Ads.txt: Cui bono?

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 8.02.52 AMAds.txt is not the answer to solving the widespread problem of fraud in the digital marketing ecosystem, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

I was glad to hear that MediaMath announced that it will begin rapidly rolling out the use ads.txt on their platform. This will help spur adoption.

But a good question is why only 12.8% of the top 10,000 websites have adopted ads.txt. Seems to me that removing fraud and waste is generally a good thing, right? But ask yourself the question in the headline. And the answer to that is “advertisers,” which is the reason for the slow rollout.

55% of every dollar spent on digital advertising is hacked off by adtech and martech hucksters. So if a billion dollars in fraud could be removed by reducing domain spoofing, roughly $550MM stops flowing to the various vendors of marketing cruft you currently waste your money on. That’s enough money to put a few adtech companies out of business.

Ads.txt is bad for business if you’re an adtech or martech vendor. It reduces the amount of wasted working media spent on nonsensical websites, which means there’s less dollars flowing by that you can dip into.

Wanna bet how many vendors are slithering into publishers and agencies with Powerpoint showing how ads.txt ruins publisher revenues and prevents agencies from reaching the client objectives?

Further, when the water level of fraud is lowered a little–say by a billion dollars–the giant rocks of BS that lie under the water in digital marketing become exposed. One easy example: how do you think your MTA results are going to change with fewer bot view-throughs and clicks on fake websites polluting the data feeding the algorithm? The circle becomes virtuous. More questions begin to be asked about the tools advertisers are spending money on, and more useless technology gets switched off.

More advertisers will see the P&G effect, where they turn off millions in digital spend and see no ill effects.

Takeaway: Ads.txt is a good thing, but not the entire answer. When a good thing is slow-rolled, ask “cui bono?” If you’re an advertiser, vote with your wallet. And win.

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