This week eBay is launching ads.txt, furthering its commitment to combating ad fraud and providing greater transparency in the programmatic ad inventory supply chain. As a recent Digiday article explains, the sale of fraudulent, non-authentic impressions has become progressively more commonplace. Domain spoofing has remained a persistent issue for programmatic advertising, and has increased the demand for heightened brand security. eBay’s core values are built around our trusted, transparent marketplace; launching ads.txt is the latest example of eBay’s continuing effort to provide a brand safe, fraud free environment for advertisers.

What is the ads.txt project?

Ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers and is a simple, flexible and secure method that eBay now uses to publicly declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. Ads.txt is a simple text file that sits in the page source code of the eBay domain.

Spearheaded by the IAB, ads.txt is a new industry standard in combating fraud and will prevent the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions in programmatic transactions. As publishers like eBay adopt ads.txt, buyers will be able to more easily identify the Authorized Digital Sellers for a participating publisher, allowing brands to have confidence they are buying authentic publisher inventory.

How big of problem is ad fraud?

It’s greater than you may think. Ad fraud is an issue not only for display, but also for video. A December 2017 article in Digiday found that advertisers spent $3.5 million a day on fake video inventory, falsely claiming to come from sites like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and USA Today. These publishers also found that 10 display exchanges and 24 videos were fraudulently representing access to their sites, on average. This type of fraud is not only damaging to those companies who purchase ads under false pretenses, but also affect the publisher who is misrepresented to offer these ads.

Will this impact direct-sold campaigns?

Not at all. Ads.txt was created to combat fraud and increase transparency of the programmatic ad ecosystem. Direct-sold campaigns are not impacted by this release. Once the eBay inventory is verified through the launch of Ads.txt, there is the potential possibility for existing and prospective buyers to develop preferred partnerships. This is a prime opportunity for us to educate our marketing partners of this exciting development.

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