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A healthy advertising ecosystem is necessary for publishers to thrive. Pooja Kapoor, head of global strategy, programmatic, and ecosystem health at Google, outlines the company’s efforts to improve protections for publishers.

There are many issues impacting the health of the advertising ecosystem today. Counterfeit, misrepresented, and fake ad inventory are diverting revenue from high-quality publishers. And publishers are looking for tools to help them stop unsuitable ads from appearing alongside their content and damaging their brand. Addressing ad fraud is critical to creating a healthy ecosystem where publishers can thrive. That’s why Google has been investing in multiple initiatives and tools to help alleviate these problems for our partners.

Helping stop the sale of counterfeit ad inventory

When counterfeit inventory is allowed to be sold or an unauthorized reseller puts underpriced inventory into the market, it prevents publishers from receiving the full value of their inventory. That’s why we fully support the IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt standard. Ads.txt gives publishers and distributors a simple, flexible, and secure method to disclose the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory. It increases transparency in the inventory supply chain, making it more difficult to sell counterfeit inventory or resell inventory without a publisher’s approval.

We recently announced that Google Display & Video 360 will only buy a publisher’s inventory from sources identified as authorized sellers in its ads.txt file when a file is available. At our recent Partner Leadership Summit, we announced three updates to our publisher ad platforms to support the IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt standard.

  • AdSense has begun to display ads.txt alerts in the user interface to let publishers know if we identify errors in their ads.txt file.

  • By the end of October, Google Ad Manager will include an ads.txt generator and validator to help publishers create their initial ads.txt file, and correct and modify their existing ads.txt files.

  • And most importantly by the end of this year, Google Ad Manager and AdSense will filter unauthorized inventory, as identified by a publisher’s ads.txt file, from our auction.

The growth we’ve seen in ads.txt adoption has been strong. As of October 12, our ads.txt crawler has found files from over 11,000 URLs. However, only 252 of the Com Score 1000 publishers have published ads.txt files. The broader the adoption of ads.txt, the faster we’ll be able to help prevent the sale and purchase of counterfeit inventory, and foster a fair and safe market for publishers to grow their businesses.

Number of domains with ads.txt files

Number of domains with ads.txt files

Keeping unsuitable ads off of publisher sites

We’ve heard from our publishers that they want more options and control over the types of ads that appear on their sites from our advertising partners. While we have strict policies on our own platforms to protect publishers and our users from harmful, misleading, and inappropriate ads, we are introducing more controls and filters so publishers can make their own decisions about what is and what isn't suitable for their brand.

We have released two new controls in Google Ad Manager that allow publishers to block sensational, tabloid-style ads and ads featuring significant skin exposure from their sites. And we recently made changes to significantly improve the accuracy and quality of our automated creative classification filters. We’ve always had comprehensive controls to help publishers automatically block any type of ad that appears on their site, and these updates will help publishers fine tune the types of ads that appear alongside their content.

Creating a fair and safe marketplace for publishers

Helping publishers create sustainable businesses and continue to grow is core to our mission. That cannot happen without a healthy advertising ecosystem. By helping to stop the sale and purchase of counterfeit inventory, and giving publishers the tools to prevent unsuitable and unsafe ads from appearing next to their content, we hope to make it easier for our partners to succeed.

Discover more key insights and new product innovations announced at the Partner Leadership Summit with a full collection of articles inspired by the main talks on stage.