Publishers' Ads.txt Errors are Hurting Your Bottom Line

Publishers' ads.txt errors are growing rapidly, reducing demand-side tech revenue. Ads.txt Scout is here to fix that. 

Over 80% of all programmatic buying is now ads.txt enabled (90% for Google). The stakes are very high – widespread adoption is driving exchanges and other demand sources to invest in the resources and tools necessary to ensure their supply partners keep ads.txt files accurate and up-to-date. 


Ads.txt tools need to solve for more than simple “fat finger” errors and omissions. In many cases, ads.txt will list technologies not actually on-site (e.g., AppNexus is listed as a DIRECT buyer on a site, but their technology is not actually installed). The inverse problem also occurs, though with less frequency: technologies active on-site are not listed in ads.txt, thereby invalidating each bid requiring ads.txt to serve as a white label approval list for validation. 

We believe these errors occur mainly as publishers grow their ads.txt files to accommodate more demand sources, resulting in simple, though costly, mistakes that impact demand side revenue.

How big is the problem? Industry Index has been tracking and cataloging technology installations and usage across the 5 million largest companies in the US and EMEA for the last year. We have identified and track over 525,000 publishers with ads.txt files. 51% of the top 5,000 Publishers (Quantcast Ranking) have five or more ads.txt errors.

Our data suggests that, per 1,000 publisher sites that a given technology works with, between 10-25% of sites will have the tech installed, but not list it accurately (or at all) in the ads.txt file. Conversely, of those same 1,000 publishers, around 500 will have that tech listed as DIRECT in the ads.txt while not actually having it installed.* 

For example, we see in the chart below that OpenX is installed on roughly 3,000 of the top 5,000 sites. Of these installations, there are around 250 instances where they are not listed in ads,txt, and over 1,000 instances in which they appear in Ads.txt files, but don't have tech installed on page. 

AdsTxt v Tech Installs Oct 2018 

Evidence demonstrates that tech companies simply cannot rely on their publisher customers to get ads.txt right – these errors negatively effect revenue. Plus, errors can change on a daily basis; the number of revenue-effecting errors for any particular tech company is likely growing. 


We built Ads.txt Scout™ specifically to help tech companies identify and manage this problem at every instance. We track more than 525,000 publishers with ads.txt files daily, scanning their ads.txt files and overlapping this data with a real-time analysis of actual tech installs on page. This allows us to identify specific errors, continually monitor for evidence of their resolution, and continually monitor for new errors. Plus, we can notify each publication on your behalf with the managed service portion of Ads.txt Scout.

Ads.txt Scout is simple, powerful, and highly cost-effective – a rounding error when compared to the revenue that technology companies are losing due to publishers' mistakes.


*This data does not account for server-to-server header bidding technologies, which are not possible to
accurately track on-page.