Programmatic buying has come to the market with a promise of increasing the efficiency of digital media trading. But some things apparently did not go as planned as programmatic media buyers have to deal with fraud and lack of transparency into the purchasing process. Also, it seems the whole ecosystem is getting even more complicated over time.
In order to fight fraud, about two years ago the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced a new standard that would work against unapproved reselling of publishers’ inventory. We’re all familiar with Authorized Digital Sellers (ads.txt) now – a simple text file that publishers fill with information about ad tech vendors allowed to resell their inventory. It definitely helped clear programmatic ecosystem of some malevolent factors, eg. of domain spoofing. Still, it did not give buyers bid request level of granularity.
And now, after the announcement of Sellers.json and OpenRTB Supply Chain object, another layer of protection will be available. These tools were rolled out by IAB, with the clear goal of making the programmatic ecosystem less murky and more transparent and to help buyers optimize their bidding strategies.
Sellers.json & OpenRTB Supply Chain Object
Sellers.json is also a file, but this time designed for programmatic inventory resellers – SSPs, ad networks, and so on. These entities need to have it hosted under their domains and populated with a list of partners they work with – publishers and ad networks for instance. Each partner listed in the file is an object that includes:
- internal identification number
- name of the company
- corporate domain
- type of established relationship
Thanks to such file being available, it will now be easier for buyers to verify the entities they buy off and make sure they can cut off the shady ones.
Along with sellers.json comes OpenRTB Supply Chain Object. It is an OpenRTB protocol extension that enables buyers to track the source of inventory in bid requests they receive. Using information included in sellers.json files in an automated way, OpenRTB Supply Chain Object records what happened to an impression after an ad request. It reveals and authorizes all parties that took place in an auction bundling them in a set of nodes, so bidders can scan bid requests against either wanted or unwanted inventory. Based on that they are able to make informed decisions on where to buy traffic and what entities to avoid.
Okay, so what should I do to be compliant with the new standards?
What is good for publishers, they are not required to take any action, so these standards will not be another distraction to them. Pretty much all the work has to be done on reseller’s end. However, it is true for direct publishers only. All entities who are intermediaries and are listed in SSPs sellers.json files as “intermediary” or “both” will have to create their sellers.json files. So it is worth emphasizing that this initiative affects all resellers, not only SSPs. It is likely to be painful for ad networks, which are still there on some markets and are still a way for small publishers to access programmatic demand, but the expected outcome is positive. Waytogrow supports all efforts which aim at improving trust and transparency in the programmatic ecosystem.
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