IAB Tech Lab releases final version of app-ads.txt to fight mobile app fraud

  •   March 14, 2019
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IAB Tech Lab’s has released the final version of its app-ads.txt (Authorized Sellers for Apps) specifications. An extension of IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt file, the app-ads.txt support apps distributed through mobile and OTT app stores.

Why you should care

The app-ads.txt enables apps to take advantage of ads.txt protocol by linking their app store listings to their websites. The text file lists authorized digital sellers from programmatic open exchanges, providing more transparency around programmatic ad buying to fight ad fraud.

Publishing authorizations in an app-ads.txt file on their domains allows developers to manage and independently control their authorizations. “Using a developer domain creates a universal namespace, which may help identify and block instances of unauthorized developer impersonation,” the specs say.

IAB Tech Lab, along with the OpenRTB group that worked on the project, said no changes had been made since opening a beta of the specifications to public comments on November 30, 2018.

“The final version of app-ads.txt 1.0 specification signals that the beta period is over, and the working group now encourages app publishers, buyers and app stores to implement the guidelines, and remove misrepresented app inventory from programmatic supply chain,” wrote IAB Tech Lab in the announcement.

IAB Tech Lab also released a minor update to the ads.txt specs for publishers that do not have any authorized sellers on programmatic ad exchanges. Now, publishers can post an empty ads.txt file with no seller entries listed: “The update introduces a formal, backwards-compatible ‘placeholder’ entry to indicate no authorized sellers in a publisher’s ads.txt file.”

More on ads.txt

  • App-ads.txt also has the potential to allow apps to implement ads.cert, a protocol to standardize cryptographically signed bid requests that’s part of OpenRTB 3.0.
  • The original ads.txt specification covering desktop and mobile web inventory was first released nearly two years ago in May 2017.
  • Earlier this year, the ad measurement and authentication platform DoubleVerify identified a botnet scam exploit in the ads.txt that could have diverted as much as $80 million worth of ad spend in a single year.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.