Blogging has become one of the profession among youngster thanks to pay per click programs like Google AdSense. There are many affiliate and advertising programs available online. However, Google AdSense is the top and reliable program especially for beginners. You should understand the basics when you start a blog for Google AdSense. Ads.txt is one such a basic which we will explain in this article.
Unknown Frauds in Advertising
Advertising simply works when a buyer (advertiser) buys inventory from a seller (publisher). However, there are intermediate exchanges or networks that help in communicating between the buyer and the seller. As a seller of the inventory, you may work hard to get more revenue from your website. However, there are bad exchanges who may misuse your domain and sell your ad inventory without your knowledge.
For example, an ad network can show the advertiser that they will sell ads on CNN during real-time bidding. However, they are really not authorized to sell ads on CNN. In this case, they collect more money from the advertiser and display the ads on different domain for lower rate. This is an easy way to cheat the advertiser with false domain information in the automated bidding process. Unlike you imagine, this is billion dollars fraud and advertiser has no option to verify whether the ad network has appropriate authorization to sell ads on the domains they bid.
What is Ads.txt?
In order to prevent frauds in the automated digital advertisement world, the website owner can tell the advertisers about the details of the authorized networks that can sell ad inventory from their domain. Website owners can upload a file with the information of Authorized Digital Sellers on their domain. This Authorized Digital Sellers or Ads.txt file helps anyone to view the details on the browser to get the details of the authorized ad networks that can sell inventory on any website or app. This is similar to robots.txt standard widely used to block the access to content from web crawlers.
For example, if you want to find who are the authorized networks for CNN, just open https://cnn.com/ads.txt on your browser. It will show a list of ad networks who are authorized to sell advertisement inventory on CNN and subdomains of CNN.
Who Found this Ads.txt?
Interactive Advertising Bureau is a non-profit organization that helps to maintain the digital standard like ads.txt file. The intention is to prevent frauds in programmatic digital advertising. You can view the specifications of the ads.txt file on IAB Tech Lab website.
Google AdSense and Ads.txt
It is not mandatory for AdSense publishers to use ads.txt file. However, Google will inform you through your AdSense account when they detect an issue. You will see a message indicating that your earnings are at risk due to missing ads.txt file.
When you have multiple websites, go to “Sites” section to find the affected websites. You can see the status of ads.txt as Not Found, Authorized, Unauthorized or Not Applicable. The correct status should show as “Authorized” for Google to server ads on your site without problem. Otherwise, you should fix the issue to avoid revenue impact.
AdSense Publisher ID
In order to fix the warning message, first you need to know your publisher account id.
- When you are in your AdSense account, navigate to “Settings > Account information” section.
- Find your publisher id on the right pane as shown below.
How to Fix the Warning?
It is very simple, what you need to do is to upload a text file on your server.
Preparing Ads.txt File
- Open your text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.
- Type or paste the following information. Ensure to remove the publisher’s id with your AdSense publisher account id you noted in the previous step.
- Save the file with the name as ads.txt on your local computer.
google.com, pub-000000000001234, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
Basically it has four fields with comma separated values. The explanation of the fields are as below:
|<Field 1>||Domain name of the ad network||google.com|
|<Field 2>||Publishers account ID||pub-000000000001234|
|<Field 3>||Type of relationship (DIRECT or RESELLER)||DIRECT|
|<Field 4>||Certification ID of ad network from Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)||f08c47fec0942fa0|
You can add comments in each line using # as you can see in the CNN ads.txt file. If you have any other ad network other than Google AdSense then add each network in a separate like with similar details. Google will also show you the file content in your AdSense account if the site misses ads.txt file.
Download Ads.txt File From AdSense Account
Now that Google made everything simple for AdSense publishers. When you see the warning message in your AdSense account, click on “Fix now” link link. You will see the instructions on which site is missing ads.txt file along with a download link. Click that “Download” link showing at the bottom of the instructions to download the ads.txt file to your computer. This makes publisher’s life easier and helps to avoid mistakes while copying and creating the file manually.
Uploading File on Your Server
Next step is to upload the file on the root of your domain.
- Launch your FTP client and navigate to the root of your server.
- Upload the ads.txt file on the root.
- Ensure that you can access the file on the browser using the URL https://www.yoursite.com/ads.txt.
Ads.Txt for Subdomains
Follow the below instructions, if you have separate websites on subdomains.
- Add references of the subdomains in ads.txt file on the main domain like subdomain=sub.yoursite.com.
- Upload authorized digital sellers information in ads.txt file on your subdomain.
You can only reference from main domain to subdomain and not from one subdomain to another subdomain.
Note: You can also redirect ads.txt from your domain to another domain. This is allowed as per the guidelines from IAB. You may need to this when using marketplace like BuySellAds for displaying ads.
Check Your AdSense Account
You have no option in AdSense account to inform Google about ads.txt file. After uploading the file, wait for a day for the crawler to find your ads.txt file. If everything goes fine, the warning message in your AdSense account will automatically disappear.
As mentioned above, it is important to add ads.txt file on your domain to prevent frauds. You should do this especially when you have large traffic to your website. However, remember to enter the details in ads.txt very carefully. Making a small mistake in the characters of domain, publishers id or certification id will leads to stopping ad serving on your site. Ensure to monitor your AdSense account that the earnings are stable after uploading the file.