Ads.txt files and sellers.jsons are two parts of the same puzzle. The first piece belongs to the supply side and the latter belongs to the buy side. All of the information on each of the files should correspond to its subsequent counterparts, but there are times when this doesn’t happen. One of the errors that our reports have traced is when a reseller is listed as a publisher.
There are several instances where this blip in the supply chain system can occur. Since publishers send ‘direct’ lines and sellers typically send ‘reseller’ lines – although there are exceptions – it is important to differentiate between who is a real publisher and who is not. When an intermediary is listed as ‘direct’ they can accrue benefits that they are not entitled to that belong exclusively to the content owner, which is usually a publisher.
In this report, we decided to zoom in on the puzzle pieces that are not fitting quite right: the sellers that are listed as publishers in the sellers.json file but send ‘reseller’ lines in the ads.txt file.
There are a few instances where this issue can be seen. The first is an innocent mistake in the sellers.json. But, occasionally these errors are intentional. In this case, the SSP holds some responsibility. The SSP should always ensure that the seller is actually a publisher, and not an intermediary or vendor.
We are not the only ones noticing that these pieces do not fit together. Check My Ads is a company that prides itself on discovering discrepancies such as these, fake news, and other types of misinformation. Kargo, a mobile advertising company, was exposed by Check My Ads for having a sellers.json file that was entirely made up of publishers. The company corrected its file soon after, proving that greater access to information really does cause growth and improvement in our supply chain.
On the other hand, there can also be a mistake originating in the publisher’s ads.txt file. In this case, the seller is actually a publisher, but they are misrepresented in the file. The error can either occur on the publisher side, meaning they sent the wrong line by mistake, or the file manager made an error. This type of mistake is not harmless, and can actually cause the publisher to lose revenue.
So, how can publishers review their files to ensure that they are not falling victim to the drawbacks of this error? The Sellers.guide Wizard, is a free tool that was created to help publishers with challenges such as this one. Publishers can easily analyze and validate their files with the Wizard for quick and easy ads.txt management. As for exchanges, they can avoid this issue on their end as well by verifying their sellers and ensuring that all of them are listed correctly in the sellers.json.