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Updated December 20, 2017

What is ads.txt?

Ads.txt is an initiative from the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab (IAB) to promote and improve transparency in programmatic advertising. It’s an easy way for publishers to clearly indicate to buyers who is authorized to sell their inventory. We at Sovrn support the ads.txt initiative 100%.

Great, so why should I care? Is it important?

One way fraudsters game the system is by spoofing legitimate sites. Ads.txt was built to prevent inventory counterfeiting. In addition, it also helps you manage legitimate partnerships like the one you have with Sovrn.

Related: Why ads.txt is important to buyers and sellers

If you have legitimate concerns about your inventory being misrepresented, you may benefit from putting ads.txt on your site. And our feeling is that, like all types of security, you are better off with it than without it.

How do I set up ads.txt on my site?

To set up an ads.txt file for a site, a publisher needs to create a text file and put it in the top level of the domain’s file structure.

The file lists all exchanges that the publisher works. Keep in mind that for Sovrn, publishers will need two listings per each account they have with us (sovrn.com and lijit.com — see example below).

What is the correct format?

Publishers should use the following format to correctly list Sovrn in their ads.txt file.

In the first two lines, a publisher needs to replace the XXXXXX with their Sovrn publisher ID. To obtain this ID, contact a Sovrn Account Manager or email publishersupport@sovrn.com.

sovrn.com, XXXXXX, DIRECT, fafdf38b16bf6b2b

lijit.com, XXXXXX, DIRECT, fafdf38b16bf6b2b

openx.com, 537120960, RESELLER

openx.com, 83499, RESELLER

openx.com, 538959099, RESELLER

pubmatic.com, 137711, RESELLER

pubmatic.com, 156212, RESELLER

pubmatic.com, 62483, RESELLER

contextweb.com, 558511, RESELLER

gumgum.com, 11645, RESELLER, ffdef49475d318a9

Will it work if a publisher puts “www.” before each line?

No it will not. This is the most common way publishers incorrectly implement Sovrn on their ads.txt file.

What is the difference between “DIRECT” and “RESELLER”?

“DIRECT” indicates that the publisher (content owner) has a direct business relationship with the SSP or exchange (such as Sovrn). This also means that there are no skips or jumps between the publisher and the SSP when selling inventory.

“RESELLER” indicates that the publisher has authorized this entity (such as Sovrn) to sell the publisher’s inventory on the publisher’s behalf, through another party. This also means that there is at least one skip or jump between the publisher and the SSP when selling inventory.

Does Sovrn resell my inventory?

Yes, Sovrn can resell your inventory in certain situations. Sovrn does this to increase the yield and revenue for publishers. For example, there are some some advertising campaigns with specific criteria like volume, viewability or GEO. Sovrn will sometimes resell a publisher’s inventory in order to meet these specific advertiser criteria.

Video tutorial for DFP users 

If you use DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), check out this helpful video tutorial on how to leverage DFP to generate your ads.txt file.


Additional information

Sites like Business Insider are supporting ads.txt — in fact, you can listen to a podcast interview with Jana Meron at Business Insider for more detail, and you can even see an example of their ads.txt file via this link: http://www.businessinsider.com/ads.txt.

For further insight we recommend reading these articles from AdMonsters and DigiDay, as well as a recent post by our CMO Andy Evans.

What is ads.cert? Sovrn’s Chris Crawfurd helps explain this new initiative.

If you have further thoughts or advice, please join the discussion on our Community.

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