By Mark Torrance, CTO

Last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched a new initiative to increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem — an issue that the IAB has sought to bring the industry together on for some time now — and Rocket Fuel is eagerly joining in to fight the good fight.

With the IAB’s new initiative, called ads.txt, publishers can share which companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory publicly, in an effort to prevent the sale of counterfeit and unauthorized impressions via programmatic transactions. Buyers can use the tool to record and filter impressions that may be pretending to be from a premium publisher, and stopping domain spoofers from profiting by selling intentionally mislabeled inventory or bypassing blacklists.

At Rocket Fuel, providing our customers with transparency into our media purchasing decisions is a top priority. Advertisers and agencies have a right to know that their marketing dollars are working for them. They should be able to see where a campaign delivered, and what it costs, with a detailed site list and viewability insights. Our hope in joining the IAB’s initiative is that we’ll be able to further ensure that our customers’ dollars will not go to waste on counterfeit ad inventory when we’re able to see who is authorized to sell specific publishers’ inventory.

At Rocket Fuel, we have already deployed a crawler that scans for ads.txt files on the top 10,000 websites where we buy ad inventory. Currently, the IAB’s ads.txt proposal is in a 30-day comment period, but once that ends, publishers will begin listing the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory publicly through an ads.txt file. From there, Rocket Fuel will be able to immediately identify which publishers are participating.

To further bring this initiative to light, we plan to share the data our crawler collects with the entire industry by charting the rate of adoption of ads.txt across publishers. We will monitor continuously for new publishers joining the initiative and will publish this data in hopes that those who don’t have crawlers set up will be able to utilize this information to make better buying decisions when it comes to their inventory.

We’ve seen increasing concerns about ad fraud across the industry in recent months. In 2017, ad fraud is expected to take $6.5 billion out of ad budgets, according to recent findings from the ANA and White Ops. This number is significant enough to show that our industry still has a long way to go in combating this issue. In order to do so, it is imperative that relationships between industry parties be collaborative and supportive, not adversarial; we should all be working together on behalf of the entire digital media ecosystem and, ultimately, consumers. Through our own business practices as well as our network of partnerships, Rocket Fuel both encourages and embodies the honesty, transparency and accountability necessary to maintain our industry’s value as we continue to scale.

The ads.txt tool is a great step in the right direction, but inevitably, more tools will be needed to overcome ad fraud. In the meantime, the team at Rocket Fuel is excited to begin implementing the ads.txt initiative and working with the rest of the industry to bring more transparency to ad buying. We hope you’ll join the call and help us make digital media better for consumers everywhere.