Transparency has been a growing concern in digital advertising, with ad fraud was estimated to cost brands $16.4 billion globally in 2017, according to WPP’s global agency, The&Partnership. In fact, nearly 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted in 2016.
Companies have been looking for the best solutions to combat this issue with third-parties like IAS and MOAT building in tools into their own programs. But, the need for transparency is greater now than ever before with 96 percent marketers demanding more transparency, according to NewBase’s research.
The IAB Technology Laboratory is an independent, international, research and development consortium charged with producing and helping companies implement global industry technical standards and reducing friction associated with the digital advertising and marketing supply chain. In 2017, it announced a new means to eliminate the black market for digital advertising inventory. This tool, ads.txt, would prevent the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions in programmatic transactions.
ads.txt (Authorized Digital Sellers) was developed by The IAB Technology Laboratory to increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. It is a simple, flexible and secure method that publishers and distributors can use to publicly declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. As publishers adopt ads.txt, buyers will be able to more easily identify the Authorized Digital Sellers for a participating publisher, allowing brands to have confidence they are buying authentic publisher inventory.
Now, Choueiri Group’s digital arm DMS has taken the lead in introducing this safeguard into the region and has achieved 100 percent adoption across its entire portfolio of premium publishers, which it exclusively represents.
Imad Sarrouf, DMS’ commercial and technology director says in a statement, “While ads.txt will not solve all of AdTech’s fraud woes, we believe it will bring an end to one area and get media agencies and advertisers used to an online advertising ecosystem that promotes transparency and proactively combats ad fraud and other shady practices. Moving forward, we hope to see more advertisers placing a mandate on their media agency to validate publisher’s inventory when buying media programmatically”.
If widely adopted by publishers, ads.txt could dramatically limit domain spoofing, a type of ad fraud in which scammers misrepresent legitimate publisher domains, as well as the issue of arbitrage – a process in which impressions are bought and then repackaged and resold at a higher price by a third party.
With 60 percent marketers reporting things are worse or haven’t changed in terms of viewability standards and 59 percent saying control over brand safety is not in better shape, it’s high time for things to change.