app-ads.txt (ads.txt for apps) released in beta

IAB Tech Lab this week released app-ads.txt specification, in beta, the app guidance that can increase the pool of authorized digital advertising inventory while reducing fraud.

“Expanding ads.txt to mobile app inventory is a great move forward for the industry. It promises to increase transparency in the apps ecosystem, adds a new layer of protection for advertisers, and helps ad dollars flow to the right developers.”

Per Bjorke, Senior Product Manager, Google Ad Traffic Quality

Available for public comment through February 4, 2019, app-ads.txt is an extension of the original ads.txt standard that provides a mechanism for content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. With demand-side platforms (DSPs), it allows buyers to purchase through approved seller accounts. App-ads.txt applies this ads.txt functionality to ad transactions in mobile apps, as well as over-the-top (OTT) video apps.

In addition, IAB says app-ads.txt can help identify and block instances of unauthorized developer impersonation. The specification details how to get an app developer’s website URL from the app listing page within an app store, which should have minimal implementation burden for any app store.

Publishing authorizations in an app-ads.txt file on the developer’s website will create a centralized online resource that the developer independently controls. As a beta specification, this can be implemented now and then app stores can also adopt a standardized way of making this information available.

The IAB Tech Lab encourages adoption of this beta specification for publishers and app stores. IAB Tech Lab expects only minimal changes. Not only is this specification based on one already in use, but it also incorporates feedback provided from proposed mobile app-focused solution strategies released in July 2018.

“The beta release of app-ads.txt addresses an important gap in eradicating fraudulent inventory. While it took longer than expected to define a reliable, scalable approach to specifying file locations for mobile apps, the solution will not only support ads.txt but will also support other supply chain safety initiatives, such as ads.cert.”

Dennis Buchheim, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IAB Tech Lab