Thank the cord cutters, or thank the world-transforming power of the internet. Either way, over-the-top (OTT) content is here to stay, and that means publishers have a whole new ad revenue opportunity.

But with that opportunity comes a familiar problem: ad fraud. It’s not a problem that is growing larger on the horizon, either. It’s already here. Ad fraud is something publishers and advertisers are accustomed to dealing with, and the effort to fight ad fraud in the OTT space looks really similar to the same fight for web publishers: it’s ads.txt for OTT.

A somewhat new innovation in the programmatic advertising world, ads.txt allows publishers to authorize particular sellers to sell their inventory by listing them in an ads.txt file on their websites. And buyers scan those files to make sure they’re getting the inventory they’re paying for.

Ads.txt for OTT is even newer than that, but it works in a similar way. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

Playwire stays on the forefront of change in digital advertising so we can always give our publishers the newest and best in revenue-maximizing opportunities. Want us looking out for your revenue, too? Contact our team.

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OTT Ad Fraud: A Growing Problem

OTT is new — really new. It’s so new that a comparison with the Wild West isn’t far off at all. In a complex programmatic ecosystem that many are using but few truly understand, ad fraudsters thrive. They capitalize on the confusion and rake in millions of dollars through fraudulent inventory.

That’s certainly happening in OTT. Estimates about ad fraud in OTT vary widely, but at least one firm monitoring this space thought that up to 22% of programmatic ad impressions were invalid in 2020. Meanwhile, fraudulent ad impressions in OTT and connected TV (CTV) appeared to increase by 161% year-over-year in 2020.

For many in the digital advertising industry, numbers like these served as a painful reminder of the pre-ads.txt days for web publishing. There was no solid way to prevent inventory fraud, but ads.txt provided the solution. With that in mind, the logical next step was ads.txt for OTT. And the original inventor of ads.txt, the IAB Tech Lab, took that next step.

How Does Ads.txt for OTT Work?

Ads.txt for OTT works in largely the same way as ads.txt for web. It does have a different name, though. It’s called app-ads.txt, and it’s for both OTT and mobile apps.

The Basics

It’s a different file, but the process is the same. Publishers create a text document that lists the supply-side platforms (SSPs) and exchanges they want to allow to sell their inventory, upload that file to their websites and demand-side platforms (DSPs) and other buyers scan those files to make sure the seller they’re working with for the publisher’s inventory is legitimate.

The app-ads.txt file is still constructed the same way as ads.txt. You have to include the key identifying information for each authorized seller, separate each field with a comma and place each seller on a new line in the document.

Inventory Sharing Issues

When it comes to ads.txt and app-ads.txt, the OTT environment does create one key difference that publishers need to keep in mind. It’s the problem of inventory sharing. 

Because OTT channels and the devices that can stream them all have an interest in — and sometimes ownership of — ad slots, who is authorized to sell what can sometimes get confusing. So far, this has created some complex processes for updating app-ads.txt files between publishers.

It’s a problem that can lead to lost revenue because of tiny mistakes that deauthorize or improperly authorize inventory sellers. The good news is that the IAB Tech Lab has come up with a solution. The lab amended ads.txt specs to allow publishers to authorize entire domains as “trusted partners” and authorize the various sellers within those domains upon bid requests.

This is a welcome update, but it can further complicate ads.txt for OTT for publishers who don’t have a strong development background.

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How to Implement App-Ads.txt for Your OTT Content

The implementation of app-ads.txt for an OTT publisher looks fairly similar to the process for a web publisher. In fact, the process is basically identical except for one key thing: the final URL where your app-ads.txt file should live is instead of 

Beyond that difference, you have all the same steps for OTT that you would for web. You create your app-ads.txt file and list your authorized sellers. Then, you upload the file to your developer website — the one linked out to from your profile within the OTT or CTV platform(s) you use to distribute your content.

Ads.txt for OTT: Step One in Maximizing Your OTT Revenue

Fraud is a huge problem in OTT advertising, but ads.txt for OTT is working to solve it. That’s a big benefit for OTT publishers and advertisers across the board, but it’s only the first step in maximizing your OTT revenue.

There are dozens of other steps, each providing an important boost to your revenue-generating power. We realize that’s a lot to handle, and that’s why we do what we do. We take care of ads.txt and everything else so you can focus on creating incredible content while your revenue grows. 

Ready to leave your revenue woes behind? Reach out to Playwire today. Simply contact us online.

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