Much like digital publishing as a whole, ads.txt didn't start with mobile apps in mind. But as mobile app ads, and mobile advertising in general, present more ad revenue opportunities, ads.txt has evolved to accommodate them. That evolution has taken the form of app-ads.txt (Authorized Sellers for Apps). It works in much the same way as ads.txt does for web publishing, but it's for apps. 

App-ads.txt also provides the same benefits as ads.txt for publishers: in-app ad fraud prevention, higher advertiser confidence in your inventory, and better access to high-dollar buys from buyers who only work with publishers who use app-ads.txt.

Those benefits are enough to trigger large-scale app-ads.txt adoption among top mobile app publishers, with significant year-over-year growth in publishers using app-ads.txt. If you want to join the ranks of the elite app publishers using app-ads.txt, you can. But you'll have to create an app-ads.txt file. This post will tell you how to do that.

Playwire helps app publishers like you maximize their revenue. App-ads.txt is part of that, but it's just one part among hundreds. If you want full-service revenue amplification, you want Playwire. Contact us.

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How to Create an App-Ads.txt File: Step by Step

The app-ads.txt file is what governs the authorization process inherent in the Authorized Digital Sellers framework. This is the file that ad buyers scan to ensure that they're really about to purchase your inventory - not fake inventory from an ad fraudster.

Put simply, your app-ads.txt file is the cornerstone of your credibility in the in-app advertising space. And you can create one in five steps.

Step 1: Link to Your Developer Website from Your App Store Profiles

Your app-ads.txt file is going to live on your developer website. Even if your developer website is more of a placeholder than an active site, you need to include a link to it on your app store listings

That way, when buyers go to verify your ad space, they can find your developer website through your app store listing and scan the app-ads.txt file there which helps optimize your user acquisition.

Step 2: Reach Out to Your Sellers

To build your app-ads.txt file, you're going to need some information from any supply-side platform (SSP) and ad network that sells your inventory. Each seller will get their own line in your file, and they need to provide some key pieces of information for that line.

Some sellers will provide a ready-made line of app-ads.txt code for you. In any case, the line for each seller will include these four pieces of information, separated by commas:

  1. The seller’s name or domain name
  2. Your ID as an app publisher within the seller’s platform
  3. The relationship the seller has with your inventory (DIRECT or RESELLER)
  4. The seller’s Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) ID number (optional)

Step 3: Create Your App-Ads.txt file

With the ready-made lines of code or the information necessary to create them in hand, it’s time to create your app-ads.txt file. This needs to be a plain text file, so use Notepad or TextEdit to create the blank file.

On the first line of the file, add the four pieces of information from your first seller. Separate each piece of information with a comma. It should look like this:

Seller name or domain, Your publisher ID with the seller, DIRECT or RESELLER, TAG ID number

Repeat that process for each seller you have, starting each seller on a new line in the document. Keep in mind that the process described above is the bare-bones approach to app-ads.txt files. There are plenty of bells and whistles you can add to this document, but the seller information gives you the basics to get the job done.

Step 4: Publish Your App-Ads.txt File

When your app-ads.txt file is complete, your next to-do is getting it onto your developer website. Each content management system (CMS) has a slightly different process for creating new pages, so follow the process your CMS provides for creating a new page at the root domain level. 

In the end, the URL of your file should look like this: Your app-ads.txt file should appear as plain text on that page.

Step 5: Validate It

To make sure your app-ads.txt file is working correctly, you will need to start by visiting the intended URL of the file on your developer website. If your app-ads.txt file appears there, you’re on the right track.

From there, you need to validate the app-ads.txt file. That means you need to make sure it works the way it is supposed to. Tiny errors in the file can indicate to buyers that certain sellers are not authorized to sell your inventory, meaning the flow of programmatic income to your site can be dramatically slowed or stopped altogether. 

To prevent that, you need to ensure that everything is working properly. But you don’t have to do that with a painstaking review of every line of the file. You can use a free tool. There are dozens of free app-ads.txt validator tools on the internet. A quick Google search should give you plenty of options.

If the validator finds no errors, you’re good to go. You have successfully created and implemented an app-ads.txt file for your app.

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Alternative: Create an App-Ads.txt File with Google AdMob

If Google AdMob is one of your sellers, you may have a simplified version of the above app-ads.txt process available to you. Google has been a big fan of ads.txt from day one, and they have made it easy for publishers who work with them to generate an app-ads.txt file. 

In your AdMob dashboard, find the ads.txt management section. There, you should see an option to create an app-ads.txt file for your app. Follow the instructions Google prompts you with, which are also listed below, and you’ll have an app-ads.txt file with Google already listed as a seller. Keep in mind, however, that you will still have to manually add any additional sellers to this file. 

Below are the basic steps for adding an app-ads.txt file inside your Google AdMob dashboard. For a more detailed breakdown, follow this link.

  • Step 1: Establish your developer site
  • Step 2: Create your app-ads.txt file
  • Step 3: Publish your app-ads.txt file on your developer website
  • Step 4: Wait for AdMob to crawl and verify your app-ads.txt file
  • Step 5: Check that your app-ads.txt file is verified in your AdMob account

Unlock Higher App Ad Revenue

Creating an app-ads.txt file can be a challenge even for app developers, especially if you work with multiple SSPs and ad networks and have complex programmatic processes. But there's an alternative to building your own app-ads.txt file. Instead, you can have Playwire do it for you.

In addition to not having to worry about your app-ads.txt setup, you get some extra benefits when you work with Playwire that will help you succeed in the mobile marketing ad space. Namely, you get a comprehensive suite of revenue-maximizing services designed with app publishers in mind. Interested in learning more? Reach out to Playwire today. Simply contact us online.
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