The initiative is called Trust.txt, and it’s a part of JournalList, Inc., the Denver-based nonprofit membership organization that maintains the trust.txt reference document. The objective is to help validate media companies based on their membership in trusted organizations and associations by providing a collective signal of trust.
“We support organizations like JournalList that create new ways for legitimate publishers to stand out from other websites and are glad to incorporate AAM audits into this framework," AAM CEO Tom Drouillard said in a press release.
Trust.txt is especially needed at a time when there are growing concerns about misinformation and fraudulent news sites, AAM added. Advertisers look for brand protection, and need to know where their ads are being shown. Trust.txt offers more transparency for marketers by creating machine-readable files that advertisers, tech platforms and search engines can easily access to make connections between publishers and the industry organizations and associations to which they belong.
As part of the program, AAM hosts a Trust.txt file on auditedmedia.com that lists nearly 1,200 of its audited print and digital publishers from the U.S. and Canada, and encourages publishers to host their own Trust.txt files, which can be cross-referenced with AAM’s file to make it easy for advertisers to find trusted publishers.
JournalList Executive Director Mark Stencel called it a simple solution to a complicated problem—an open system that uses publishers' existing relationships and credentials to elevate and monetize their work on digital media. “Working together with the Alliance for Audited Media and its community of publishers, we will make it easier to automatically distinguish crucial sources of important information from intentionally bogus outlets that peddle dangerous misinformation,” he said.
AAM’s participation in Trust.txt demonstrates another step the organization has taken to elevate publishers committed to transparency. In addition to offering several tools to deliver trusted publisher data to the marketplace, AAM’s Digital Publisher Audit provides a comprehensive analysis of publisher website traffic and adherence to best business practices, providing advertisers with third-party assurance that the publisher has a process in place to deliver human audiences.
AAM has also collaborated with industry-leading organizations such as IAB Tech Lab, which includes audited digital publishers in its IAB Tech Lab Compliance Registry.