, Telaria commented, “At Telaria we believe a transparent, fraud-free ecosystem is vital for programmatic trading. App-ad.txt for in-app and OTT/CTV is that next step following on from the success we’ve seen with ads.txt, Open measurement and ads.cert. As OTT and CTV usage grow, it’s important to ensure that buyers and sellers transact with confidence in a trusted environment, and this is the right solution to legitimise in-app inventory across mobile and CTV devices. This moves our industry in the direction of increased clarity and transparency and we support it wholeheartedly.”

Sergio Serra, Product Management, Supply & Programmatic, InMobi added, “Even though app-ads.txt’s benefits are undeniable, there is a lot of education that needs to be put in place across the ecosystem. Realistically speaking, DSPs cannot really drive adoption until critical mass is reached. It’s the duty of SSPs and exchanges to promote and push for it. The demand side will be able to help by mandating app-ads.txt, but only after a sufficient share of the developers have implemented it.”