You know what happens when you use poor syntax while speaking? People struggle to understand what you're saying. Good syntax in language is the difference between the blue, big balloon and the big, blue balloon - the one with good syntax just flows.

As important as language is, syntax in certain advertising technology settings may be even more important than it is in language. Get your syntax wrong in English, and you might not be understood. But get your ads.txt, an initiative launched by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), syntax wrong, and your incoming programmatic advertising revenue may come to a sudden and complete stop.

The good news is that syntax for ads.txt is actually a lot simpler than syntax for the English language. With a few simple tips, you can make sure you get your ads.txt syntax exactly right and keep the revenue flowing. Read on to learn more.

Playwire makes ads.txt and much more simple for publishers. Our experts take care of all the tech so you can focus on the content. The result is higher revenue for you. Want in? Contact us.

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Read the Complete Ads.txt Guide

Basic Ads.txt Syntax

Before we jump into ads.txt syntax tips, we need to understand the basic structure of any ads.txt file. The basics are relatively simple: each line of the plain text file allows a single authorized digital seller of your ad inventory, and within each line, there are four fields of identifying information.

The fields you need to include for each authorized seller in your ads.txt file are as follows:

  • Field 1 : The name or root domain of the seller you're authorizing
  • Field 2: Your publisher ID number within the seller's platform
  • Field 3: "DIRECT" or "RESELLER" to indicate the relationship the seller has with your ad inventory (and prevent the sale of any counterfeit inventory)
  • Field 4: The seller's Trustworthy Accountability Group ID (TAG ID) number (optional)

You put those together on a single line and separate them with commas. It should look like this:

Then, you do the same thing for the next authorized seller on the next line, and you repeat that until you've authorized all of the sellers you want to.

Top 5 Ads.txt Syntax Tips

With the basics of ads.txt out of the way, let’s jump into five tips to help you get it right every single time.

1. Get It All in Front of You

Putting together an ads.txt file from scratch can be a huge and time-intensive task - particularly if you are working with a large number of sellers. To save on time and frustration, it's helpful to get all of the information you will need in front of you before you set out to actually write your ads.txt file.

That means you track down each seller's name and your publisher ID number with them, as well as any TAG ID numbers the sellers may have. Put them all in a single, easy-to-access place before you start writing the ads.txt file. That way, you don't have the frustrating start-stop-start of writing a single name field and realizing you need to send an email to find your publisher ID.

2. Be Careful with Copying and Pasting

One of the most common errors in ads.txt files comes from extra characters added when publishers copy and paste text. Hidden characters like pound signs and little bits of formatting often come along with a copy/paste job, and those little pests will break your ads.txt syntax.

To prevent this issue, you can either type everything by hand or make sure you paste, without formatting, into your ad manager (as plain text) every single time.

3. Hashtag Your Comments

Big ads.txt files can get confusing, despite the relative simplicity of basic ads.txt syntax. To help those who may read through your ads.txt file, you may be tempted to leave comments in it. That is a perfectly fine idea, but you have to make sure you're adding those comments properly. Otherwise, you can break your ads.txt file pretty quickly.

To add a comment in an ads.txt file, you add a "#" - described interchangeably as a pound sign, hashtag, hash or number sign - before your comment. Readers of ads.txt files will understand that everything after the # and until the end of the line is a comment and should not bear semantic weight for the ads.txt file itself.

4. Run It Through an Ads.txt Validator

You can read through your completed file 15 times and still miss tiny ads.txt syntax errors. Human eyes simply start to glaze after a certain number of lines of code.

But ads.txt validators don't have human eyes - they're kind of like robots. And while they're not perfect, they are often free and can quickly identify syntax errors that might have taken you ages to find on your own.

5. Keep It Simple

Ads.txt files are meant to be a simple way to inject some trust into the programmatic advertising ecosystem, but people have found ways to get pretty fancy with them. There are tons of variables and other bits of footwork you can add to the files to make them work the way you want them to.

If you're an experienced developer or have one working for you, go for it. If not, it's best to keep your ads.txt files as simple and straightforward as possible. If you try to get too fancy, you're begging for ads.txt syntax errors.

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Bonus Tip: Leave the Ads.txt Syntax to Playwire

There's one last ads.txt syntax tip to share with you, and if you use it, it will make all of the other tips we shared completely irrelevant to you. The last tip is to trust Playwire to handle your ads.txt files.

That way, you don't have to worry about syntax at all, and you can rest easy knowing that our team of ad tech experts is working tirelessly to maximize your ad revenue, prevent ad fraud, assure the flow of programmatic advertising revenue never stops, etc. - not just through ads.txt, but through an enormous suite of revenue amplification measures.

It has worked for countless website and app publishers, and it can work for you, too. If you'd like to learn more about how we can grow your revenue, all you have to do is get in touch. Just contact us online today.

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