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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Technology Laboratory has developed a new means to battle against illicit advertising inventory.

The IAB Tech Lab, in an effort to eliminate the black market for digital advertising inventory, is offering a tool to stymie the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions in programmatic transactions.

According to Tech Lab staffers, the new tool — named ads.txt — is a “pre-formatted index of authorized sellers that publishers can post to their domains. Programmatic buyers can then use these publisher ads.txt files to screen for fake or misrepresented inventory.”

“Ads.txt can take both the ‘fake Rolexes’ of digital ad inventory and our industry’s ‘luxury handbags that fell off the back of a truck’ out of circulation,” said Alanna Gombert, Senior Vice President, Technology and Ad Operations, IAB, and General Manager at the IAB Tech Lab. “With the introduction of this simple supply chain safety tool, there will be no excuses for bad impressions flowing through our ecosystem.”

Mike Zaneis, the CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an industry supply chain safety organization founded by the IAB, the ANA, and the 4A’s, is optimistic that the new tool is a valuable new defense against fraud.

“The criminals who profit from digital advertising do their dirty work in the dark,” said Zaneis, who plans to push TAG members to adopt the tool. “The ads.txt tool will help publishers shine a light on the legitimate sellers for their inventory, so brands and agencies will know when they are dealing with a legitimate programmatic reseller, and when they are not.”

Ads.txt was recently unveiled at the IAB Programmatic Symposium in New York City. The open standard and technical specs can be reviewed here.

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