App-ads.txt is a text file integrated by app developers/publishers into their developer websites, serving as a comprehensive list of authorized vendors permitted to sell their inventory. This innovative tool addresses various challenges of programmatic advertising, such as opacity and security concerns.
Officially referred to as “Authorized Digital Sellers for Mobile Apps,” App-ads.txt provides app developers and publishers with the means to grant specific ad networks and supply-side platforms (SSPs) permission to sell their inventory. It is essentially a text document that enlists legitimate ad tech vendors who possess the authorization to distribute the publisher’s digital ad inventory.
Publishers can upload the app-ads.txt to their developer website, while developers can analyze the file by crawling the developer website. This process enables developers to evaluate bid requests from ad networks and SSPs listed within the file.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab introduced app-ads.txt in November 2018 as an extension of the ads.txt file to the realm of mobile in-app and OTT advertising. This release aimed to enhance transparency between buyers and sellers within programmatic advertising. Major app stores, such as Google Play and the Apple App Store, have embraced app-ads.txt due to its advantages for both publishers and advertisers.
Mobile app developers can either upload the app-ads.txt file to their developer website or utilize online hosting platforms specialized for app-ads.txt. Subsequently, they integrate the developer website URL into each app store listing.
Buyers and advertisers can navigate individual app stores to identify the developer website associated with a particular app. Armed with this URL, advertisers can explore the developer website to pinpoint vendors authorized to sell the publisher’s ad inventory. This process aids advertisers in making informed decisions when it comes to accepting or rejecting bid requests from ad networks or SSPs.
1. Enhanced Security App-ads.txt acts as a formidable defense against ad fraud. By mitigating direct interactions between buyers, sellers, and ad tech vendors, this tool combats issues like unauthorized reselling, counterfeit inventory, and domain spoofing. Consequently, the programmatic advertising ecosystem becomes more secure, safeguarding publishers’ revenue and advertisers’ investments.
2. Amplified Transparency and Trust App-ads.txt fosters a transparent ad buying and bidding process. Advertisers can validate claims made by ad tech vendors by visiting the publisher’s developer website to ascertain their inventory access. Furthermore, this tool instills confidence and reliability in modern advertisers, as publishers providing the file earn their trust.
3. Ensured Brand Safety By adhering to app-ads.txt, advertisers guarantee that their campaigns run on legitimate and relevant ads, preserving their brand reputation. Publishers, in turn, prevent unauthorized access to their inventory and bolster their credibility.
4. Increased Revenue Efficient implementation of app-ads.txt eradicates concerns about revenue loss due to counterfeited apps or fabricated inventory. Publishers can access every dollar spent by advertisers on their inventory. Similarly, advertisers benefit from reduced risks associated with misleading ad tech vendors, ultimately enhancing their campaign performance and return on ad spend.
The app-ads.txt file comprises entries for various ad networks and SSPs, each encompassing ad system domains, publisher account IDs, account types/relationships, and certificate authority IDs. For instance, a record might look like this:
Google.com, pub-00000000000000000000, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
Publishers follow a series of steps to implement app-ads.txt effectively, which involve providing their website URL in app store listings, obtaining app-ads.txt records from vendors, compiling them into a file, and uploading it to their root domain.
Key Insights App-ads.txt, introduced by the IAB, elevates transparency and security in programmatic advertising. By extending the benefits of ads.txt to the mobile in-app and OTT advertising spheres, it ensures authorized sales, curbing ad fraud and bolstering trust. Advertisers can make informed decisions, publishers preserve brand integrity, and both parties reap the rewards of a secure and transparent ecosystem.
Implementing App-ads.txt The implementation of app-ads.txt requires careful execution to maximize its benefits for both advertisers and publishers. This process involves several key steps:
Website Integration: Developers must provide their website URL within each app store listing. This step is essential for linking the app to its corresponding developer website.
Vendor Collaboration: Publishers need to reach out to various vendors, including ad networks and SSPs, to request their app-ads.txt records. These records should follow the format of ad system domain, publisher ID, account type/relationship, and certificate authority ID.
Record Compilation: Using a text editor, such as Notepad, publishers compile the received app-ads.txt records into a single file. Each record is typically listed on a new line.
File Naming and Hosting: The compiled file is then saved with the name “app-ads.txt” and uploaded to the publisher’s root domain. The URL would resemble something like “https://example.com/app-ads.txt“.