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A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard

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ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC)
Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 2019

Published in: Science
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A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard

  1. 1. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard A Longitudinal Analysis of 
 the ads.txt Standard October 22, 2019 Muhammad Ahmad Bashir Sajjad Arshad Engin Kirda
 William Robertson Christo Wilson
  2. 2. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 2 What is ads.txt Standard? Introduced by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
 to combat ‘domain spoofing’ fraud 
 in Real Time Bidding (RTB) auctions

  3. 3. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 3 Online Advertising Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies
  4. 4. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 3 Online Advertising Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Users’ Profile Users’ Profile
  5. 5. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 3 Online Advertising Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Users’ Profile Users’ Profile
  6. 6. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Observable via browser Not observable
  7. 7. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Observable via browser Not observable Ad Exchange
  8. 8. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) RTB Auction Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Observable via browser Not observable Ad Exchange Demand Side 
 Platform (DSPs)
  9. 9. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) RTB Auction Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Observable via browser Not observable Advertisers Ad Exchange Demand Side 
 Platform (DSPs)
  10. 10. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) $0.05 $0.10 $0.20 RTB Auction Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Observable via browser Not observable Advertisers Ad Exchange Demand Side 
 Platform (DSPs)
  11. 11. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) $0.05 $0.10 $0.20 RTB Auction Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies Observable via browser Not observable Advertisers Ad Exchange Demand Side 
 Platform (DSPs)
  12. 12. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 4 Shift Towards Real Time Bidding (RTB) $0.05 $0.10 $0.20 RTB Auction Website / Publisher Advertising & Analytics (A&A) Companies RTB currently holds 42% share of 
 US Digital Advertising. Observable via browser Not observable Advertisers Ad Exchange Demand Side 
 Platform (DSPs)
  13. 13. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction UserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) UserX=123 Observable via browser Not observable
  14. 14. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction UserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie UserX=123 Observable via browser Not observable
  15. 15. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction UserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie GET, DoubleClick’s Cookie = 123 UserX=123 Observable via browser Not observable
  16. 16. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction RTB AuctionUserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie GET, DoubleClick’s Cookie = 123 UserX=123 Observable via browser Not observable
  17. 17. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction RTB AuctionUserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie GET, DoubleClick’s Cookie = 123 UserX=123 Bid for User 123 ? Bid for User 123 ? Observable via browser Not observable
  18. 18. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction RTB AuctionUserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie GET, DoubleClick’s Cookie = 123 UserX=123 $0.15 $0.40 Bid for User 123 ? Bid for User 123 ? Observable via browser Not observable
  19. 19. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction RTB AuctionUserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie GET, DoubleClick’s Cookie = 123 UserX=123 $0.15 $0.40 Bid for User 123 ? Bid for User 123 ? GET, RightMedia’s Cookie = ABC Observable via browser Not observable
  20. 20. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 5 An Example of RTB Auction RTB AuctionUserX Publisher Ad Exchange UserX=xo$ UserX=ABC Demand Side 
 Platforms (DSPs) GET, CNN’s Cookie GET, DoubleClick’s Cookie = 123 UserX=123 $0.15 $0.40 Bid for User 123 ? Bid for User 123 ? DSPs don’t receive the request directly from the browser. GET, RightMedia’s Cookie = ABC Observable via browser Not observable
  21. 21. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 6 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Observable via browser Not observable Publishers Ad Exchanges
  22. 22. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 6 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Observable via browser Not observable Publishers Ad Exchanges DSPs (Bidders)
  23. 23. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 6 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Observable via browser Not observable Publishers Ad Exchanges DSPs (Bidders)
  24. 24. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 6 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Observable via browser Not observable Publishers Ad Exchanges DSPs (Bidders)
  25. 25. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 6 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Observable via browser Not observable Publishers Ad Exchanges DSPs (Bidders) DSPs will think the user is on CNN, rather than 
 FNN
  26. 26. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 7 Ad Fraud = Loss in $$$
  27. 27. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 7 Ad Fraud = Loss in $$$
  28. 28. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 8 Programmatic Buying & Selling via ads.txt Standard Authorized Digital Sellers (ads.txt) • Introduced by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in May 2017 • Enables publishers to list authorized exchanges • At the root of the top-level domain
  29. 29. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 8 Programmatic Buying & Selling via ads.txt Standard Authorized Digital Sellers (ads.txt) • Introduced by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in May 2017 • Enables publishers to list authorized exchanges • At the root of the top-level domain google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt
  30. 30. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 8 Programmatic Buying & Selling via ads.txt Standard Authorized Digital Sellers (ads.txt) • Introduced by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in May 2017 • Enables publishers to list authorized exchanges • At the root of the top-level domain google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt File Format: <FIELD #1>, <FIELD #2>, <FIELD #3> #1: Exchange domain * #2: Publisher’s account ID #3: Type of account/relationship * Not always an exchange
  31. 31. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 9 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Publishers Observable via browser Not observable Ad Exchanges DSPs (Bidders)
  32. 32. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 9 Potential for Fraud in RTB Auctions Publishers Observable via browser Not observable Ad Exchanges DSPs (Bidders) google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt
  33. 33. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 10 Why Study ads.txt standard?
  34. 34. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 10 Why Study ads.txt standard? Potential to combat domain spoofing fraud
 • Check for any shortcomings.
 • Lessons can be learnt for upcoming standards.

  35. 35. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 10 Why Study ads.txt standard? Potential to combat domain spoofing fraud
 • Check for any shortcomings.
 • Lessons can be learnt for upcoming standards.
 Might be useful for privacy researchers
 • Means of bringing transparency in the advertising ecosystem
 • Publishers are disclosing their relationships with ad exchanges

  36. 36. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 11 Goals / Research Questions 1. Are publishers adopting the ads.txt standard? 2. Are major A&A companies embracing the standard? • Which A&A companies have adopted? • Do these companies appear to be complying with the standard? 3. Can this data be useful for transparency of the ad ecosystem?
  37. 37. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 12 Talk Overview 1. RTB background & motivation for the ads.txt standard 2. Data collection 3. Adoption trends 4. Compliance of the ads.txt standard 5. Means of providing transparency
  38. 38. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology
  39. 39. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology Alexa top-100K
 publishers
  40. 40. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt Alexa top-100K
 publishers Using Python’s requests module
 Fetched /ads.txt URL

  41. 41. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt Alexa top-100K
 publishers Using Python’s requests module
 Fetched /ads.txt URL
 Stored output
 as base64
  42. 42. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt Alexa top-100K
 publishers Using Python’s requests module
 Fetched /ads.txt URL
 Stored output
 as base64 Crawled 15 URLs per
 publisher using Chrome Debugging
  43. 43. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt Alexa top-100K
 publishers Using Python’s requests module
 Fetched /ads.txt URL
 Stored output
 as base64 Crawled 15 URLs per
 publisher using Chrome Debugging Stored 
 Inclusion Chains pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example Inclusions
  44. 44. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 13 Data Collection Methodology google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt Alexa top-100K
 publishers Using Python’s requests module
 Fetched /ads.txt URL
 Stored output
 as base64 • Collected 26 snapshots between January 2018 - April 2019 Crawled 15 URLs per
 publisher using Chrome Debugging Stored 
 Inclusion Chains pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example Inclusions
  45. 45. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange
  46. 46. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  47. 47. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Mistakes in ads.txt files Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  48. 48. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Mistakes in ads.txt files A. Syntax Errors google.com pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT openx.com , pub−7439281311086140 Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  49. 49. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Mistakes in ads.txt files A. Syntax Errors google.com pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT openx.com , pub−7439281311086140 B. Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  50. 50. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Mistakes in ads.txt files A. Syntax Errors google.com pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT openx.com , pub−7439281311086140 B. Semantic Errors rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT Misspelled Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  51. 51. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Mistakes in ads.txt files A. Syntax Errors google.com pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT openx.com , pub−7439281311086140 B. Semantic Errors rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be google.com Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  52. 52. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 14 Authorized Exchanges Over Time Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange Mistakes in ads.txt files A. Syntax Errors google.com pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT openx.com , pub−7439281311086140 B. Semantic Errors rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be google.com Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381
  53. 53. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  54. 54. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time Fetch WHOIS record NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  55. 55. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time Fetch WHOIS record Exists 1035 domains NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  56. 56. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time Fetch WHOIS record Exists 1035 domains NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  57. 57. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time Fetch WHOIS record Exists Not Found 1346 domains 
 Perform DNS lookup 1035 domains NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  58. 58. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time Fetch WHOIS record Exists Not Found 1346 domains 
 Perform DNS lookup 1035 domains No Resolution NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  59. 59. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 15 Fixing Semantic Errors Increase: 860 —> 1400
 Total unique exchanges: 2381 Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time Fetch WHOIS record Exists Not Found 1346 domains 
 Perform DNS lookup 1035 domains No Resolution NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange rubicnprject.com, 11078, DIRECT doubleclick.net, 3159, DIRECT Misspelled Should be 
 google.com
  60. 60. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 16 Talk Overview 1. RTB background & motivation for the ads.txt standard 2. Data collection 3. Adoption trends 4. Compliance of the ads.txt standard 5. Means of providing transparency
  61. 61. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 17 How Have Publishers Adopted? ads.txt adoption by Alexa Top-100K 
 publishers over time
  62. 62. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 17 How Have Publishers Adopted? ads.txt adoption by Alexa Top-100K 
 publishers over time Adoption has been modest Increase: 12% —> 20%
  63. 63. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 17 How Have Publishers Adopted? ads.txt adoption by Alexa Top-100K 
 publishers over time Publishers that run RTB ads Adoption is pretty decent. ~64% Adoption has been modest Increase: 12% —> 20%
  64. 64. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 18 Authorized Exchanges Discovered Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange 1035 valid domains Number of unique publishers per authorized exchange domain
  65. 65. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 18 Authorized Exchanges Discovered Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange 1035 valid domains Number of unique publishers per authorized exchange domain
  66. 66. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 18 Authorized Exchanges Discovered Number of authorized exchange 
 domains over time NumberofExchanges All Exchanges Valid Exchange 1035 valid domains Number of unique publishers per authorized exchange domain Out of 1035 domains, 20% appear only 
 on a single ads.txt file
  67. 67. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 19 Adoption Trends are Encouraging • 64% of the publishers from Alexa top-100K who run RTB ads.
 • Major A&A domains support ads.txt
  68. 68. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 19 Adoption Trends are Encouraging • 64% of the publishers from Alexa top-100K who run RTB ads.
 • Major A&A domains support ads.txt
  69. 69. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 20 Talk Overview 1. RTB background & motivation for the ads.txt standard 2. Data collection 3. Adoption trends 4. Compliance of the ads.txt standard 5. Means of providing transparency
  70. 70. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 21 A Simple Check for Compliance Publisher Observable via browser Not observableAd Exchange DSP (Bidder)
  71. 71. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 21 A Simple Check for Compliance Publisher Observable via browser Not observableAd Exchange DSP (Bidder) google.com, pub−787, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt
  72. 72. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 21 A Simple Check for Compliance Publisher Observable via browser Not observableAd Exchange DSP (Bidder) google.com, pub−787, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt ✔
  73. 73. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 21 A Simple Check for Compliance Publisher Observable via browser Not observableAd Exchange DSP (Bidder) google.com, pub−787, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt ✔ google.com, pub−787, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT https://cnn.com/ads.txt
  74. 74. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 21 A Simple Check for Compliance Publisher Observable via browser Not observableAd Exchange DSP (Bidder) google.com, pub−787, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt ✔ google.com, pub−787, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT https://cnn.com/ads.txt ✗
  75. 75. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 22 Checking Compliance at Scale pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example InclusionsAdvertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList)
  76. 76. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 22 Checking Compliance at Scale pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example InclusionsAdvertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList)
  77. 77. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 22 Checking Compliance at Scale pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example InclusionsAdvertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList)
  78. 78. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 23 Checking Compliance at Scale pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example InclusionsAdvertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList)
  79. 79. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 23 Checking Compliance at Scale pub/ index.html ads/ script.js ads/ frame.html logo.jpg ads/ img_a.jpgadnet/ data.js Example InclusionsAdvertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList) Chain must have at least 3 elements
  80. 80. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 24 Extracting Tuples For Compliance Analysis Advertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList) Chain must have at least 3 elements
  81. 81. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 24 Extracting Tuples For Compliance Analysis Advertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList) Chain must have at least 3 elements Associated 
 Tuples
  82. 82. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 24 Extracting Tuples For Compliance Analysis Advertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList) Chain must have at least 3 elements Associated 
 Tuples
  83. 83. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 24 Extracting Tuples For Compliance Analysis Advertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList) Chain must have at least 3 elements Associated 
 Tuples
  84. 84. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 24 Extracting Tuples For Compliance Analysis Advertisements 
 (Detected Using EasyList) Chain must have at least 3 elements Associated 
 Tuples
  85. 85. 25 Compliance Per Tuple ads.txt ads.txt
  86. 86. 25 Compliance Per Tuple ads.txt ads.txt Percentage of non-compliant 
 Exchange-DSP tuples per publisher
  87. 87. 25 Compliance Per Tuple ads.txt ads.txt Percentage of non-compliant 
 Exchange-DSP tuples per publisher
  88. 88. 25 Compliance Per Tuple ads.txt ads.txt Percentage of non-compliant 
 Exchange-DSP tuples per publisher 75% publishers have 100% compliant inventory
  89. 89. 25 Compliance Per Tuple ads.txt ads.txt Percentage of non-compliant 
 Exchange-DSP tuples per publisher 75% publishers have 100% compliant inventory Compliance over time
  90. 90. 25 Compliance Per Tuple ads.txt ads.txt Percentage of non-compliant 
 Exchange-DSP tuples per publisher 75% publishers have 100% compliant inventory Compliance over time Compliance has increased 
 over the year
  91. 91. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 26 Top Non-Compliant Tuples Exchange / 
 Seller DSP / 
 Buyer % Across
 all pubs gumgum domdex 20.4 gumgum appnexus 20.5 taboola weborama 52.7 taboola rubiconproject 11.6 gumgum pubmatic 27.3 justpremium openx 100 rubiconproject yahoo 2.63 springserve pubmatic 49.3 nativeroll weborama 100 nativeroll seedr 100
  92. 92. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 26 Top Non-Compliant Tuples Exchange / 
 Seller DSP / 
 Buyer % Across
 all pubs gumgum domdex 20.4 gumgum appnexus 20.5 taboola weborama 52.7 taboola rubiconproject 11.6 gumgum pubmatic 27.3 justpremium openx 100 rubiconproject yahoo 2.63 springserve pubmatic 49.3 nativeroll weborama 100 nativeroll seedr 100 Sellers • Some sellers are systematically 
 non-compliant (e.g. NativeRoll, JustPremium).
 • Top exchanges do not appear as non-compliant.
  93. 93. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 26 Top Non-Compliant Tuples Exchange / 
 Seller DSP / 
 Buyer % Across
 all pubs gumgum domdex 20.4 gumgum appnexus 20.5 taboola weborama 52.7 taboola rubiconproject 11.6 gumgum pubmatic 27.3 justpremium openx 100 rubiconproject yahoo 2.63 springserve pubmatic 49.3 nativeroll weborama 100 nativeroll seedr 100 Sellers • Some sellers are systematically 
 non-compliant (e.g. NativeRoll, JustPremium).
 • Top exchanges do not appear as non-compliant.
  94. 94. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 26 Top Non-Compliant Tuples Exchange / 
 Seller DSP / 
 Buyer % Across
 all pubs gumgum domdex 20.4 gumgum appnexus 20.5 taboola weborama 52.7 taboola rubiconproject 11.6 gumgum pubmatic 27.3 justpremium openx 100 rubiconproject yahoo 2.63 springserve pubmatic 49.3 nativeroll weborama 100 nativeroll seedr 100 Sellers • Some sellers are systematically 
 non-compliant (e.g. NativeRoll, JustPremium).
 • Top exchanges do not appear as non-compliant. Buyers • Most are actually top exchanges (sellers).
 • 8/10 top sellers are buying non-compliant 
 inventory.
  95. 95. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 27 Compliance of ads.txt Standard
  96. 96. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 27 Top exchanges and DSPs appear to be honoring the standard Compliance of ads.txt Standard More than 75% of publishers that run RTB have 100% compliance Major ad exchanges purchasing non-compliant inventory
  97. 97. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 28 Talk Overview 1. RTB background & motivation for the ads.txt standard 2. Data collection 3. Adoption trends 4. Compliance of the ads.txt standard 5. Means of providing transparency
  98. 98. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 29 Identification of A&A Domains Efforts to identify Advertising and Analytics related domains. • Filter lists (e.g. EasyList) are manually curated • Machine learning based approaches
  99. 99. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 29 Identification of A&A Domains Efforts to identify Advertising and Analytics related domains. • Filter lists (e.g. EasyList) are manually curated • Machine learning based approaches google.com, pub−7439281311086140, DIRECT rubiconproject.com, 11078, DIRECT c.amazon−adsystem.com, 3159, DIRECT openx.com, 183753,RESELLER RESELLER https://cnn.com/ads.txt indexexchange.com, 197545, DIRECT adtech.com, 232547, DIRECT openx.com, 203799,RESELLER https://washingtonpost.com/ads.txt 1035 valid domains Top Exchanges like Google, openX have adopted
  100. 100. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 30 New Standards Coming As Well Have the potential to make the ecosystem even more transparent • App-ads.txt (For mobile apps) • Sellers.json (To reveal relationships of sellers in the ecosystem)
  101. 101. IMC 2019: A Longitudinal Analysis of the ads.txt Standard 31 Conclusions / Takeaways • A 15-month study to study the ads.txt standard • We observed heathy adoption (64% publishers have adopted) • Major exchanges & DSPs are part of it, and honoring the standard • A step towards making the ecosystem transparent • Data needs to be cleaned Questions? ahmad@ccs.neu.edu Dataset
 https://personalization.ccs.neu.edu/Projects/Adstxt

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