Ads.txt was created in 2017 with the hopes of creating more supply chain transparency, and throughout its evolvement, the IAB Tech Lab has made a few good strides to ensure it continues to do just that.
Sellers.guide has exposed hundreds of cases where resellers have misled buyers in order to harbor direct traffic that does not belong to them. In order to take a step in the right direction to hone in on problems of misrepresentation and deliver more information about how ad inventory is offered to buyers, ads.txt 1.1. was born in August of 2022. With the update, two new terms emerged, OwnerDomain and ManagerDomain. If you are curious about how these new changes will benefit publishers and the buy-side, how to stay in compliance with ads.txt 1.1, and the expected risks for publishers, keep reading!
The standards for labeling and declaring relationship types have improved with this new update. Ads.txt 1.1 was created to disclose the owners and managers of the inventory and the shortest path to the inventory to the buyside. This will streamline safer and more efficient supply paths by ensuring that the capability to sell inventory through direct channels does not end up in the wrong hands.
The OwnerDomain field should only appear one time per ads.txt file. The owner of the site being monetized is the OwnerDomain and therefore should match the seller domain represented in the opposing sellers.json file. The ManagerDomain value is not mandatory like the OwnerDomain value, but almost 80% of files should include it. The ManagerDomain field is only relevant if a third-party company exclusively represents or manages the majority of the inventory.
Check out the example below to see how these fields appear in an ads.txt file:
If you are a publisher wondering how you will find the time to tediously weed through your file to make sure you are up to date, don’t stress, that’s what we are here for. The easiest way to make sure you are compliant with ads.txt 1.1 is by utilizing the latest updates on the Sellers.guide Analysis Page. Analyzing your domain will automate the process of managing your domain as well as help you make sure you are in accordance with version 1.1.
You may see a notification at the top of your analysis page that reads: “Your ads.txt file does not indicate an OwnerDomain, we recommend updating your ads.txt file,”
This means that you did not add the OwnerDomain value to your ads.txt file yet.
Across the analysis page, you can also find “ownerdomain” and “managerdomain” tags next to the relevant sellers, making it easier for you to identify these lines and treat them accordingly.
These are the five new flags that may appear depending on your file analysis. Look out for these flags to make sure your ads.txt file is compliant with ads.txt 1.1:
🚩OwnerDomain Listed as Reseller: this flag indicates that the seller classified “ownerdomain” is represented as a reseller in one or more ads.txt lines, and not as “direct”, as it should be.
🚩ManagerDomain Listed as Direct: here you can see all the ads.txt lines represented as direct belonging to the seller that is classified as “managerdomain”. According to the specification, the only lines that should be listed as direct are the ones that belong to the OwnerDomain. But, it is common practice for the ManagerDomain to possess direct lines as long as they are considered the shortest and most direct path to the inventory.
🚩Reseller Listed as Direct: this flag directs your attention to all the direct lines in the ads.txt that belong to different sellers, all of whom are not the OwnerDomain or ManagerDomain. We strongly recommend changing all of these lines to “reseller”.
🚩Reseller Listed as Publisher: lines under this flag represent sellers that are listed as “publishers” in the relevant sellers.json files of the different exchanges, but send reseller lines. This is a misrepresentation that usually needs to be corrected by the sell side and change the seller type to “intermediary”.
🚩OwnerDomain Listed as Intermediary: this flag pops up when the OwnerDomain is represented in the exchanges’ sellers.json as an intermediary instead of a “publisher” and is sending direct lines.
We know this change can be confusing and not easy to manage. The IAB Tech Lab is working to ensure that dozens of sellers are not claiming to be direct or taking publisher revenue, but these values must be enforced in order to make an impact in our industry.
All in all, ads.txt 1.1 is definitely a step in the right direction for supply chain transparency. The new fields will enforce that there can typically be only one owner of the domain’s traffic, making a gray situation much more black and white. Here at Sellers.guide, we are hoping that this update is just one of many, leading to more values, such as illustrating exclusive placements, and other fields that paint a more holistic picture of our complex supply chain.