June 25, 2024

Mastering Ads.txt File Optimisation with Content Ignites Insight Tool

Published By
Ben Spencer
Reading Time
6 mins

Hopefully by now, the majority of digital publishers know what an ads.txt file is. If you run any programmatic advertising, you should have this file on the root folder of your domain. If you haven’t come across the ads.txt file before - it is a text file included on your website to list authorised companies selling your ad inventory, aimed at increasing transparency and reducing fraud.

We find there is a general lack of awareness about the importance of ads.txt and that if it is incomplete or incorrect, it can have huge ramifications for the monetisation of your website.

Due to the ads.txt files immense importance to monetisation, our talented development team have created an Ads.txt Insights tool to help you regularly update and maintain the ads.txt file and to ensure all authorised sellers are always listed.

For each publisher you have listed in the Fusion platform, you can access the Ads.txt page by clicking the icon highlighted by the green circle (like below).

Accessing the Ads.txt Insights tool

A 5-step overview of understanding our Ads.txt Insights tool

Step 1: First we start off by highlight the health of your ads.txt file and let you know of any immediate actions that you need to take. As you can see in the screenshot, these may be validation issues or missing required lines for Content Ignite (or for your own connections) to be able to monetise as effectively as possible.

Ads.txt issues highlighted

Step 2: Learn more links (?) are provided throughout each section to read up on further information and explanations about the insights and the importance of keeping your ads.txt up-to-date to maximise your revenue potential.

Learn more about each Ads.txt Insight section at docs.contentignite.com

Step 3: We provide a traffic light highlighted breakdown of all the found line types, offering a clearer analysis of your file's makeup and identifying potential areas for reduction.

Traffic-light highlighted statuses and issues for Ads.txt

Step 4: We present a line-by-line analysis of your found ads.txt file, providing valuable feedback on validation errors, missing required lines and highlighting untracked lines.

Line-by-line ads.txt analysis

Step 5: We then provide a ‘Signpost’ on how to add third-party "Untracked" lines that fall outside of required lines derived by Fusion, into "Tracked" lines for improved transparency on true earning inventory.

Add your 3rd-party lines to Fusion for them to be Tracked

Understanding the ‘Relationship Type’ in the ads.txt file

Relationship Type for Ads.txt explained

The ‘Relationship type’ section of Fusions Ads.txt Insights describes the two types of relationships in ads.txt: DIRECT (direct relationship with ad tech vendors) and RESELLER (authorised networks sell inventory on behalf of publishers).

An industry-wide problem for all publishers is an over-inclusion of RESELLER relationships. It’s important to keep RESELLER relationships to a minimum and to question the existence of these RESELLER lines with your SSP partner - especially if you already have a DIRECT relationship with that RESELLER.

Primary Action for Publishers: You should aim to use this section of the tool to strive for more DIRECT relationships to optimise the supply chain and regularly audit and correctly classify relationship types.

Our Ads.txt Insights tool will assist you in creating a regular audit process.

Read more: https://docs.contentignite.com/publishers/hub-adstxt/#relationship-types

Understanding the ‘Exchanges’ in the ads.txt file

Exchanges for Ads.txt explained

The ‘Exchanges’ section of Fusions Ads.txt Insights lists the authorised exchanges and their correlation to unique exchanges in the ads.txt file. We constantly find with publishers that they have a bloated ads.txt file with either redundant (or extinct) exchanges and also, that there is a lack of transparency in these exchange relationships.

Primary Action for Publishers: Again, our total allows you to regularly audit, clean up and remove unnecessary exchanges and we ensure you have a clear documentation of exchange relationships within your ads.txt.

This section is an overview and we ask you to ‘Explore your exchanges further’ in the Exchange Insights section.

Read more: https://docs.contentignite.com/publishers/hub-adstxt/#exchanges

Focussing on ‘File Lines’ and how you can improve your ads.txt file

File Lines for Ads.txt explained

The ‘File Lines’ section of Fusions Ads.txt Insights reviews different types of lines in the ads.txt file: required, untracked, duplicates, comment lines, and empty lines.

Required lines are from Content Ignite and our revenue partners, Untracked lines are any 3rd-party ads.txt lines you haven’t included into our platform, Duplicates are any lines in the current ads.txt file that are duplicated, Comment lines are any commented lines in the ads.txt file and empty lines are hopefully self-explanatory - any blank lines in the ads.txt.

Primary Action for Publishers: This section allows you to really deep-dive into your ads.txt set up and by adding your 3rd-party ads.txt lines from other partners than Content Ignite, you will start to easily see where you have unneeded, unrequired and duplicate ads.txt lines to allow you remove those lines and create a more efficient file structure and setup.

Read more: https://docs.contentignite.com/publishers/hub-adstxt/#file-lines

Focussing on ‘Your ads.txt file’ and understanding the improvements you can make

Your ads.txt lines explained

The ‘Your ads.txt file’ section of Fusions Ads.txt Insights provides actionable details on validating and maintaining the ads.txt file, highlighting required, missing, and untracked lines.

How to improve your Ads.txt file

Step 1: Add 3rd-Parties: Add 3rd-Party ads.txt lines you want to track from your main ad revenue partners into Fusion. These lines will then start being tracked and it will give you a true look at Duplicate and Unrequired lines in your ads.txt file. In addition, this will catch any accidental removals of required 3rd party lines

Break: Allow a day for our platform to re-crawl your ads.txt.

Step 2: Remove Duplicates: At this point, you will see in the ‘File Lines’ section the potential ‘POSSIBLE REDUCTION’ of your ads.txt file! Our suggestion here is for our publishers to side-by-side our Fusion Ads.txt Insights page and your ads.txt file (like above) in a text editor and work from the bottom up to remove all duplicates and then update your ads.txt file.

Break: Allow a day for our platform to re-crawl your ads.txt.

Step 3: Remove Untracked: Now all duplicates are removed - it is now time to remove all untracked lines! Our suggestion here again for our publishers is to side-by-side our Fusion Ads.txt Insights page and your ads.txt file (like above) in a text editor and work from the bottom up to remove all untracked lines and then update your file.

Step 4: Monitor Revenue Performance: It’s important to make sure after making these changes that you haven’t accidentally removed a line or two that you actually do require in your ads.txt but you should find, if done correctly, your revenue has not been affected.

Step 5: Speak to your SSPs: Why? If you have multiple RESELLER lines for the same exchange from a SSP - you should be asking why they are needed. We can help you monitor the removal of additional RESELLER lines from the same exchange and how this affects revenue - if even at all. This is where our Exchange Insights section allows you to really drilldown into your ads.txt issues and reduce bidflation.

Focussing on ‘Exchange Insights’

The ‘Exchange Insights’ section of Fusions Ads.txt Insights analyses exchange lines, their sources, and relationships, and any potential bloating. The worst offenders will appear at the top of that list and we urge you to read more about Bidflation through this fantastic article.

The ‘Exchange Insights’ shows the multiple paths SSPs/Exchanges will take to access the same ad inventory which leads to increased complexity and operational costs on the buy-side and therefore potentially reduce the bids publishers receive and therefore, revenue.

Primary Action for Publishers: Through SSPs where you see the same exchange constantly appearing, try removing them for the more under-performing SSPs and analyse revenue. At the same time, use Content Ignites Experiment technology to see if you can remove certain SSPs from bidding on specific inventory and analyse revenue decreases or increases. Also focus on more DIRECT relationships and trial removing RESELLER relationships with the same SSPs.

If you’ve come this far, thanks for reading and I’d urge you to visit our docs pages for MUCH more information on the Ads.txt Insights tool and a deeper-dive into the sections and features

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