Ads.txt Adoption Soars, Coverage Still Spotty

The good news is that adoption of ads.txt in programmatic audience exchanges is accelerating, soaring 269% in the first quarter alone, according to a report released today by Pixalate. The bad news is that coverage is still spotty among publishers and exchanges, as well as the embrace of agencies and brands.

That second point comes from a survey of 220 ad executives released this morning by big digital publishing platform Oath, which found that only a third of ad executives have policies of only advertising on publishers utilizing ads.txt.

The Oath study also found that awareness and education of the role of ads.txt in filtering out fraudulent activity via programmatic media buys is still somewhat spotty.

“Twenty percent of advertisers surveyed have never even heard of ads.txt,” Tim Mahlman, president of advertising and publisher strategy at Oath, says of the study’s findings.

“Surprising, but it's still a new development in our industry,” he adds, noting that “the IAB only launched it one year ago. That education gap will shrink quickly this year as more advertisers demand tools for inventory transparency.”

The top-line insight from the Oath study, which is based on an online survey of advertisers and agency executives conducted in February, is that nearly half (48%) say they are suspicious of publishers that have not implemented ads.txt.

Ironically, Pixalate’s Q1 report ranks Oath’s own programmatic exchange -- One by AOL -- only eighth among the top 10 programmatic audiences exchanges in terms of the volume of ads.txt files they are processing among the top 10,000 sites.

Put another way, Pixalate found that No. 1 Google’s ads.txt coverage currently is 63.2% of ads.txt files served vs. only 47.8% for One by AOL. Sovrn ranked lowest among the top 10 exchanges, with a coverage of 46.1%.

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