App-Ads.txt: Helping Mobile and OTT Publishers Reach Their Full Revenue Potential
November 25, 2019 | Article written by Peter Ackerman
Guest post by Peter Ackerman
Peter Ackerman is the Director of Product Marketing at RhythmOne. He leads the go-to-market strategy for RhythmOne’s programmatic platform and publisher monetization solutions. Leveraging his diverse background in both the demand-side and supply-side of the programmatic video ecosystem, Peter develops and launches solutions addressing market needs across the programmatic supply chain. Prior to RhythmOne Peter held sales and marketing positions at Hearst Bay Area Media Group, Major League Gaming, CBS EcoMedia, and IMG.
This year, the IAB’s Tech Lab finalized app-ads.txt (Authorized Sellers for Apps) — an initiative, much like ads.txt before it, that provides a means for mobile and OTT publishers to specify exactly who is authorized to sell their valuable inventory.
No matter if you’re on the supply or demand side of the house, ad fraud is one of the most pressing challenges facing our industry. Case in point: an April 2019 report by DoubleVerify found that invalid mobile impressions doubled year over-year. As smartphones, tablets, and connected TV (CTV) devices continue to garner more consumer viewing time (and more advertising dollars), more “bad actors” are looking to profit from selling counterfeit inventory. This can lead to lost revenue for publishers, not to mention wasted budget for programmatic buyers.
Keep the Bad Actors at Bay
Spoofed inventory — such as the use of fake/mislabeled inventory by less-than-ethical resellers that can garner hundreds of millions of impressions on exchanges — has been a large contributor to programmatic ad fraud. It’s also a cause of mutual frustration shared by buyers (who think they are buying quality premium inventory) and publishers (whose authentic inventory is not getting maximum value) alike.
We all have a role to play to help keep the “bad actors” at bay. Powered by our hundreds of direct publisher partnerships (with thousands of properties), we are proud to be the industry’s top-ranked* programmatic platform for mobile, video, and display supply. And as an authorized seller of their inventory, we work closely with our partners so they can add RhythmOne to their app-ads.txt files. Ultimately, this helps to ensure their mobile and/or connected TV app inventory can be properly indexed and referenced by programmatic buyers — including leading demand side platforms (DSPs), agency trading desks, and holding companies.
RhythmGuard, our proprietary brand safety technology that is at the core of our programmatic platform, is designed to actively combat invalid traffic and fraud within the RhythmOne marketplace. With app-ads.txt, our partners can now also be more assured that a publicly accessible record naming RhythmOne as a seller means they can gain greater control over their inventory in the market — helping to make it harder for wannabe fraudsters to profit from selling counterfeit inventory.
The Steps to Correct Implementation of App-ads.txt
(1) Our publishers should include app-ads.txt on the root domain of the app owner’s website, listing RhythmOne as an authorized seller of their app’s advertising inventory. It’s done like this:
- For App Owners, add to your app-ads.txt file: rhythmone.com,<Pub_EX_ID>,DIRECT,a670c89d4a324e47
- If you’re not the App Owner, add to your app-ads.txt file: rhythmone.com,<Pub_EX_ID>,RESELLER,a670c89d4a324e47
- Note for our publishers: Pub_EX_ID should be replaced with your RhythmOne issued Publisher ID. If you do not know your Publisher ID, your RhythmOne account manager can provide it to you.
(2) Buyers create and maintain their own list of authorized sellers by crawling app stores and the web for app-ads.txt files.
(3) RhythmOne receives a bid request from the publisher and passes the app’s store listing URL in the OpenRTB request to buyers.
(4) Buyers recognize RhythmOne as an authentic seller of publishers’ inventory by filtering against app-ads.txt list of authorized sellers.
Learn More About App-Ads.TXT
*Pixalate Seller Trust Indexes, Q2 2019: #1 Programmatic Advertising Seller on Global (US), Mobile and Video Trust (US and International) Indexes. Based on data from billions of transactions on transparency, viewability, ads.txt, engagement, and more.