Ads.txt Information That Websites Should Know

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.

ads.txt example and implementation

Below, I break down everything publishers and advertisers should be aware of; relating to the Ads.txt project. All of this information is pulled directly from the comprehensive webinar I did with former Googler, Ohad Tzur (who just returned from Google’s Think Publishing event). This webinar is recorded and available to watch below as well.

Watch The Ads.txt Q&A With Ohad Tzur

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?

Google is standing behind the Ads.txt project; as 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 won’t affect those systems for the publisher at all. In fact, Ads.txt won’t really have any initial impact on publishers who choose to do nothing regarding the project. The question most want to know is…

Is Ads.txt relevant to the majority of websites or just major brands?

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.

However, the truth is, the vast majority of publishers will be largely unaffected by Ads.txt; whether they implement it or not. There is a lot of pressure from all major players in this equation to push everyone to implement the Ads.txt file on their website, but non-major brands won’t likely be affected by domain-spoofing now — or in the future.

Final verdict: Unless you have a known problem of bad actors spoofing your domain, Ads.txt is likely not all that important to your digital property.

Should you implement Ads.txt?

That’s up to every individual publisher. See the final verdict above. However, this seems to be where there is a lot of bad information in the marketplace.

If you are not worried about bad actors spoofing your domain in an attempt to secure ad dollars from brand advertisers (most really shouldn’t be), then YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING!

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, and there are no advantages to doing so (other than protection from spoofing.

There are a lot of nefarious parties out there that are attempting to mislead publishers into believing that this will negatively impact their ad revenue in some way; however, this is not the case. Publishers should avoid anyone peddling this kind of misinformation; as they likely have some kind of hidden agenda (a lot of marketing services businesses are using this as a sales pitch now).

What are the risks and benefits of Ads.txt?

I’ve kind of hammered the only real benefit of implementing Ads.txt above (re: domain-spoofing protection). The only other real benefit is the industry brownie points you’ll earn from big brand peers for getting involved — if you’re into that 😉

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?

If implemented properly, the only thing that will change will be that bad actors can no longer spoof your domain to secure ad dollars from advertisers.

Unless this is a major problem for your website, absolutely nothing will change.

Critical dates and information for Ads.txt

The file must be up to date and have all included resellers by the end of October if you have chosen to participate.

What else should Ezoic users be aware of?

If you implement Ads.txt, Ezoic will automatically add all of our partners to your file to ensure you are not negatively impacted by the change on our side.

If you don’t have the file yet implemented, but would like to, stay tuned. We will be releasing an app in our app store in the coming weeks that will allow you to include Ads.txt in a validated and safe way that will ensure you are not negatively impacted by implementation.

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.

If your an Ezoic publisher implementing Ads.txt, simply stay in contact with your account manager about implementation to ensure you are not negatively affected.

Other questions about Ads.txt? Leave them below.

Author: Tyler Bishop

Tyler is an award-winning marketer, SEO expert, and successful blogger. He has composed content for some of the world's top publications and has written about business, psychology, sports, martial arts, and pop culture.

6 thoughts on “Ads.txt Information That Websites Should Know”

    1. No. If you see above, it is not required; nor will it be overly helpful to most publishers. However, if you implement it, it must be done correctly.

  1. Please help. I did not implement the ads.txt code before the October deadline. I have just done it but I’m not sure it is correctly done as my ads are no longer being served. What could be the problem?

    1. It is possible it may have not been done correctly if ads are not serving; however, it is important to understand that ads.txt is the reason you’re experiencing the issue. Other changes you may have made during this time period could very well be responsible as well. If it is ads.txt, simply removing ads.txt from your site will mean that all problems will subside. Then, you can work towards proper implementation.

    1. You may want to closely examine your ads.txt file. I have seen simple commas cause file errors that have prevented publishers from showing ads. I have seen this a lot with publishers that have tried to implement ads.txt due to an e-mail from Adsense. A lot of smaller publishers have gotten the e-mails, attempted to implement ads.txt, and end up with an added “;” that prevents the file from being correct.

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