Although programmatic buying has experienced explosive growth, the channel still has challenges to overcome when it comes to transparency.

According to a Digiday article, only 60% of the top 1000 publishers have adopted ads.txt (Authorized Digital Sellers). Ads.txt 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. The goal of ads.txt is to increase transparency in the supply chain, making it harder for bad actors to profit by selling counterfeit inventory across the programmatic ecosystem. However, due to practices such as blinding and bundling of inventory where full URL’s are not passed with the bid request, brands still sometimes struggle to be able to evaluate the quality of publisher inventory pre-bid.


Here are 3 reasons why publishers should consider adopting ads.txt, and being as transparent as possible when selling inventory programmatically.

  • Greater Performance & Demand: Brands want more transparency so they can feel assured they are appearing in a relevant context and an environment that preserves their reputation. In a world where every marketer is trying to reach the right person in the right place at the right time, the context of the page matters just as much as the user. When marketers are able to evaluate and find these pockets of brand safe, fraud free and contextually relevant inventory, they see better performance. In programmatic environments, high quality inventory that performs reigns king, creating demand with higher price points.
  • Brand Safety Subjectivity: DoubleVerify classifies content at the domain, subdomain and page level into 400+ contextual categories for programmatic targeting or avoidance. When our targeting is being used, the classification of an individual page is always considered first, enabling marketers to maximize scale. Just because a piece of content isn’t suitable for one advertiser doesn’t mean it’s unsuitable for another. Providing unblinded URLs enables brands who a particular article may be suitable for to discover it at the page or keyword level while keeping just that page, (not the whole site) away from the brands for whom it’s not suitable.
  • Danger of Getting Put On an Exclusion List: Not providing inventory as transparently as possible could hurt in the long run. It could lead to the exclusion of entire blinded/bundled inventory packages due to brand safety violations from one or two sites or purely because they don’t know what’s behind the blinded or bundled bid domain, and therefore don’t think it’s worth taking the risk.


Transparency is of critical importance to brands as they seek efficiency and value in their media buying efforts. But for a thriving ecosystem, commitment to transparency must exist throughout the value chain – from bid to impression.


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