Fraud in Ad Tech

Digital advertising is a huge marketplace where spending volumes can easily reach $333.25 billion. Big money has always been attracting fraudsters. Every year, their practices become more sophisticated, and the losses of advertisers grow more serious. For this reason, Juniper Research has prepared a worst-case scenario that the unprotected ad market could possibly hit: $42 billion losses by the end of 2019.

Still, other sources seemingly deliver far better news. A report from (ANA) National Advertisers Association estimated the global damage from fraud to be modest in comparison to last year: $5.8 billion tops. For the first time in several years, ad fraud started climbing downward. In two years, the share of fake display ads decreased from 9% to 8%, in video ads - from 22% to 14%.

The first major steps in the fight against ad fraud represented IAB’s ads.txt and ads.cert designed for the authorization of publishers and their inventory. In May 2019, it was released app-ads.txt, which helped validate OTT and mobile inventory sellers. Finally, in July 2019, the world started to embrace Sellers.json and OpenRTB SupplyChain Object - technologies designed to provide buy-side with comprehensive information considering all vendors involved in the reselling.

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What Are Sellers.json and OpenRTB SupplyChain?

These two technologies can complement each other and provide buyers with a full picture considering who is the seller, who is a reseller, and what parties take part in the auction.


How it works

Sellers.json. It resembles an ads.txt file function but with the application of json rather than a txt. It is placed in the root of the domain. ID account numbers of all sellers in the system can be accessed by buyers publicly. 

Sellers.json helps advertisers verify the relation between the publisher and SSP by comparing the data about the seller in ads.txt and data about SSP in the Sellers.json file. 

OpenRTB SupplyChain Object gives an attribution of an impression after an ad call. It shows all sellers and resellers that were active during all bid requests. 

For every bid, it creates a so-called ‘node’ that indicates all participants (sellers and resellers). Nodes also enable matching participants to IDs in ads.txt to find out if they are ‘legitimate partners’ of the original seller. 

progress to transparency with sellersjson and openrtb supplychain object

Why It Is Important

Fraud protection. Data available at glance can prevent all kinds of fraud. Advertisers can verify the publishers simultaneously via ads.txt (direct publishers), sellers.json (resellers), along with OpenRTB Supply Chain Object (bid request inspection on SSP) and report if the seller is missing in the files.

Transparency. With OpenRTB SupplyChain Object media-buyers may know every supply provider in the chain. Furthermore, to stay aware of who is the initial seller and inspect the list of resellers. This creates end-to-end transparency: every detail can be audited, so there will be no room for false partnership claims.

Working with good quality SSPs. These technologies give buyers the freedom to work exclusively with SSPs that support these authentication tools. It will encourage rapid market adoption and overall raise in media-buying standards.

The Next Step for Publishers

Your SSP or Ad Exchange will be hosting the Sellers.json and OpenRTB Supply Chain Object; that’s why they will be in charge of these standards implementation. It’s worth to point out that specification is still being developed by the IAB tech lab and presumably will be finalized during the next few weeks. We’ll keep you updated when further actions need to be taken.

The Next Step for Advertisers

Stick to the ads.txt and app-ads.txt IAB standards in order to keep eliminating fraud and unauthorized inventory reselling. When IAB specifications are complete, you will also be able to check IDs using sellers.json files. Our team will notify demand partners about their further actions once the release is delivered and deployed at SSP.

Inventory Quality at SmartyAds

SmartyAds is always the first to adopt the latest technological advancements dedicated to inventory quality protection, ensuring a transparent and secure media-trading ecosystem. After we enforced ads.txt and app-ads.txt adoption, advertisers can be sure about the origins of the inventory they purchase and know who is the publisher they trade with. We plan to support upcoming Sellers.json and OpenRTB SupplyChain IAB initiatives and encourage media partners to be ready to adopt new standards that will drive the new layer of confidence and security to programmatic.

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