Authorized Digital Sellers

Starting November 2, 2020, Inventory Source - Quality targeting for Authorized sellers began extending to mobile app inventory via app-ads.txt  (this previously only applied to web inventory via ads.txt). As a reminder, app-ads.txt lets publishers declare sellers for their mobile app and lets advertisers know which sources are authorized to sell the inventory. This helps prevent inventory from being spoofed by bad actors and ensures that advertiser spend reaches the intended audience, bringing increased transparency to the programmatic buying space. See the Authorized seller bidding in Display & Video 360 and Frequently Asked Questions sections for more details.
 

What's changed (starting November 2, 2020):

  • The existing 'Inventory Source - Quality' targeting options now extend to cover both web and mobile app inventory. Before this change, Display & Video 360 only allowed buyers to apply authorized seller targeting via ads.txt to web inventory.
    • TV app inventory (CTV, Linear TV) was not impacted or included in this change.
    • There were no changes to the targeting options themselves or to where the options are applied (at the partner, campaign, insertion order, or line item levels).
  • Existing line items that contain mobile app inventory now have the 'Inventory Source - Quality' targeting apply to mobile app inventory as well (this previously only applied to web inventory).
    • If an existing line item targeted either 1) Authorized Direct Sellers and Resellers or 2) Authorized Direct Sellers only, behavioral changes should be anticipated since the targeting setting now also apply to mobile app inventory and will thus stop bidding on non-participating inventory. 
    • Both 'Ads in mobile app' and 'Mobile app install' line items have the 'Inventory Source - Quality' targeting options available (this previously only existed in display, video, and audio line item types). Existing ‘Ads in mobile app’ and ‘Mobile app install’ line items will maintain the current behavior, targeting ‘Authorized and Non-Participating Publishers’ by default, while new line items will inherit settings from the insertion order. 

How can I prepare?

  • ​Ahead of November 2, 2020, we provided a downloadable SDF containing a list of all impacted line items. Use the SDF to understand the impact of the targeting settings and make bulk updates before the actual launch. You can find the SDF by going to Brand Controlsand thenAuthorized sellersand thenView Breakdownand thenActionsand thenSDF Download.

 

Overview

Authorized Digital Sellers for web (ads.txt) is an IAB initiative to improve transparency in programmatic advertising by allowing publishers to identify who is authorized to sell their inventory. Declaring authorized sellers in an ads.txt file helps protect buyers from counterfeit inventory. The files are publicly available and crawlable by exchanges, Supply-Side Platforms (SSP), and other buyers and third-party vendors.

Authorized Sellers for apps (app-ads.txt) is an extension to the Authorized Digital Sellers standard. It expands compatibility to support ads shown in mobile apps.

Publisher participation

A publisher is considered to be participating if their inventory has an associated ads.txt file:

  • For web-based inventory (e.g. mydomain.com), an ads.txt file is posted and reachable from the root domain at mydomain.com/ads.txt.

  • For app-based inventory, the app has a published Google Play or App Store listing that references the developer's app website (e.g. myappwebsite.com) and the developer's app website has an app-ads.txt file posted and reachable from the root domain (e.g. myappwebsite.com/app-ads.txt).

A publisher is considered to be non-participating if their web or app inventory does not have an associated ads.txt/app-ads.txt file. While the use of ads.txt/app-ads.txt is not mandatory for publishers, it is highly recommended. Display & Video 360 excludes non-participating inventory on new campaigns by default, but buyers may purchase non-participating inventory at their own risk by modifying the ads.txt/app-ads.txt targeting option.

Seller authorization

A seller can be authorized to sell inventory by declaring a row with the following details in the ads.txt or app-ads.txt file:

  • Field 1: Exchange/SSP domain name (e.g. google.com, myssp.com)
  • Field 2: Exchange-specific publisher ID
  • Field 3: Type of account/relationship (must be DIRECT or RESELLER)
  • (Optional) Field 4: Certification authority ID
Example of ads.txt/app-ads.txt declaration:

google.com, pub-0000000000000000, DIRECT​, f08c47fec0942fa0
greenadexchange.com, 12345, DIRECT, AEC242
blueadexchange.com, 4536, DIRECT
silverssp.com, 9675, RESELLER

Authorized Sellers are sellers whose publisher ID has been declared in the ads.txt/app-ads.txt file on the inventory being monetized. Authorized sellers may be categorized as Direct or Resellers, depending on whether the seller directly owns or resells the inventory being monetized.

Unauthorized Sellers are sellers whose publisher ID has not been declared in the ads.txt/app-ads.txt file on the inventory being monetized. Display & Video 360 automatically excludes and disallows bidding on unauthorized sellers, protecting you from buying counterfeit inventory that is intentionally mislabelled.

Ineligible inventory

Inventory such as Out-of-Home, linear TV, and CTV are not currently covered by the ads.txt or app-ads.txt specification. Authorized Seller targeting options may also not be visible on some Line Item types which exclusively target inventory for which ads.txt/app-ads.txt restrictions does not apply.

Authorized seller targeting in Display & Video 360

Display & Video 360 allows buyers to apply ads.txt and app-ads.txt targeting options at the Partner, Campaign, Insertion Order or Line Item level. Ads.txt and app-ads.txt targeting options for new entities (e.g. Line item) inherit the settings applied on the parent entity (e.g. the Insertion Order that the line item belongs to).

The following targeting options are available:

  • Authorized Direct Sellers and Resellers: All authorized sellers, including those that directly own or resell the inventory being monetized, as indicated by a DIRECT or RESELLER declaration in the ads.txt and/or app-ads.txt file respectively. Note that this is the default option for new Display & Video 360 campaigns.

  • Authorized Direct Sellers only: Only authorized sellers that directly own the inventory being monetized, as indicated by a DIRECT declaration in the ads.txt and/or app-ads.txt file.

  • Authorized and Non-Participating Publishers: All authorized sellers, including publishers that have not posted an ads.txt and/or app-ads.txt file. Display & Video 360 automatically disallows unauthorized sellers.
Display & Video 360 excludes non-participating inventory on new campaigns by default, but buyers may choose to purchase non-participating inventory based on their inventory quality policy.
 
Authorized seller targeting options currently only apply to web-based and mobile app inventory and may also not be visible on some line item types which exclusively target ineligible inventory. Learn more about ineligible inventory

Authorized seller bidding in Display & Video 360

Web and Mobile App inventory

Has ads.txt/app-ads.txt? Seller status Targeting status Does Display & Video 360 bid?*
Yes Unauthorized N/A No
Yes Authorized Direct Authorized and Non-Participating Publishers Yes
Yes Authorized Direct (Default**) Authorized Direct Sellers and Resellers Yes
Yes Authorized Direct Authorized Direct Sellers only Yes
Yes  Authorized Reseller Authorized and Non-Participating Publishers Yes
Yes Authorized Reseller (Default**) Authorized Direct Sellers and Resellers Yes
Yes Authorized Reseller Authorized Direct Sellers only No
No Non-Participating Authorized and Non-Participating Publishers Yes
No Non-Participating (Default**) Authorized Direct Sellers and Resellers No
No Non-Participating Authorized Direct Sellers only No

* Other bid rejection reasons may apply
** The default value set at the partner level. This can be overwritten at the campaign, insertion order, or line item level

Note: Ads.txt and app-ads.txt targeting options do not apply to TV app-based inventory at this time. Only web and mobile app inventory are considered.

Authorized seller reporting in Display & Video 360

In Display & Video 360 you can use the "Authorized Seller state" dimension to report on the ads.txt and app-ads.txt participation or authorization status of inventory bought. The "Authorized Seller state" dimension categorizes inventory into Authorized Direct Sellers, Authorized Resellers, Non-Participating Publishers, and Ineligible. Learn more about publisher participation and seller authorization.

The reach impact of ads.txt and app-ads.txt targeting options can also be estimated using the Inventory Availability report. Learn more about how Display & Video 360 calculates potential reach.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do to minimize the impact of Authorized Seller targeting on my campaign delivery?

You can expand the reach of authorized web/app inventory (recommended), or consider adjusting Authorized Seller Targeting options based on your inventory quality policies.

Expand reach of authorized app inventory (recommended)

  • Expand inventory source targeting to include more authorized app inventory and use reach forecasts or Inventory Availability reports to estimate incremental reach. Target Open Auction for broader app-ads.txt coverage, explore the Marketplace or work with publishers to recommend premium authorized app inventory.
  • If targeting channels, use App/URL suggestions to find brand-safe app inventory to expand channel reach.
  • If inventory source targeting cannot be expanded (e.g. for private deals), encourage publishers to adopt app-ads.txt on the desired inventory.

Adjust Inventory Quality targeting based on your inventory buying policies

  • Within Brand Controls at the Advertiser level (Resources > Brand Controls > Authorized sellers), review the breakdown across Authorized Seller states. To make bulk updates to Inventory Quality targeting, click View Breakdownand thenActionsand thenSDF Download for export of line items potentially impacted by app-ads.txt coverage.
  • Depending on your inventory buying policies, if your campaign is inventory constrained, consider adjusting Inventory Quality targeting to ‘Authorized and non-participating publishers’. Due to higher inventory quality risk, consider doing this as a temporary measure, and only for private deals. We recommend encouraging publishers to adopt app-ads.txt.
  • If you have separate inventory quality policies for app vs web inventory, consider temporarily separating line items for buying web and app inventory.

How does app-ads.txt enforcement affect campaign delivery?

The enforcement of app-ads.txt by Display & Video 360 does not currently impact TV apps without an app-ads.txt file. Display & Video 360 will only stop buying unauthorized TV app inventory (TV apps that have an associated app-ads.txt file in which the seller's publisher ID is not declared).

How can I improve ads.txt adoption on desired web or app inventory?

Ads.txt/app-ads.txt files need to be posted by the publisher. Publishers can reference the following setup FAQs and work with their webmaster to ensure their files can be crawled by Google.

How does the Authorized Seller targeting option affect app-based inventory?

The Authorized Seller targeting options only affect web-based and mobile app inventory. TV app-based inventory is not affected by the targeting options at this time.

How can I assess the impact of Authorized Seller targeting on campaign reach?

You can estimate the reach impact of applying ads.txt/app-ads.txt targeting options by using Reach forecasts or the Inventory Availability report.

How can I troubleshoot the impact of Authorized Seller targeting on campaign spend?

TV app-based inventory is not affected by the Authorized Seller targeting options at this time. 

For web-based and mobile app inventory, you can check the Targeting section of the Troubleshooter to determine if a significant percentage of bid requests are filtered due to "Authorized Seller state". Learn more about the Troubleshooter.

Why does Display & Video 360 show a domain/app as non-participating, although it has an ads.txt or app-ads.txt file?

For Display & Video 360 to categorize a domain/app as participating, the ads.txt/app-ads.txt file must be posted according to the IAB specification and must be discoverable by the Google crawler.

For apps specifically, publishers must:

  • Ensure the app is registered with the Google Play or App Store

  • Include a valid developer website in the Google Play or App Store listing

  • Ensure that the app-ads.txt file is reachable from the root domain or a valid subdomain, as allowed by the app-ads.txt specification

Why is the Authorized Seller targeting option not visible on some line items?

The Authorized Seller targeting option may not be visible on some Line Item types which exclusively target ineligible inventory by default, or inventory for which ads.txt or app-ads.txt enforcement does not apply. Learn more about ineligible inventory
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